Micro-Inverters vs. Power Optimizers: How to Pick a Solar Inverter Type

July 29 2021

White inverters installed on the backs of solar panels

Comparing micro-inverters vs. power optimizers may seem tedious. After all, they’re both module-level power inverters that convert energy. They can’t be that different, right?

The truth is, choosing the right solar inverter for your home system is incredibly important. While the panels convert sunlight into electricity, inverters are responsible for making sure that the electricity is actually usable.

While all inverters convert DC energy to AC energy, there are major differences in how different types of solar inverters work. In this article, we’ll cover these differences in detail. Learn more about micro-inverters vs. power optimizers here. Find out which solar inverter type is the best fit for your home.

Micro-Inverters vs. Power Optimizers

Many homeowners don’t know the differences between micro-inverters vs. power optimizers. Both micro-inverters and power optimizers are used for the same thing. They are also both module-level power inverters. This means that, unlike string inverters, they work on the individual panel level rather than the system as a whole.

Module-level power inverters can improve performance, especially in less than ideal conditions.

All types of solar inverters convert DC energy collected by solar panels into usable AC energy for homes. They also perform data monitoring and utility control tasks.

Micro-inverters are small inverters installed on one or every few solar panels. They do not cover as many panels as string inverters do.

Power optimizers are installed on every panel. Each power optimizer conditions the DC energy before sending it to a central string inverter. There, the string inverter converts the conditioned DC energy into AC energy. This two-step process combines string inverter and MLPE technology. In contrast, a solar micro-inverter does not use a string inverter at all.

Learn about more differences between micro-inverters vs. power optimizers below.

The Differences

1. The Setup

Sure, micro-inverters and power optimizers do the same thing, but how they do it is different. A solar micro-inverter converts DC energy to AC energy right at the panel where it is installed. On the other hand, a power optimizer “conditions” the energy first. In other words, it fixes the voltage of the DC energy to make the rest of the process more efficient. Once that’s done, it sends the energy off to a centralized inverter that is not located on the panels.

2. Maintenance

Both micro-inverters and power optimizers require more maintenance than typical string inverters, due simply to their location on the roof. However, they last longer in the long run. Since a power optimizer works in conjunction with a string inverter, it is more prone to issues and repairs.

3. Warranty

Both options typically come with a 25-year inverter warranty. The centralized inverter paired with the power optimizer system will likely have a shorter warranty. Keep this in mind when budgeting and calculating projected repair costs.

4. Battery

If you plan on using a battery with your system, you’ll need to choose wisely. While all types of solar inverters are compatible with battery storage, you may need to choose a particular type depending on whether you want a DC or AC coupled battery system. Consult a certified solar installer for more information.

5. Price

Power optimizers are typically cheaper than micro-inverters. Solar micro-inverters are the most efficient option, improving performance even in poor conditions, like shade. This efficiency translates to a higher price tag.

6. Aesthetics

Both options are small and installed on the backs of panels, however, power optimizers require a centralized inverter that is not installed on the panels themselves. Consider if you have a spot for this device.

Solar inverters attached to a system of ground-mounted panels

Making the Right Choice

If you’re having a tough time choosing between micro-inverters vs. power optimizers, turn to a certified solar installer. To make the most of your home solar system, find a qualified installer first. A high-quality installation company will help you make the most of tax incentives, choose the right solar inverter type, stick to a timeline, maintain your system, and much more.

Regardless of whether you need a solar micro-inverter or power optimizer, find one that will last with the help of a solar installer. Not sure which company to choose? Use Greenlife Solar. Greenlife Solar is a free price comparison site that helps you find the best deal on installation in your area.

Simply enter some information about your home here and we’ll send you free quotes from companies in your area that have the qualifications to handle your home solar project. All of the businesses we work with are qualified and pre-screened, so rest assured you’ll find an installer you can trust.

Compare types of solar inverters with a trustworthy solar installation company. Find the best option in minutes.

Compare Pricing from Certified Solar Installers in Your Area.