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Comparing String Inverters, Power Optimizers, and Microinverters

March 1, 2024 | Reading Time: 6 minutes

There are three major types of solar inverters; string inverters, power optimizers, and microinverters. These products all work to convert DC electricity to AC electricity but they each have unique benefits and limitations.

String Inverters: The Traditional Choice

String inverters are the oldest inverter technology. In a string inverter system, the solar panels are connected in a “string” series and lead to a single inverter. While this setup is inexpensive and easy to install, the major drawback is the unicellular setup which can cause an overall decrease in performance if just one panel is compromised.

Partial shading, damage, or malfunction of one panel will alter the performance of all panels. This can lead to a significant decrease in energy production and impact electric bills. The performance risk has made many installers utilize one of the newer technology options in addition to or instead of string inverters.

Power Optimizers: Enhanced Efficiency

Power optimizers are often used in string inverter systems to maximize performance levels. They’re equipped on solar each panel and connected in a string format but they’re designed to optimize the panel’s performance before being sending the energy to the central inverter. This mitigates the chance of the “Christmas lights” effect taking place where one underproducing panel affects all of them. Instead, each panel will produce at its individualized maximum output.

Microinverters: Maximizing Potential

Microinverters operate in a separate system from string inverter and optimizers. In this system set up, one microinverter is placed under each panel and independently converts the panels’ energy before sending it directly into the home. There is no need for a central inverter with this technology. Microinverters are a great choice for systems that are partially shaded so that each panel is sending as much energy as it can physically produce at all times.

Making the Right Choice

The decision between string inverters, power optimizers, and microinverters depends on several factors including budget, roof orientation, shading, and performance goals. Regardless of the choice, investing in solar energy can reduce high electric bills and will contribute to a more sustainable future.

Isaksen Solar: We’ll Be Your Guide

It’s important to work with an experienced solar installer who can present you with all your options and help you make the most informed decision.

Isaksen Solar has ample experience installing all three of these technologies. We’re confident we could match you with the right inverter after looking at your project’s specifications and your energy goals. We’ll present our suggestion but leave the decision making up to you. Installing solar is about regaining your power in energy production. We’re here to guide you and keep you informed, every step of the way.

We have answers to all of your questions. Give us a call to learn more, (508) 717-3820, and see how solar can fit into your life.