Grid Tie Inverters -Converting Panel Power into Grid Power
Micro inverters individualize each panel in the array to eliminate the weakest link problem (think: the old christmas lights problem). Each micro inverter which will convert the power from it’s solar panel to grid voltage. Multiple solar panels are connected together and wired directly into the home’s distribution panel. The homeowners can usually view their daily production statistics online. The downside to micro inverters is that string lengths can be restricted.
In a string inverter system, multiple panels are connected in series directly to the string inverter. This system is typically used in commercial applications as it’s a cost effective way to install a large number of panels at a single location. For even larger arrays, multiple string inverters can be connected together. Often, residential systems are not big enough to benefit from string inverters. The downside to this type of system is that each string is only as good as the weakest panel.
Solar optimizers are a combination of both systems. Each panel is connected to an optimizer, which individualizes each solar panel and optimizes production. This is similar to micro inverters in a way. The optimizers are then connected together in a string. The strings all tie into an inverter and from there the power is fed into the home’s distribution panel. There are many advantages to using an optimizer system and therefore this is currently the most common system for residential installations.
Some advantages of this system are that the string length is less restricted, the panels can be installed further away (ei. ground mount), and larger, more powerful panels can be used. Often, it is also a more cost effective method than micro inverters. Each optimizer sends information to a monitoring platform so each panel’s individual performance can be viewed.
Charge Controllers – Converting Solar Power into Battery Power
PWM: Pulse Width Modulation
PWM charge controllers are a very cost-effective way to convert power from a solar panel into battery power, but only when paired with the appropriate panels and batteries. Essentially, if a PWM charger is given more voltage than the battery can accept, it just throws that extra power away as waste.
MPPT: Maximum Power Point Tracking
MPPT charge controllers are much more sophisticated and intelligent, and the price point reflects that. An MPPT charger uses an algorithm to adjust it’s voltage in order to harvest the maximum amount of power from the solar array. MPPT chargers are used in larger off grid applications or when space is limited, but many people also prefer them in small applications. MPPT’s often come with a display screen with information about they system and some even come with an app with detailed, real-time and historical data on the system’s performance.
Looking for more information or specifications on our charge controllers and inverters? Just ask! We can also advise you on which charge controller or inverter system is best for your application.