An inverter is an integral part of a solar panels kit and its job is to convert DC electricity to AC electricity.
The solar panel outputs varying DC electricity according to the amount of sunshine that strikes the solar cells. Since a house requires clean, consistent AC electricity, at some point in the system, an inverter will accomplish that conversion.
There are two basic inverter technologies:
1. SMA inverter – Classic design, called the String Inverter System, in which many solar panels feed into one inverter. SMA has been making inverters for 30 years. They are very reliable and overall cost is less because many solar panels feed into one inverter.
2. Enphase microinverter – Enphase Energy has redesigned the system by connecting one solar panel to one microinverter. All of the microinverters are joined rather than all of the solar panels joining at one inverter.
The advantages of this design include:
- If one inverter fails, there is minimal loss of power, since the rest of the inverters continue to work
- Each microinverter can be monitored individually by the homeowner to reveal small problems before they become big problems.