The Beginner’s Guide to Residential Solar Inverters: PV vs. Micro vs. Hybrid

Solar inverters. What are they, and do you really need one for your home’s solar energy system? Short answer: Absolutely. Let’s talk about the role of solar inverters and break down some key differences between PV inverters, microinverters, and hybrid inverters.

The main task of solar inverters is simple: to convert direct current (DC) from your solar panels to alternating current (AC) that you can use for your home’s energy consumption. Without a solar inverter, there is no useable energy. Most residential buildings only use AC energy and not the DC energy that the solar panel produces. This is why solar inverters are essential to your energy system and why it’s crucial to choose the right inverter for your needs. Taking into consideration the size of the home, the amount of energy consumption needed, and the desired performance and capabilities, there are many choices for which inverter is most suitable. There are many types of solar inverters available in the market. Let’s talk about 3 types that are popular for residential applications.

PV Inverters

In PV inverter systems, all the energy generated by your solar panels will be sent to a single inverter. The solar panels are connected together by wires, which transfer DC energy to the central inverter. The inverter then converts the DC energy into useable AC energy for your home.

Pros

Low cost: The PV inverter is the more affordable inverter option on the market. Because only one main inverter is needed for a solar energy system, you pay for one product and fewer labor hours for installation.

Easy Maintenance: You can install this inverter in any location in your home, whether it be indoors or outdoors, making it easily accessible for upkeep. Because a single PV inverter is all you really need, its maintenance and repairs are quick and easy.

Cons

Inefficient performance in the shade: If there’s shading on one of the panels, it affects the performance of all panels. This means you will produce less DC energy from your solar panels, thus producing less useable AC energy.

Lack of resiliency: PV inverters do not work in power outages as it is a grid-tie system. If the power goes out, then the power that keeps the inverter working disconnects.

Microinverters

Microinverters are a little different. Instead of having a single main inverter, such as in PV inverter systems, each solar panel is installed with its own smaller inverter, converting DC energy to AC energy right at the panel. These microinverters take absolute advantage of the power production of each panel, maximizing energy generation.

Pros

Optimal Performance: Due to having an individual microinverter, each panel has optimal performance despite any shading on the other panels. Microinverter systems will continue to produce as much energy as possible.

Cons

Higher cost: Microinverters generally cost more than string inverters. You will pay more for equipment as well as the higher labor hours for installation.

Higher maintenance: Because they are distributed across the roof, it can be longer and more difficult to maintain or repair if problems arise.

Lack of resiliency: Your home will not have energy in the event of a power outage as this inverter connects to the grid.

Hybrid Inverters

Hybrid solar inverters use energy from both solar panels and battery storage. This means that in addition to the energy produced in your solar panels, your system can also draw stored energy from a battery bank for backup power.

Pros

Reliability & Resiliency: You can rely on hybrid inverters for consistent energy powering a whole home due to its stored energy, even during outages or cloudy days.

Cons

Higher Complexity: Hybrid inverter system design and installation take more skill, research and effort than other solar inverters. Homeowners need an experienced and skilled installer due to the complexity of this inverter.

Product Recommendations

Looking for quality solar inverters with high resiliency, performance, and flexibility? Check out Schneider Electric Solar technologies.

XW Pro

The XW Pro hybrid inverters are perfect for your home power system. The resilience of the XW Pro protects your power even when the grid goes out.

XW Pro 230V

SW

The SW hybrid inverters are ideal for off-grid, backup power, and self-consumption for your home. Get higher returns for your investments with this easy-to-install inverter.

SW Solar Hybrid Inverter 230V