What Are Micro-Inverters, and Do I Need One?

Whether you need micro-inverters or string inverters in your solar system, and which of those would be the best choice, has to be considered carefully when you are purchasing a system for your home. The pros and cons of each are also important. Here is what you need to know.

Whether you need micro-inverters or string inverters in your solar system, and which of those would be the best choice, has to be considered carefully when you are purchasing a system for your home. In order to make the right choice you need an understanding of both of these inverters, what they do, and how they are different from one another. The pros and cons of each are also important. Here is what you need to know.

What Are Micro-Inverters?

Micro-inverters are used under each solar panel, to convert the sun’s energy to electricity. The advantage to this kind of inverter is that it is harnessing all the power right at the panel. That means you will get the maximum electricity production to the electric grid or your fuse box. It is also easy to expand your system when you have micro-inverters installed, because you can simply add more panels and more inverters. It is an easy way to add on to what you already have at a later date. A key difference between micro inverters and string inverters is that microinverters allow the panels to be individual to one another. This means that shading on one panel won’t affect the panels in that same string.

What is the Inverter’s Role in a Solar System?

In a solar system, the micro-inverter is designed to make the most of what you are getting from the sun. It does this by being strategically placed at each solar panel, instead of being in another location. Its proximity to the solar panel matters, because it minimizes loss of the collected energy before that energy is turned into useable electricity for your home. This is because the DC power is converted to AC power where the panel is located, rather than down near the switch board. This is just one of the advantages it has over a string inverter.

What is a String Inverter?

A string inverter is a unit that is installed as a stand-alone option. Typically, it is located near the fuse box and electric meter. It creates electricity from the strings of solar panels to which it is connected. Most residential solar panels have only one string inverter. Some larger systems may use two. These are easy to replace if they fail, and only needing one of them is a pro of using this type of inverter. But you risk losing a lot of the energy you collect, as it travels from the solar panels to the inverter. If we go back to the example of shading affecting panels, when shading covers one panel of a string inverter, the power output of each other panel on the same string actually gets limited to that panel’s output.

How Much Does a Micro-Inverter Typically Cost?

While micro-inverters are much smaller than their string inverter counterparts, they are also more expensive. This can add between 20 to 30 percent more to the price of a solar system. The price of these inverters is coming down, though, and eventually the extra cost of using them will be minimal. Still, it is important to remember that there are a lot of them needed — one for every panel. Additionally, they are on the roof. Trying to maintain or replace them can be more difficult due to their location, and they are also more subject to the effects of weather. Still, they are popular with a lot of people because they help maximize the value received from a solar energy system.

It is important to weigh the pros and cons of micro-inverters and string inverters when it comes to your individual budget, needs, and situation. That can make it easier for you to determine which one will be right for you.

If you are interested in installing solar on your Sydney home, contact Soltek Energy to get a quote.

How many panels or what size system will I need?

Getting a solar system for your home can give you the opportunity to save on your electric bills. But it is very important that you get the right system for your needs. Here are some of the most important things you should consider before choosing your new system.

Getting a solar system for your home can give you the opportunity to save on your electricity bills. But it is very important that you get the right system for your needs. How much power you use, what you have available to spend, and other factors will all play a role. Here are some of the most important things you should consider before choosing your new system.

How Many Solar Panels Do You Need for Your Home?

The peak output is what you want to look at when deciding the number of solar panels to use for your home. That output, though, is for a perfect, sunny day. You will not see the same level of output when you have overcast conditions or if a part of your roof is frequently blocked or shaded by trees or other buildings. How many panels you need, though, will come down to two things: how much energy you use, and how much you have or want to spend on the solar panel system. An additional consideration will be the size of the roof where you’re placing the panels, as there is only so much space available for them.

Understanding Electricity Consumption Patterns to Determine Output

The ways in which you use electricity matter when deciding how many solar panels you will need or what size system will be the best for your specific situation. Using electricity more evenly throughout the day can mean the need for a smaller system, mostly because there is not going to be a large drain on the system at any point during a 24-hour period. If you have a large home and family, though, or you use a large amount of electricity at one time, having a large system or more panels can be the right choice.

How Much Are You Prepared to Spend?

The amount you want to spend for your solar system is an important factor to consider. Some people even borrow against their mortgage in order to buy a larger system with the idea that it will pay off for them in the long run. That is not right for everyone, but it is well worth discussing when it comes to how you plan to fund your system and whether you should choose a larger one instead of a smaller one that may be more affordable up front.

Average kWh Per System Size

The average number of kWh (kilowatt hours) can be calculated with the understanding that every one kW of solar panels, you can expect to get about four kWh per day of electricity. That’s a rough estimate, and the amount can vary slightly from day to day. How much sunlight you receive, the time of year, and your location, as well as how the panels are oriented, all play a role in the actual production of electricity from your solar system.

By working with a good installer, you can focus on how many panels and the size of the system with confidence that you are getting quality answers to your questions. That will give you the maximum value for your new solar system.

If you are interested in installing solar on your Sydney home, contact Soltek Energy to get a quote.

What Are the Warranties on Panels and Inverters?

Choosing the right panels and inverters for your solar energy system is important, but so is making sure those components are warranted properly. But there is a bit of a catch to the warranty on these items, in that there are actually four separate warranties to be considered. Here is what you need to know about the most common warranties for these products.

Choosing the right panels and inverters for your solar energy system is important, but so is making sure those components are warranted properly. If they stop working for some reason or you have other problems with them, you want them to be covered. But there is a bit of a catch to the warranty on these items, in that there are actually four separate warranties to be considered. Here is what you need to know about the most common warranties for these products.

Panel Performance Warranty

The performance warranty on solar panels is generally for 25 years, although some manufacturers raise this warranty to 30 years, instead. When an installation company talks about the warranty on solar panels being for 25 years, it is generally on the performance only and does not cover other aspects of the system or the panels themselves.

Panel Product Warranty

Typically, the panel product warranty is between ten and fifteen years.
There are panels that also have 25 years product warranty, depending on the company that installs the panels and what they’re offering. This is far different — and far shorter — than the
panel performance warranty. However, many people incorrectly assume that the panel product warranty is the same as the panel performance warranty. That could lead them to thinking they have more coverage than they actually do, and for a longer period of time, as well.

Inverter Warranty

The Inverter warranty is almost always for five years, but there are sometimes upgrade options that can push this warranty to 10 years or longer. These upgrades are generally not free, and may be offered at the time of the sale or the time of the installation. Additional warranties can provide good value if they are low in cost, but it is important to understand how much the price will rise.

Installation Warranty

The warranty for the installation is provided by the installer, not the manufacturer of the solar panels or other system components. Usually this warranty is for one or two years. In some cases, installation warranties can be 10 years long, but this is not common. Asking your installer about the length of their warranty is vital to having the knowledge you need about your system.

What Should You Ask Your Installer About Warranties?

Before choosing an installation company for your solar panels and inverters, make sure to ask that company about their warranties. The installer may say there is a 25 year warranty, but it is important to understand that does not cover everything. While it may cover the panel performance, other aspects of the job have warranties that are much shorter. It is very important to understand exactly what you are getting.

Who Should You Speak to About Product Issues or Safety Risks?

If you have product issues or you see something you believe is a safety risk, contacting your installer is the first step. They are knowledgeable about the job they completed for you, and have all the information about the manufacturers of the products they installed, as well. Whether or not your panels or inverters are still under warranty, it is very important that you address safety risks and other problems promptly. With care and proper maintenance, your solar panels and inverters can provide good value and last a long time.

If you are interested in installing solar on your Sydney home, contact Soltek Energy to get a quote.