The market for renewable energies continues to grow and the systems for solar microinverters will expand rapidly. By 2023, the microinverter market is expected to grow to $ 5.88 billion and be the leading choice for solar systems.
In this article we are going to describe what microinverters are and what advantages they have. Then compare them to string inverters and discuss the market leading Enphase microinverter.
What are microinverters?
Microinverters convert the direct current generated by solar panels into alternating current that can be used by a household or business. In contrast to string inverters, in which each panel only has to be connected to a central inverter, a solar micro-inverter is connected to each panel.
The popularity of microinverters has continued to grow in large part because they overcome the efficiency problem of string inverters. A small amount of shade can affect the performance of an entire string inverter setup because the system will only work as well as the least efficient panel. In the case of micro-inverters, however, they work individually. So if one disk is blocked by dirt, the remaining disks will still work at maximum capacity.
String inverter VS micro inverter
Solar systems that use micro-inverters offer numerous advantages over string inverters. Microinverter systems have less downtime because there is no single point of failure. Each panel converts the performance individually and is not affected by the performance of other panels. This also means that the overall performance of the system is higher. In contrast, the performance of the entire system can be reduced by more than 50% if a panel in a string inverter setup is only covered with 9% shade.
Microinverters work exceptionally well over a wide temperature range from -40 ° C to 85 ° C. String inverters, however, have a much narrower temperature range of -25 ° C to + 60 ° C, with performance deteriorating well before the extreme ends of this range. This is an essential factor for anyone living in areas with hot summers as it can have a significant impact on the life of your installation.
When considering the cost of installing solar, it is important to discuss the amount of initial setup versus the life cycle cost. While string inverters are initially cheaper to set up, repairing the string inverter in the event of a failure causes half the lifetime cost of a solar system. Therefore, the amount you pay for the life of a micro-inverter is significantly less than that of a string inverter, as the probability of failure is far lower.
As micro-inverters are becoming more and more popular, the acquisition costs are now very cheap compared to high-quality string inverters, until almost all of our customers choose micro-inverters.
With microinverters, you also benefit from the additional flexibility that comes with the fact that each panel does not have to be connected directly. This means that you can distribute panels over several roof surfaces and organize them so that the power is distributed over the day to match your household energy consumption. With a string inverter, all panels must point in the same direction around noon and have a single productivity peak. Some string inverters allow two strings, and in general each string must have 7 or 8 panels so that a split system is not possible with smaller system sizes.
Splitting your panel array can sometimes involve additional installation costs. So it's worth speaking to a Solaray representative to discuss the best design for your home.
Advanced system monitoring
Another important advantage of a micro-inverter setup is the possibility for us as installers to monitor individual panels. This makes it easier to identify and replace faulty panels, as well as identify significant problems with the system. Enphase microinverter systems come with software that makes it easy to keep track of your statistics. The monitoring platform also offers status alerts to identify errors in the system immediately.
String inverter installations, on the other hand, only allow general system monitoring and it can often be impossible to identify problems without a service check or a higher than expected utility bill. As a result, it can be more difficult to diagnose and troubleshoot performance issues, making Enphase Monitoring a complete game changer.
Safety is paramount in any electrical installation, and solar is no different. Enphase microinverters have an incredibly low voltage between 48-60V, which is less than a table fan. This means there is no risk of electric shock. In contrast, a string system has ten times the voltage at 600 V or more. This means that DC isolators and special switches are required to reduce the risk of arcing faults and electric shock.
Would you like to learn more? The 10 main advantages of Enphase microinverters
Why Enphase is the best microinverter
Enphase was founded in 2006 and is the market leading manufacturer of microinverters. They have manufactured well over 20 million microinverters and currently have 820,000 installations. Enphase is a technology pioneer and leads the charge against string inverter systems.
Each generation of Enphase microinverters is powered on for 1,000,000 hours of testing before being released. They are also driven 1000 times through temperatures in the range of -40 ° C to 85 ° C to prove their robustness. There is no other supplier of microinverters that carries out such extensive tests on its product range.
Enphase offers a standard ten-year guarantee. It's a full replacement guarantee so you won't be out of your pocket in the event of a mistake. Due to the systems developed by Enphase, the microinverters are ideal for anyone considering incorporating batteries into their solar system. If you want to increase your production adding batteries, you can easily add additional panels to your array.
Solaray has been at the forefront of the solar revolution for years and we are the leading solar company in Sydney and Melbourne. If you are considering solar microinverter installation we are the largest and most experienced enphase installer in Australia.
The reliability of microinverters
All inverters have an optimal operating temperature and become less efficient when temperatures are outside their ideal range. A solar micro inverter can be operated from -40 ° C to 85 ° C. In product tests, Enphase runs its microinverters through this temperature range more than 1000 times without any significant reduction in efficiency.
The robustness of microinverters like those from Enphase is excellent. Prior to its release, Enphase put each generation of its inverters through 1 million hours of power-on testing. They also produce between 1 and 3% more energy than string inverters, which makes a remarkable difference over the life of the inverter.
Their research has also shown that microinverters are far more reliable than their string counterparts, which has been proven across Australia for many years. With 50% of all lifelong solar maintenance costs caused by string inverter failure, microinverter reliability is great for anyone looking to reduce the overall cost of their installation. You can read more about this here: The reliability of Enphase microinverters.
Which type of inverter is the most efficient?
Without a doubt, an enphase microinverter installation is far more efficient compared to a typical string inverter setup. You can get higher output rates with a micro-inverter. Each panel works independently and the yield is not negatively affected by any shadow or dirt that could block a panel. The temperature range in which a microinverter can work efficiently also exceeds that of its counterpart to the string inverter by far.
The 7th generation IQ7 & IQ 7+ from Enphase contains the most advanced micro-inverter technology in the world. It has an efficiency of 96.5%, which means that it only loses 3.5% efficiency in the form of heat. It is compatible with all high performance solar panels to maximize performance and the smart grid for a seamless setup.