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What Does an Inverter do?
The inverter is a critical part of any Solar array. It converts the high voltage DC current that is generated by a PV module into low voltage AC current which is necessary to make the energy useable within the home.
If integrating a battery solution into the array, or for an ‘Off grid’ system, a ‘Hybrid’ Inverter is necessary. This has the extra functionality needed to control and manage batteries which standard String inverters do not have. However, some battery solutions are stand alone in that respect, and include their own battery inverter and controller which means they can be integrated into a system with only a basic String inverter at any time.
Metalcraft uses products from a range of Inverter manufacturers, depending on which is most appropriate for each situation depending on scale, individual site requirements and cost effectiveness. These include SMA, SolaX, Enphase, Goodwe and Outback.
Top Image: Individual Micro Inverters Single Shared String Inverter
You can find more info on these differences here: https://enphase.com/en-au/products-and-services/microinverters/vs-string-inverter
String inverters are the conventional technology whereby all the DC energy produced by the rooftop modules is received by a single inverter located within the home, which then converts the DC current to useable AC current for use within the home.
These systems offer a cost saving so are most commonly used, however there are some potential limitations in that the performance of the whole array is limited to the performance of the weakest panel. That means if one panel receives partial shading at some point of the day, or gets some obstruction such as leaf debris, then all the panels output is limited to the same level even if some are not shaded or obscured. However, DC optimisers, such as "Tigo" are another more economical option for individual panel management that could also be considered.
However, for larger arrays in commercial settings or with three phase wiring, String inverters are more favourable. They are also supported by online monitoring software packages.
Micro inverter technology is a development of the conventional String inverter design. Instead of having one large inverter unit inside the dwelling to manage the whole array, this option employs micro inverter discretely mounted on the underside of each solar panel to manage each panel.
The energy generated immediately converts to an AC current before it leaves the panel along a ‘daisy chain’ wiring pattern that runs directly to the distribution board. This eliminates the need for a regular standalone inverter. and because DC currents are converted to low voltage AC current immediately it is considered to have safety advantages.
Example of Micro Inveter.
Microinverter technology is designed to maximise the production of each module, however it does incur extra costs in terms of hardware. A Microinverter system is complemented by advanced communications hardware in the form of the ‘Envoy-S’, and the ‘MyEnlighten’ intelligent software platform to deliver reliable, high-performance solar arrays that produce more energy over their lifetime. The increased production from individual management makes a Micro Inverter System a premium solar offering with an accelerated return on investment for system owners.
The Envoy-S is the brains of the system, gathering data from your microinverters and delivering it to Enlighten software. This unit not only records generation data, but now it can also monitor energy consumption patterns in the home which is extremely useful information to have when assessing battery requirements in the future. This can be accessed online via laptop or mobile device.
MyEnlighten connects system owners to their solar experience through an engaging and easy to use interface that provides insight into energy production, system health and earned environmental benefits that can easily be enjoyed with others.
For more information on Enphase and their products please visit: enphase.com