Our expert and consumer reviews of the leading brands of residential sized solar inverters show the best solar inverter to suit your home in 2019
The solar inverter is like the control center for your solar system. If you ask anyone that has been in the solar industry for a while, they will tell you the inverter is the most important part of the system. Far more system failures are due to inverter faults than are caused by problems with the solar panels themselves. Initially, most inverters were of the string inverters type, and SMA and Fronius were probably the leading string inverter manufacturers in the world. Then along came micro-inverters that were pioneered by the American company Enphase around 2011 and started to gain traction. Read more
Micro-inverters optimized power at the panel level rather than the array level as string inverters do. Another American brand Solar Edge then further developed the industry with panel level power optimizers. These did not convert the power to AC at the panel level as the Enphase micro-inverters did, but intead achieved much of the same benefit by varying the voltage at each panel to maximize the output current. The power optimizers were able to handle shade and differental roof planes much like a micro-inverter but with less electronics (and thus lower costs and better reliability) on the roof. We here at SolarReviews like power optimizers ver much, but we are also still big fans of Fronius and SMA string inverters.
However, the competition between the technologies may be about to skew heavily in favor of the optimizers and micro-inverters because it may be easier to comply with the new Rapid Shutdown requirement of the 2017 NEC code that will come into play in 2019. The revised rapid-shutdown requirements in 690.12(B)(2) provide three compliance options for reducing hazards within a PV array:
Option 1: List and label or field-label PV array as a rapid-shutdown PV array.
Option 2: Limit control conductors within the array boundary to 80 V or less within 30 seconds of rapid-shutdown initiation.
Option 3: Install nonmetallic PV array with no exposed wiring and array more than 8 feet from any grounded metal parts.
In layman's terms what this means is that from 1 January 2019 it will be a requirement that someone can isolate all connectors in an array externally so that that at no point there is more than 80 V connected. As I understand it, based on my limited technical knowledge, the optimizers and micro-inverters will meet this requirements because they can kill the active power within each panel quickly and effectively.
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