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SOLAR POWER An introduction to solar inverters

From Luke James Reading Time: 3 min

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Solar inverters are the driving force behind solar energy systems. From small household solar deployments to large-scale farms that help to support the energy grid, every photovoltaic solar energy system requires a way to transform the direct current (DC) energy created by solar panels to alternating current (AC) power. That’s the job of the solar inverter.

In this article you will learn about the two types of solar inverter, how solar inverters work and what their benefits are.
In this article you will learn about the two types of solar inverter, how solar inverters work and what their benefits are.
(Source: Zstock -

What is a solar inverter?

A solar inverter is one of the most important pieces of equipment in a solar energy system. Its primary function is to accept DC power input from solar panels and turn it into AC power that’s needed to power appliances and connect to the grid. They also act as the main connection between the panels and the electrical distribution panel.

There are two types of solar inverter: the string inverter and the microinverter.

String inverter

A string inverter, also known as a central inverter, is a large device that accepts DC input from multiple panels and transforms all that energy into AC power. It essentially transforms DC power into AC energy at scale. In a solar energy system that uses a string inverter, all panels are typically wired into one central inverter. This inverter then feeds the electrical panel or the grid with AC power.
String inverters are ideal for use in solar energy systems where all the panels face the same direction and there is little disruption from shade or other sun-blocking elements. A good example is the Desert Sunlight Solar Farm in California.


A microinverter is, as the name suggests, smaller than a string inverter. Microinverters are attached to individual solar panels and convert the energy that’s generated immediately, before sending it to the electrical distribution panel where it “combines” with the power generated by all the other inverters. A solar energy system that uses microinverters essentially treats each solar panel as its own AC power source.
Microinverters are ideal for use in solar energy systems where not all panels face the same direction or where panels experience shade for some of the day. A good example is your standard household installation.

How does a solar inverter work?

A solar inverter technically works by converting DC to AC by rapidly switching the direction of a DC input. As a by-product, a DC input transforms into a 120V/240V AC output. When light hits a solar panel’s photovoltaic cells, its energy causes electrons in the semiconductor layers to begin bouncing around. This causes them to flow between the positive and negative layers of the photovoltaic cell via a junction, generating DC energy.

Once generated, this energy is either stored in a battery for later use or transferred directly to an inverter. When the inverter receives this energy, it is passed to a transformer which produces an AC output. By making the transformer behave like AC, the inverter tricks the transformer into believing that the DC input is AC. This is achieved by passing the DC energy through two or more transistors that rapidly turn on and off.

Benefits of solar inverters

Solar inverters deliver many benefits beyond the action of converting DC to AC. These include:

  • Maximizing power output: Solar inverters continuously monitor the voltage of the solar array to determine the highest power over which modules can operate.
  • Grid support: Modern smart inverters are capable of two-way communication, making them capable of supporting the grid. With software, smart inverters can carry out several grid-supporting operations.
  • Safe operations: Solar inverters are designed to shut off if an electrical arc occurs, which is a major risk factor due to material deterioration over time.

Solar energy systems are becoming more popular around the world in part due to growing climate change concerns and because the technology is maturing very quickly, and solar inverters play a crucial role in ensuring that the DC energy that’s generated by solar panels is converted into useful AC.

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(Source: Mesago)

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