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Grid-Tie Solar Inverters Buyer’s Guide

If you’re in the market for a grid-tie solar system, you may have questions about string inverters vs. micro inverters vs. hybrid. Learn more about each in our handy buyer’s guide.

What are grid-tie solar inverters?

What Are Grid-Tie Solar Inverters?

A solar inverter is an essential component in any grid-tie solar panel array. Inverters convert DC power (direct current) into AC power (alternating current), creating usable energy for your home.

A solar inverter is like the central command center for your solar power system. It connects components and routes the power flow between them, serving as the entire system’s power processing hub.

The inverter also reports usage data to your monitoring app, giving you live insight into your system’s performance. As you search for the right solar system for your home, choosing the inverter type that’s suitable for your needs and electricity usage is essential.

There are Three Types of Inverters for Grid-Tie Solar Power Systems:

Micro Inverters

Micro Inverters

Micro grid-tie inverters are small, weatherproof DC-AC inverters. They’re suitable for solar systems in shaded areas and allow for future system expansion.

A microinverter is installed behind each solar panel, allowing for future expansion and continuous power if one of the units breaks down.

Micro inverter solar panel systems are the most popular choice among residential solar installations. This is because micro inverters are efficient, reasonably priced, easy to install and provide a smooth, hassle-free experience—even for novice solar installers. In addition, unlike string inverters, grid-tie micro inverter systems have no single point of failure.

Hybrid Inverters

Hybrid Inverters

One device, dual functions. Hybrid inverters, also known as battery-based inverters, combine the technology of a grid-tie inverter with a battery inverter. Like other grid-tie inverters, hybrid inverters convert DC electricity into AC electricity for both your solar panels and battery storage. That means a separate battery inverter isn’t necessary.

If you’re thinking about adding battery backup to your system, choose a hybrid inverter for maximum design flexibility, increased monitoring capabilities and lower maintenance overall. And enjoy peace of mind knowing that you’ll have backup power if the grid goes down, when paired with a battery.

Hybrid inverters currently cost more upfront than traditional grid-tie inverters. But ultimately, you can save more money in the long run compared to buying a non-hybrid inverter and a battery backup inverter separately.

String Inverters

String Inverters

String inverters have the lowest price point, but they also have more design challenges compared to other inverter types. Expansion (like adding more solar panels and batteries to an existing system) can be more difficult and expensive. String inverters for locations with limited shading to maximize performance. Although string inverter technology is traditional, they are still considered reliable because of their tried and true history in the solar power industry.

String inverters include one central inverter unit, with the solar panels “strung” together to connect back to the inverter. Most solar arrays will have one or two string inverter units. A string inverter mounts on a wall near the main service panel or the racking of a ground mount solar energy system.

String inverters cannot be used for roof-mounted systems unless paired with a panel-level rapid shutdown device.

Important note: String inverters have a single point of failure. If a string inverter goes out, your entire solar system goes down with it.

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    How to Choose a Solar Inverter For Your System

    Which type of solar inverter is right for you? Let’s see string inverters, power optimizers and micro inverters side by side:

    Grid-Tie String Inverters
    Grid-Tie String Inverters
    Grid-Tie Micro Inverters
    Grid-Tie Micro Inverters

    ★ Best system

    Hybrid Inverters
    Hybrid Inverters
    EconomicalLeast costlyReasonably pricedReasonably priced
    Single Point Of FailureYesNoYes
    Expandable?Yes but not easilyEasier to expandYes but not easily
    Performs Well in Limited Shade?Limited shade toleranceYesLimited shade tolerance
    Recommended For Roof or Ground Mounted System?

    ✓ Ground mounted

    ✓ Roof mounted

    ✓ Ground mounted

    ✓ Roof mounted

    Can I Monitor Each Solar Panel?System level monitoringYes, panel level monitoringSystem level monitoring
    Can I Add a Battery in the Future?Yes, but difficultYes, but difficultEasy battery expansion
    Can I Add a Generator?NoYes, but difficultEasy to add generator

    Learn more about the four types of solar inverters

    Trust the Experts at GoGreenSolar For Your DIY Solar Needs

    There is no one-size-fits-all solution for home solar. Ultimately, you must weigh all the factors and differences to decide which solar inverter is best for your needs.

    The experts at GoGreenSolar are veterans at DIY solar installations and can help you choose the best solar inverter for your home. We’ll also design your custom solar system and walk you through the installation process from start to finish.

    Reach out to GoGreenSolar to get started today!

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