March 14, 2024

What is an Inverter?

An inverter allows for the direct current (DC) electricity that’s generated from solar panels to transform into alternating current (AC). This conversion is necessary as nearly all household appliances require AC electricity.

There are three different types of inverters: string inverters, power optimizers, and microinverters. The choice of inverter depends on various factors like budget, energy goals, and system layout.

String Inverters

String inverters are the oldest type of inverter technology. It is rare to only utilize string inverters in new solar projects as their lack of individuality in their wiring structure has proven to be inefficient.

String inverters are wired in a single strip and lead to a single inverter. This setup allows one low-performing panel to alter the performance of all panels in the array. Therefore, if just one panel is experiencing partial shading or is damaged, the rest of the system will be compromised.

Power Optimizers

Power optimizers are often used in conjunction with string inverters as they sit on the bottom of each panel and work to maximize each one’s efficiency before pushing the energy to the central inverter.

It’s best to equip panels with power optimizers if your system is partially shaded. This will guarantee your system is producing a maximum amount of energy at all times.


Microinverters operate in a separate system from string inverters and power optimizers. They independently convert panels’ energy from DC to AC before sending it directly into the home.

This option is typically the most expensive inverter structure but is usually very efficient as each panel is converted individually and consistently maximized to its energy potential.

Primary Functions of an Inverter

Inverters perform many functions in a solar system. Some of their primary roles include:

  • DC to AC Conversion
  • Voltage Regulation
  • Synchronization with the Grid
  • Monitoring and Control