Microinverters For Solar Panels: Pros and Cons


Climate change is driving increased demand for solar energy as a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.

Solar systems promise to appreciably reduce carbon dioxide emissions by replacing traditional energy sources. Thereby, contributing to the resilience and reliability of the electric grid.

In the current state of the solar energy sector, inverters play an indispensable role in solar panel systems. In fact, the role of inverters in solar energy has evolved to include not only the conversion of electricity, but also grid management, energy storage, and integration with different types of solar panels.

This article specifically discusses microinverters for solar panels—essentially, how they operate, their advantages and disadvantages, and their role in the solar ecosystem.

It also aims to divulge how they could fit in the grand scheme of a sustainable and greener energy future. So, without further ado, let’s get started!

types of inverter

What are solar microinverters?

A solar inverter is a critical component within a solar installation. It translates the direct current (DC) generated by solar panels into alternating current (AC) in a manner that’s compatible with the electrical grid.

In addition to this basic function, modern inverters may provide and absorb reactive power to help balance the grid. Thus, making them essential for grid stability and management.

There are several types of inverters, like central inverters, string inverters, and microinverters—each with its own applications.

Specifically, microinverters are employed to optimise the performance of individual panels. These plug-and-play devices are particularly useful in residential solar panel systems.

Furthermore, they offer higher production, as they aren’t affected by shading or obstructions on a single panel. Thereby, allowing each panel to perform at its fullest potential. They are also safer and reliable systems as no high-voltage DC power is on the roof.

source: ebay.com

How do microinverters work on solar panels?

Microinverters are typically installed directly onto each solar panel. This set-up strays away from traditional string inverters that connect multiple solar panels together in series.

In practice, each solar microinverter operates independently. This consequently allows maximum energy harvest—even when some panels are shaded or experiencing different sunlight levels. Hence, this independent mode of function creates no single points of failure.

Furthermore, its operation at the panel level, therefore, mitigates the effects of shading or panel mismatch. This typically significantly reduces the efficiency of a solar array.

Additionally, each panel’s performance can be remotely monitored individually. Thereby, providing more detailed insights into the system’s overall health and productivity. This, in turn, allows for issues to be pinpointed and potentially resolved without a site visit.

What are the advantages of a micro inverter?

Because microinverters are installed at the panel level, they manifest several advantages over conventional string inverters (connect multiple panels to a single inverter).

  • Microinverters enable each solar panel to operate independently. This eliminates the vulnerability of one defective panel affecting the entire system.
  • They utilise standard AC wiring and are plug-and-play. This makes them easier to install.
  • Microinverters for solar panels enable each solar panel to perform at its maximum potential. This is because they determine each system’s optimal voltage in order to generate the maximum peak power voltage (VPP).
  • They provide panel-level monitoring. This allows homeowners and installers to expeditiously identify underperforming systems and address issues immediately.
  • They eliminate any potential safety risks associated with high-voltage DC electricity.

What are the disadvantages of a micro inverter?

The major disadvantages of microinverters in solar systems include:

  • Microinverters are generally more expensive than traditional string inverters. This consequently leads to a higher upfront cost for the system.
  • Relatedly, replacing a microinverter can be more expensive and labour-intensive than a traditional inverter.
  • If a microinverter fails, it can be challenging to access and replace. This is because it’s typically located on the roof under the solar panel.
  • Some advanced monitoring features of microinverters require an internet connection. Unfortunately, internet connections may not be available in remote areas.
  • They introduce more potential failure points. This is principally because each panel is equipped with its own inverter. Thus, increasing the likelihood of equipment failure.

How many types of solar inverters are there?

  • Microinverters: Microinverters are mounted directly on each solar panel to convert the electrical current at the source of creation (the panel level).
    Designed to operate individually, they offer advantages like increased energy production and improved safety.
  • String inverters: Also called central inverters, these connect a string of solar panels in series to a single inverter. Thereby, converting the total DC input into AC output. They are the most common type of solar inverter.
    However, they are affected by the lowest-performing panel in the string and may manifest reduced energy production due to shading or panel issues.
  • Central inverters: These are similar to string inverters and are commonly deployed in large-scale utility and mid-scale solar projects. Despite being cost-effective, they may experience reduced power production if any individual panel in the string manifests issues.
  • Hybrid inverters: These inverters are designed for systems where backup battery storage is desired. This is because they can feed DC power directly into the battery. This consequently makes them more efficient than standard inverters for this purpose.
  • Battery-based inverters: These are expressly designed to work with battery storage systems. Also known as off-grid inverters, they allow the direct use of solar power or stored power from the batteries.
  • Dual micro-inverters: Similar to standard microinverters, these inverters are designed to handle the output of two solar panels instead of one. They provide enhanced efficiency and performance by optimising the power output of two panels individually.

Differences between micro inverters vs string inverters

The core distinction between microinverters and string inverters lies in their level of individual panel optimisation. With microinverters, each panel operates autonomously.

This consequently allows for maximum energy production even if some panels are shaded or experiencing disparate levels of sunlight.

In contrast, string inverters connect multiple solar panels together in series. So, if one panel’s output is compromised, it inadvertently affects the performance of the entire string.

What is the price of micro inverters for solar panels?

Microinverters for solar panels usually cost a couple of hundred dollars per unit.

Generally, prices largely vary depending on the brand, model, and system size.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):

How many solar panels can a micro-inverter handle?

Microinverters are typically designed to handle one solar panel each. For context, a 24-solar-panel system would need 24 microinverters.

However, nowadays, some manufacturers are producing quad microinverters capable of connecting to four solar panels.

With the introduction of quad microinverters, one could potentially utilise six microinverters to connect 24 solar panels, depending on the specific model and manufacturer.

What are the best microinverters for solar panels?

The best microinverter for a specific solar panel system is chosen based on disparate factors. For example, the size of the system, shading, and maintenance considerations.

How to evaluate microinverters?

When evaluating the quality of microinverters for solar panels, it’s imperative to consider the following:

  1. Power rating: Evaluate the maximum AC power the microinverter can produce from a single panel. This should ideally match or exceed the power rating of the panel.
  2. High-efficiency rating: Seek for a high-efficiency rating above 95%. This denotes the percentage of DC power that the microinverter can convert to AC power.
  3. Compatibility: Ensure the microinverter is compatible with different types of panels. For example, monocrystalline, polycrystalline, or thin film.
  4. Additional features: Consider additional functionality that the microinverter offers, like remote monitoring capabilities, rapid shutdown, and ease of use.
  5. Durability and warranty: Evaluate the durability and reliability of the microinverter, and look for extended warranties and service plans.
  6. Monitoring Capabilities: Check if the microinverter offers detailed performance monitoring, scalability, and improved safety with low DC voltages.

How do I choose suitable microinverters for my solar system?

When choosing suitable microinverters for a solar system, always carefully consider the pointers mentioned above to ensure optimal performance, reliability, and overall value.

How long do microinverters last?

The lifespan of microinverters is a key consideration when evaluating their suitability for a solar system. Modern microinverters traditionally come with a 25-year warranty. This matches the lifespan of most modern solar panels.

Can I use micro inverters off the grid?

Microinverters are not typically deployed in off-grid solar systems. In essence, they are primarily designed to work with grid-tied systems. Generally, off-grid solar systems require inverters capable of operating independently, without the need for a grid connection.

However, there are some off-grid microinverters available. These off-grid microinverters are more expensive than their grid-tied counterparts. However, their deployment in off-grid systems is not as common as in grid-tied systems.

Are microinverters and power optimisers interchangeable?

Microinverters and power optimisers are not interchangeable, as they serve different functions in a solar panel system. Microinverters convert DC energy into AC energy directly at the panel site.

On the other hand, power optimisers condition the DC energy, then transmit it to a central inverter for the DC to AC conversion. This reduces the impact of panel shading on system performance and offers panel-level performance monitoring.

What causes microinverters to fail?

Microinverters typically fail due to: communication problems, overheating, AC voltage fluctuations, grounding issues, and inverter failure.

To prevent these issues, it is imperative to ensure proper installation, continual monitoring, adequate ventilation, and regular maintenance of the microinverter system.

How do I care for my microinverters?

To care for microinverters, always check the array for dust, debris, leaves, and other soiling. Furthermore, regularly monitor the system performance and energy production from the microinverters.

In fact, consider calling a solar professional to perform an annual check to extensively inspect the array. The professional may also verify that the electrical and mechanical connections are intact and working efficiently.


As the solar energy sector continually grows, the importance of microinverters in the climate change landscape cannot be overstated. This is because they maximise energy production. Thereby, making the entire solar system more efficient by ensuring each solar panel is operating at its optimal operating point.

This consequently means that if one panel is obstructed for any reason, only that panel’s energy production will be affected. As such, the rest of the panels will continue to produce energy at their maximum capacity.

Additionally, microinverters increase the safety of the system by continually monitoring current and voltage. Thus, it detects any potential problems quickly to reduce the risk of fire.

So, homes should consider adopting microinverters for their solar installations to tap into higher energy yields and long-term cost savings.

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