Solar panels are the most visible part of a solar system, but it si really the inverter that does all the hard work. There are two main technology types, String inverters or Micro Inverters. The key difference here is that a single string inverter manages all panels in an array and are limited by the lowest performing module in a string; whereas a microinverter is attached to the underside of each panel in the array and manages each panel independently.
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.
Although these systems tend to offer a slight cost saving at a residential scale, they do come with some 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 they are not shaded or obscured. However, DC optimisers are another more economical option for individual panel management that could also be considered.
Depending on the scale and individual requirements of each site, we select the most appropriate solution from a range of top quality and highly respected string inverters manufacturers including SMA, Solax, and Outback among others.
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. Instead of having one large inverter unit inside the dwelling to manage the whole array, this option has a micro inverter discretely mounted on the underside of each solar 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 larger standalone inverter, and because the electrician is not required to deal with DC currents, the connection process is less specialised, safer & quicker to install overall.
Microinverter technology maximises the production of each module, enabling flexible designs and cost-effective installations. 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