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Should I choose a system with Enphase microinverters or SMA string inverter?

asked 2015-01-16 12:23:57 -0500

Naudia gravatar image

updated 2015-01-24 11:05:21 -0500


I am trying to choose between one system that has Enphase microinverters and another that uses an SMA string inverter. Which one is better for me? The Enphase system is a bit more expensive. Will I get my money's worth?

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answered 2015-02-13 12:02:52 -0500

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updated 2015-02-13 12:02:52 -0500

energysage gravatar image

Hi Naudia,

Both SMA string inverters and Enphase microinverters are quality products that are used widely in both residential and commercial solar installations in the USA. The biggest question for you is whether one is better suited for your situation than the other.

String inverters do a great job in most circumstances. They are a tried-and-true technology and have been around for decades. If you have no shade on your roof at any point throughout the year, and if all of your panels can be mounted on the same plane (that is, not facing different angles), a string inverter should work perfectly fine for you. String inverters are also the most affordable of all your inverter options (i.e. string inverter, microinverters or power optimizers).

However, the biggest disadvantages of string inverters are that they do not perform well when one or more solar panels are shaded (a phenomenoon referred to as 'micro-shading') or when the solar panels are facing several different directions (for example, if you have a gabled roof and want to fit as many panels on as you can). (Read more about this here.)

Microinverters, on the other hand, perform well even if the roof is shaded or at multiple angles . So if you've spoken to a solar installer who has told you about potential shading issues on your roof, you should consider microinverters (or even power optimizers like SolarEdge or Tigo). Microinverters are the most expensive inverter option; power optimizers are generally less expensive than microinverters, but still more expensive than a standard string inverter system.

Because they improve the overall power output of your solar system where there is shading or multiple roof orientations, microvinverters & power optimizers are usually worth the investment. However, if you don't have these issues, they are probably not worth the investment. While they do help improve your solar system's overall power yield (they are more efficient than string inverters), this improvement may not be worth the additional cost.

We've recently published a series of articles on microinverters and power optimizers. They are:

String inverters vs Microinverters vs Power optimizers

Microinverters & Power optimizers: Advantages & disadvantages

Microinverter & Power optimizer options

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Asked: 2015-01-16 12:23:57 -0500

Seen: 1,355 times

Last updated: Dec 27 '18