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Inverters

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Inverters

The inverter converts the DC current generated by the modules into AC current to make it compatible with your electricity supply.

All the power generated from your modules therefore passes through the inverter. This is the most important component of all, It is essential therefore that you choose an inverter that is reliable, and has a bona-fide guarantee (it’s easy to offer a warranty – is it insurance backed, or backed by a manufacturing company with a long trading history?) – this is even more important than your choice of modules.

 

There are two types of inverters : String or Micro.

 

String Inverters

inverter
Generally we recommend European manufactured string inverters such as Fronius, Power-One or SMA. However in recent months we have started looking at/and have installed some Chinese manufactured string inverters.

 

This is a box @ 70cm x 450cm x 25cm that is mounted inside your building (can be put in attic space)

 

Advantage of Using String Inverter.

  1. Initial cost is cheaper and will still have a good output.

 

Disadvantage of Using String Inverter

  1. Should one panel in a “string” (there are normally 1 – 2 strings in a 4Kw System) is subjected to severe shading then all the modules on that string stop operating (but any other strings will operate as normal)
  2. Should one panel in a string breakdown then the whole string will fail to operate – by using good quality panels the chances of this happening are remote.
  3. We supply string inverters that have a ten year warranty (normally they have a 5 year warranty) and based on historical findings, they should last at least this length of time, but there is a high probability that you will have to replace the inverter at some stage throughout the life of the systemat a price of @ £ 700.00 – however in 10 years time you may find that this may be cheaper.*

*For an extra £ 275.00 added to the prices above, we can provide Foronius inverters for a 3 kW system, with a 20 year manufacturer backed warranty.

 

  1. High voltage D.C. current is coming into your house.
  2. A typical string inverter required @ 275V flowing through it before it operates.
  3. It provides no information on the performance of each individual solar panel, and therefore claiming on a panel’s performance warranty may prove difficult.
  4. In the event of a breakdown of a sting inverter system, it is difficult to detect exactly where the fault lies, and until the fault is diagnosed and repaired, the entire system is producing no electricity.

www.sma-uk.com/,  www.fronius.com www.abb.com/ups-system

 

Enphase Micro-Inverters

inverter2
These inverters are the latest solar technology to come from America, and now out sell string inverters in the American domestic solar PV market.

When these originally hit the U.K. market they were sold to the end user as a an inverter that allowed panels to generate electricity on a an East/West split, and allowed you to install solar pv on many roofs that were deemed unsuitable for a string inverter due to shading issues.

We have been installing these for over two years now, and can confirm that they do generate more electricity per annum than a string inverter even on un-shaded south facing roofs.

As the name suggests, these are small inverters. One micro-inverter is mounted under each panel on the roof (cannot be seen)

 

Advantage of Micro-Inverters

  1. Unlike string inverters, a micro-inverter only relies on the panel to which it is connected, and therefore starts putting AC electricity into your premises the second that module starts producing –unlike a string inverter which will only start when a number of panels are producing. Therefore a system using micro-inverters will produce more power during very low light conditions and overall give your system a better yield and efficiency.
  2. If any pane fails to operate for any reason, the rest of the panels will continue to function as normal – therefore it is highly unlikely that you will ever have complete downtime on the whole system. This will obviously lead to better production over a 20 year period.
  3. All your panels can be monitored from your computer via the Internet, and therefore, this extremely easy to use system, allows you to monitor their performance anytime, from anywhere in the world. The information not only includes up to date information about each individual module, but also includes an historic record from the day of installation. – If you would like to view some of our systems that are monitored we can log you in to them, to show you how they are performing in various locations throughout the country.
  4. Your system is also monitored by Enphase, which allows them to diagnose remotely, any faults that you may have.
  5. If a panel does fail it is readily identifiable via the monitoring system, and therefore diagnosing any failures is extremely easy and maintenance of the system is far easier and cheaper.
  6. Individual monitoring allows you to claim on your module performance warranty if required
  7. Micro-inverters start generating ac electricity when receiving 16 volts from a module whereas a string inverter requires @ 275 volts before it starts to generate.
  8. Micro-inverters respond very quickly to any variation in level of irradiance and therefore produce optimum generate very quickly after, for example, heavy clouds pass over the system.
  9. A system using micro-inverters can be switched off completely within your house and no electricity will flow at all.
  10. Micro-inverters are guaranteed for 20 years and have a second to none back-up service.

 

Disadvantages of Micro Inverters

  1. Micro-inverters are more expensive than standard inverters and therefore the initial pay-back time of your system will take longer – however over the entire lifetime of the system, the pay-back, due to slightly better efficiency, and no need for replacement costs, will be similar to the pay-back of a normal inverter and probably marginally better. At present we recommend the Enphase System, as they not only perform well, but have an excellent after sales technical service.

 https://enphase.com/uk/

 

SolarEdge System

This system is referred to by some, as a micro-inverter system – but it is not.

This system is however an improvement on the traditional string inverter system and consists of a SolarEdge string inverter and Solaredge Power Optimizers (which make the crucial difference.)

An optimizer is placed behind each solar panel. These optimizers are then all linked together and then connected to a Solaredge string inverter.

Advantage of SolarEdge System

1. The SolarEdge Optimizer not only optimises each individual panel, but also acts as a bypass diodes in the event of a panel failure. Therefore, unlike traditional string inverters, If any panel fails to operate for any reason, the rest of the panels will continue to function as normal. 

2. All your panels can be monitored from your computer via the Internet, and therefore, this extremely easy to use system, allows you to monitor their performance anytime, from anywhere in the world. The information not only includes up to date information about each individual module, but also includes an historic record from the day of installation.

3. If a panel does fail it is readily identifiable via the monitoring system, and therefore diagnosing any failures is extremely easy and maintenance of the system is far easier and cheaper.

4. Individual monitoring allows you to more easily claim on your module performance warranty if required as you are aware of how each panel is performing and has performed in the past.

5. SolarEdge Optimizers are guaranteed for 25 years.

6. The SolarEdge string inverter has a 12 year warranty that can, at a cost, be increased to 25 years.

7. Any make of module can be substituted into a SolarEdge system at a later date without it having any adverse effect on the system – so, for example, if technology has advanced greatly in 10 years’ time and you wish to substitute panels within your array,  then this can be easily done

Disadvantage of SolarEdge System

  1. Despite each panel being optimised, all the combined generated electricity is still going to the one string inverter – single point of failure.
  2. The string inverter still requires @ 300 volts DC to allow it to operate.
  3. You have high voltage DC entering your premises.
  4. Despite the warranty, whether you pay for it or not – you will have to replace the string inverter atleast once in the 25 year period which will result in a generation lose during the period of failure to replacement.
  5. String inverters do not like variations in the voltage from the grid supply ( we experienced this in a rural location near Alyth where the grid supply was 260 volts which resulted in a complete system failure.)

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