What Is a Solar Inverter? 

What Is a Solar Inverter

A solar system goes beyond the panels. Solar inverters play a crucial role in turning the energy the panels get from sunlight into usable electricity for your appliances. We’ll give you a full scope of how solar inverters work, which types are available in the market, and our recommended inverter that we use for our clients’ installations.

So, What Is a Solar Inverter?

A solar inverter (also known as a photovoltaic inverter or grid-tie inverter) is an electronic device that converts direct current (DC) electricity produced by solar panels into alternating current (AC) electricity. This allows solar energy to power household and commercial appliances and integrates the solar system with the electrical grid to feed it with the excess energy panels produce. 

Inverters are also essential for ensuring the quality, compatibility, and safety of the electricity generated, minimizing the risk of appliances and equipment damage, and helping maintain the grid’s stability and reliability. 

Types of Solar Inverters

String Inverters

String inverters typically connect multiple solar panels in a row, forming a “string” of panels, and convert all the incoming DC energy to usable AC energy. Due to their lower cost and relatively straightforward installation process, string solar inverters are popular in solar residential and commercial installations. 

However, string inverters come with a few downsides. They may not be suitable for installations with significant shading issues, as shading can affect the entire string’s output. A string configuration also makes the whole system prone to a single point of failure, meaning that if one of the panels or the inverter malfunctions, the output of the entire string will be affected. 

Using string inverters also limits a system’s scalability because of how the panels are wired together, limiting installation flexibility, especially when panels are distributed across multiple orientations or roof sections.


Solar microinverters are small, individual inverters installed directly on each panel in a solar power system. Unlike traditional string inverters connected to multiple solar panels in a row, microinverters operate on a per-panel basis, independently converting the DC electricity generated by each panel into AC electricity.

We recommend microinverters because they offer several advantages that offset the cost savings of using string inverters. Let’s discuss them in more detail:

  • Enhanced system performance: Microinverters operate per panel, allowing each panel to operate independently and improve its power output, especially in shading or panel mismatch scenarios. As a result, microinverters can maximize the energy production of the entire system.
  • Better monitoring: Microinverter systems come with built-in monitoring and control capabilities that allow users to monitor the performance of each panel in real time. This provides valuable insights into system performance and enables proactive maintenance, troubleshooting, and optimization. For example, we use APsystems microinverters for our installations, and our clients can monitor each panel’s energy output using the APS phone app. 
What Is a Solar Inverter

Source: APsystems

  • Flexibility and scalability: Microinverters offer flexibility in system design and expansion, as each panel operates independently. This scalability makes adding new panels or modifying the system according to specific energy needs or available roof space easier. The design’s flexibility also makes installations with complex roof configurations, multiple orientations, or varying panel specifications possible.
  • Increased safety: Microinverters operate at lower voltages than string inverters, minimizing the risk of electrical hazards during installation, operation, and maintenance.
  • Higher system reliability: Microinverters’ modular nature reduces the impact of a single point of failure. If one microinverter malfunctions, it only affects the panel it is connected to, while a string inverter failure could impact the entire string of panels. 

The Final Take

Despite microinverters being the best option for optimal system performance, choosing between string inverters and microinverters will ultimately depend on your project’s needs and budget. Although string inverters have some drawbacks, they aren’t deal breakers and can perform properly.

We hope you leave this article with the knowledge to help you make the best decision for your circumstances. If you have more questions, we can help. Book a free consultation and ask us all your solar questions.