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String inverters vs micro inverters. Which solution is best for you?
When the solar consultant from Dillon and Kenzie Electrical visits your home for a solar meeting one of the things discussed is where your new solar panels will go, including their orientation and any potential shade.
Depending on the type of system you would like and the roof layout we will recommend either a string inverter like the Fronius GEN24 or Micro Inverters like the Enphase system.
In the past it was recommend that if your roof had any shade issues then microinverters were the only way to go but with quality systems designed with smart fast string inverters and good panels the systems are getting better at recognising shade and minimising the negative effect they can have on our solar system performance and the need for microinverters has reduced.
With the help of solar panels featuring bypass diodes allowing a portion of the panel to be completely bypassed when its shade levels are too high, this protects the panel from damaging hot spots and also allows the rest of the panel to continue working without the full drop in production. The rest of the string also carries on as normal and the need for each panel to work on their own isn’t what it used to be.
It’s still important to look at the overall design of your solar system, keeping panels out of shade areas, selecting the best orientation and quality gear will still give the strongest system and therefore the best return on your investment.
Pros for string inverter
A more cost effective system as only one piece of equipment it purchased and installed from the ground.
If one string inverter stops working then it can be easy replaced as its often installed in an easy to access position, (not on the roof) and labour costs will be much lower (especially important if your inverter warranty has finished)
Hybrid string inverters are available making a better battery ready system
A quality inverter can be as efficient at controlling light to medium shade conditions as a micro inverter system.
Pros for micro inverter
The best option in extreme shading.
If one micro inverter fails, it only stops one panel and the rest of the system can carry on.
Can add more panels at a later date although adding a few panels at a time is not a cost effective way to build a solar system.
Good that DC cable isn’t running through roof with their high voltages but when selecting a quality company like Dillon and Kenzie Electrical to do your install this isn’t an issue as our work is of the highest standard so its as safe as any other circuit in your property
Great for areas where you don’t have the space in a garage etc to install a string inverter.
Helpful when you have limited roof space and need to install on multiple orientations.
Cons for string inverter
If your string inverter stops working, then the whole system is offline until it is replaced.
When shade conditions are extreme, they will not be a match for a microinverter system.
Limited when multiple orientations are required although this can often be rectified with the selective use of optimisers.
High voltage DC cable travels from the roof to your inverter, although with a quality install like the one performed by some of Brisbane’s best electricians at Dillon and Kenzie this install will be as safe as any other circuit in your property.
Cons for micro inverter
Extra equipment exposed to the elements on the roof increases the failure rates
Replacing the one micro inverter can be difficult, the electrician will need to access the roof and there is no guarantee that the affected panel is within easy reach of the edge. Resulting in removing clamps, railing, which can quickly increase labour costs. This is especially important if your microinverter is out of warranty.
The cost of a microinverter system can be 20-30% higher than a standard string inverter.
At Dillon and Kenzie Electrical we have installed hundreds of solar systems, the vast majority with string inverters. Whether a microinverter or string inverter is the best choice for you will be dependent on your roof layout and ultimately your personal needs.
Give us a call to arrange a complementary site visit and quote to discuss how we can help you.