What is a solar inverter?

Installation of solar panels with inverterSolar inverters change the electricity generated by solar panels from direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC) so it can be used by standard appliances around the home. They are a crucial part of solar panel systems and there are a variety of types to choose from.

Which type of solar inverter do I need?

There are 2 main kinds of solar inverter and each has its own benefits:

String inverters

Also called central inverters, string inverters are commonly found in grid-tied systems and work with multiple solar panels wired together. These devices convert power for all of the modules at once, meaning if one panel in the system produces a reduced output it can be difficult to determine which panel is malfunctioning and influencing the entire system. There are however two big benefits to opting for string inverters:

  • The technology has been used for many years meaning it is a tried, tested and commonly used option.
  • String inverters cost a lot less to install than micro inverters.

Micro inverters

This kind of inverter works with panels on an individual level, with one inverter being installed on or behind each module. Although they are more expensive, micro inverters come with many benefits:

  • They don’t see performance reduction from shading like string inverters do, meaning they can sometimes generate more yield.
  • They are easier and safer for engineers to install thanks to the lower DC input reducing the risk of injury from electrocution.
  • They are seen as the most reliable inverter type and tend to have longer warranties.

How efficient is a solar inverter?

Most solar inverters are about 92% – 98% efficient, meaning you only lose between 2% – 8% power when converting DC to AC. This amount will vary between the different makes and models available.

How long do solar inverters last?

The lifetime of a solar inverter will vary between make and model but as a general rule of thumb you should expect it to last for at least 10-15 years. Most warranties will cover 5-10 years for a string inverter whilst the majority of warranties for micro inverters will be longer. Many companies will also offer extensions so this is certainly something to look into when you are having a solar system installed. If an inverter does break it will need to be replaced and this should be done by a qualified tradesperson. You can get free quotes from MCS certified solar installers by using our simple online quote request form.

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