Solar inverters are the unsung heroes of solar energy. Let’s talk about what they do and why you need to know.
The small but mighty solar inverter
Some folks call it the heart of a solar energy system, others call it the brain. Either way, the point is: the solar inverter is really important. Solar panels may get all the attention, but inverters are arguably the star of the show because they make your solar energy usable!
How does it work?
Solar panels use the sun’s energy to produce direct current (DC). However, your home uses alternating current (AC) for power. Solar inverters transform direct current from your panels to alternating current for your home.
There are two main types of residential solar inverters to choose from:
Central inverters are typically installed close to your existing main service panel. Most systems run on one central inverter; large systems may need two or more.
All solar panels connect to your central inverter and send the energy they produce to it. The central inverter then converts that energy to AC power for your home.
Pros: Central Inverters can be easier to service since they are usually installed at ground level. They can also include features like integrated EV charging and integrated support for DC-coupled batteries.
Cons: If your central inverter fails, your entire system is down until it is repaired.
Microinverters are small, individual inverters installed underneath each solar panel. Each microinverter converts that panel’s output to an AC circuit, and all output merges at the AC combiner panel. We install Enphase® microinverters, which are the most advanced on the market and are backed by rigorous testing.
Pros: If a microinverter fails, only one panel is down. This means the rest of your solar array can continue producing power! Burst technology lets microinverters produce more at dawn, dusk and in lowlight conditions, which makes for a longer solar day. Streamlined components make for quicker and less costly installations. High-quality materials and remote problem-solving save money on repairs. Enphase microinverters also come with a 25-year warranty.
Cons: Microinverters can be more challenging to replace since they are installed at the solar panel (typically on the roof).
What size do I need?
The size of your solar system is the biggest factor in choosing the right inverter size. When you work with Baker Home Energy, you’ll have Solar Professionals guiding you through this.
Generally, your solar inverter cost for either a central inverter or microinverters will be proportional to system size. Microinverters may run a bit more upfront since you’re purchasing one for each solar panel.