Centralized string inverters are still the most common technology option for rooftop solar panel systems in the United States. However, thanks the advantages that micro-inverters and power optimizers (often referred to as module-level power electronics, or MLPEs) offer, they are quickly gaining popularity. But are micro-inverters or power optimizers right for you and your solar panel system?
Micro-inverters and power optimizers offer similar benefits but operate in different ways. Both are mounted next to individual solar panels and prevent performance issues if one or more of your solar panels are shaded. The key difference is that micro-inverters convert the DC electricity generated by your solar panels into the AC electricity that your household appliances use, while optimizers “condition” the DC electricity before sending it to a central inverter.
MPLE technologies offer the following advantages over centralized string inverters:
Remember that, although micro-inverters and power optimizers are more efficient, they are not always a better investment. If you pay significantly more to get a system with micro-inverters or optimizers, you can get more power out of your panels, but it won’t always translate into a greater return on investment or shorter payback period. Get an instant estimate of solar savings with EnergySage’s Solar Calculator, or register your property to get solar installation quotes from qualified installers at no cost.
The potential disadvantages of micro-inverters and power optimizers have to do with maintenance and reliability, rather than how well the devices convert DC electricity to AC.
Micro-inverters and power optimizers are a premium product, but they come at a premium price. Spending the additional money for micro-inverters or power optimizers isn’t always necessary. They are the best option where partial shading or a complicated roof would negatively impact solar system performance. If you have an uncomplicated, unshaded roof, a string inverter can be a better value.
You should always shop around and compare the cost and savings associated with various equipment options and their cost and savings. Register your property on the EnergySage Solar Marketplace today to receive solar quotes from multiple pre-screened solar installers near you.
|String inverters||Micro-inverters & power optimizers|
|Warranty||5-10 years||25 years
|Performance when some panels are shaded||Poor||Good|
|Performance on “complicated” roofs||Poor||Good|
|Amount of electronics on roof||Least||Medium - Most|
|Performance with “complicated” solar panel arrays||Low||High|