Choosing the right solar panel inverter

The solar power market is continuing to grow, and so is the range of available inverters. What are the differences between these types of inverters, and which inverter is suitable for your home or company building? Each inverter works differently. This article explains the differences in available inverters, and what to look for when choosing an inverter for your solar panels.

What is an inverter?

The inverter is an essential part of a solar panel system as, without an inverter, generated power cannot be utilised – simply because it is not suitable for use in the home. The inverter ensures that generated power is converted into alternating current that can be used by your electrical appliances.

There are different types of inverters:

  • The (traditional) string inverter
  • The micro-inverter
  • The power optimiser

String inverters are the cheapest and most common. Micro inverters and power optimisers are particularly interesting for panels that are subject to shading. These inverters ensure that a shaded panel does not diminish the power generated by the other panels. This way, you can optimise the yield from each individual panel.

What to look for when choosing an inverter

When choosing a suitable inverter, there is a number of factors to take into account. Firstly, there is the matter of efficiency. To ensure maximum yield from your solar panels, choose an inverter whose nominal power is between 10% lower and 10% higher than the nominal power of your solar panels at peak performance. This assures you of maximum efficiency. A power ratio of 110% does not result in a greater yield than a power ratio of 90%, which is why an inverter with less power is generally the most popular choice: the same yield at a lower investment.

In addition, determining the location of the inverter is important, and depends on the site of the solar panels and mains. The route from the solar panels via the inverter and into the mains should be kept as short as possible, as electrical cables are always subject to some resistance with may lead to a loss of power. By restricting the cable route, this loss is minimised. In addition, the inverter should not be installed in the mains cabinet, because this will limit its ability to release heat.

Once the location of the inverter has been established, you can determine the importance of its level of noise. Not all inverters are equally noisy, and an inverter positioned in the bedroom should not keep you awake at night. In this case, an extra quiet inverter is preferable.

There are also various monitoring options for inverters. How do you want to monitor your solar panels’ performance? Via Bluetooth or an app? Explore the possibilities before deciding.

Lastly, there is the issue of purchase price. Determine your inverter requirements, and compare the different brands. Growatt inverters have different characteristics than Huawei inverters, for example.

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