Micro Inverters VS Central Inverters

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Micro inverters are arriving and they are getting quite good. Which is better; micro inverters or good ol’ central string? Let’s compare between the 2 with no bias — just facts.

Why Central Inverters Are Good

Central inverters have been around for a long time. There has been lots of  time to improve these, to a level that is both ‘pocket friendly’ and does what it should. They are good for these reasons:

  1. Central inverters are cheap, when compared to their micro cousins. This means that most people can afford to buy them. Not only is their initial price lower, their install cost will also be less due to less labour.
  2. They are less prone to damage through dust, snow and other stuff. This is because they are sitting snug on your wall (e.g. in a garage). This is a very good thing, and it means less ongoing costs.
German solar inverter

German-made SMA “Sunny Boy” inverter. These are top-of-the-line central inverters made for the customer who wants the very best.

Why Micro Inverters Are Good

While micros came much later, they are starting to cause major buzz in the market. This is because of their better output (especially in shade) and monitoring ability.

micro inverters by solarbridge

Here is a panther micro inverter by SolarBridge

Micro inverters are better than their central cousins in these ways:

  1. Micros are more efficient because they work on each solar panel individually. This means that if one solar panel fails, it doesn’t affect other panels.  A defect of one solar panel in a central setup would cause a major problem, since they are all connected.
  2. Micro inverters are also more durable when compared to central inverters. They are less prone to issues of over-heating, high voltage or high resistance. This means that the same micros will operate well for a long period of time.
  3. They are more effective, because if a certain part of the solar panel is shaded or covered, power will keep being made by the other solar panels. They function independently.
  4. Micros are easy to maintain. It’s also easy to increase the number of solar panels if need be.
SMA micro inverters

SMA also has a micro inverter although it’s not yet available in Aus.

OK… So Which Is Better?

So which one is better? Clearly micro inverters have more fancy features and will give you more in the long run. Experts reckon you get around 6% more power from micros – even when it’s sunny. On the other hand, central inverters are very good at what they do and most people don’t need any more than what the central units have to offer. Maybe as micros get cheaper they will be worthwhile but for now, it looks like they are a luxury most of us can’t afford.

 

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