In a solar panel system, inverters are the most important equipment after the solar panels. Solar energy experts and industry insiders would all agree that inverters are the brain of the solar panel system. Inverters monitor so that the installer, owner, or maintainer can get knowledge about the performance of the system. Here is a short guide on different types of inverters in the market to make things easier for you when it’s time to choose solar inverter for your home.
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1. String Inverters
A string inverter is used with solar arrays to convert direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC). It is the most commonly used inverter in today’s time. String inverters comprise a big part of the world’s solar inverters market and are the most cost-effective inverter available for you. Generally, solar companies will offer you this inverter if your roof is not shaded and panels don’t face different directions.
- Cost Range: $1000 to $2000 depending on brand and size.
- Our pick: Fronius Primo
A string inverter is good for most homes, most commonly used, and is the least expensive. The only downside is if one panel becomes slow and less efficient or there is some shading, it can make the entire system less efficient.
Microinverters are small inverters typically installed on the back of each individual solar panel. They are becoming more and more common. Although microinverters can be more expensive than string inverters, their costs are decreasing over time.
Microinverters allow you to monitor your system’s performance, and easily update and repair old solar panels. However, choosing microinverters for your system might result in a higher price per watt in dollars. It will also increase the complexity of the solar installation procedure.
- Cost Range: A single microinverter can cost around $200. Overall, it usually costs 20% more than using a string inverter.
- Our pick: Enphase iQ7+
A microinverter provides more flexibility and performs relatively well in partial shades. It can provide an efficiency increase of 12% overall.
3. Central Inverters
Central inverters are the same as string inverters but larger. Solar installers usually use central inverters for commercial purposes and not in residential areas. They can handle up to 500KW per compound. Solar panels are installed in a row connected to a string, so central inverters are large enough to support more strings. It can also be called a large string inverter. The advantage of having central inverters is their high efficiency.
- Cost range: Around $0.4 per Watt peak
4. Battery Inverters
Battery inverters manage the charging and discharging of the battery bank. Not only do they convert DC into AC, but they also convert AC into DC for charging the battery bank from the solar panels system. These inverters retrofit batteries to your solar panel system or you keep them separate. It converts battery power into 230V AC. With the growth of solar plus storage, battery inverters become more and more important.
- Cost range: It typically adds $2000 – $3000 to the overall cost.
- Our pick: SolarEdge StorEdge
5. Hybrid Inverters
Hybrid inverters (aka multi-mode inverters) provide a mixture of on-grid and off-grid inverter solutions. They allow you to plug or connect batteries into your solar power system. These inverters intervene in the battery by utilizing a technique called “DC coupling”. Hybrid inverters are a great value for the money. They provide a complete alternative to an off-grid solution. Which saves you money each day usage, because it is smarter. They are also capable of providing backup solutions during a power break.
- Cost range: Usually $1000 – $2000, but $3000 models are also available.
Hybrid or battery-ready inverters need a compatible battery, which is more expensive than regular inverters; but prices are falling. They provide the best reliability if you’re planning on installing a solar + battery system.
So what inverter should you choose for your home? Well, it all depends on your needs. We hope this simple “how to choose solar inverter” breakdown has been a helpful tool. It’s an important piece of information that many first-time solar system buyers are unsure of, so a better understanding will only benefit you in your purchase! Make sure you communicate well with your solar company and installer so you can pick the right inverter for your situation.