SunPower's micro-inverters

Snow is not a problem for solar.

November 15, 2017

by — Posted in Micro-inverter, Solar

With winter coming, folks have been asking if snow is a problem for solar energy systems. No, not with micro-inverters. Also:

  • In our part of the country solar panels are installed at an angle and  snow slides right off.
  • Solar modules are pointed at the sun so snow melts fast.
  • In our area, there really aren’t that many snowy days.
  • Micro-inverters avoid losses if just one module is covered in snow.

“What is a micro-inverter?”

To start, an inverter is a device used in photovoltaics (solar) that converts direct current (DC) generated by solar modules to alternating current (AC). A micro-inverter is connected to a single module (panel) and focuses on that module’s individual energy production.

The other type of inverter is the conventional string-inverter. String-inverters are connected to multiple panels of a solar pv system and converts power from groups of panels in an array. A 25 module solar array could easily consist of just one inverter. The string-inverter is usually located at the ground level of a home, in the garage, or outside with the electrical panels.

The micro-inverter offers many benefits including:

  1. Maximized Production:  Because each panel is optimized individually, each panel is ensured maximum production. This means that one underperforming panel will not bring down the performance of the entire solar energy system as a whole. The performance of a solar panel could be affected by mother nature (shade created by a fallen leaf, snow, tree shading, or even bird droppings) With conventional string-inverters the entire solar energy system’s performance is affected by the shade on one solar panel… and if that panel is at the beginning of the string it will affect the performance of every panel there after.
  2. Longer Life Span: String-inverters, with the entire system running through them, are constantly hit with high power and high heat.  This takes a toll, which makes their lifespan and warranty significantly shorter (10-15 years) than that of micro-inverters.
  3. Easily Modified: You may want to add more solar panels to your solar energy system in the future, maybe to accommodate an electric car.  If you add a new panel or panels, with micro-inverters there is no need to restring your entire system. With string-inverters, you may need to add another inverter to accommodate the additional panels, or purchase a larger inverter for your system than you currently need when considering future options.
  4. Performance Monitoring: Micro-inverters often come with online performance monitoring systems that allow you to visually monitor the performance of every panel, and your system as a whole.  The ongoing monitoring of your system allows you to make tweaks to optimize it, and gives you the capacity to know when certain panels go out or are underperforming.
  5. Safer: In a string-inverter solar energy system setup, the solar panels are strung together in a series before the inverter.  This means that there is extremely high DC voltage running through the wiring, which can be extremely dangerous, and life threatening to the homeowner.  Micro-inverters eliminate this extremely high voltage current, which is safer and more efficient.
  6. Silent: Micro-inverters produce significantly less heat, so no active cooling system is needed. No fan equals no noise.
  7. Aesthetics: Micro-inverters completely eliminate the bulky inverter for a streamlined design that takes up less space.

Are you convinced that micro-inverters are the way to go? So are we. When searching for solar panels with attached micro-inverters remember to look for quality construction to protect your investment. SunPower factory installs their micro-inverters. Each micro-inverter is securely attached to the rail of their solar modules. A lower quality module with a micro-inverter attached to the back panel with tape can be prone to failure. In addition, if an inverter is not attached to the rail external wires may be needed for grounding. Contact Good Energy Solutions if you would like to learn more about a SunPower solar energy system for your home or business.

Pod cast about cold weather temperatures and commercial solar.

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