String Inverters vs. Microinverters

When deciding to go solar, choosing the right equipment for the job is crucial. The most important piece of solar equipment are the solar panels, which will be producing your power. The next most important piece of equipment are the solar inverters.

Two of the most commonly used types of solar inverters are string inverters and microinverters. The way these types of inverters work can greatly impact how your solar panel system functions.

What are solar inverters? How do they work? What is the difference between string inverters and microinverters?

Let’s break it down for you.


What many homeowners don’t know is that solar panels produce a form of electricity that most homes cannot use. This electricity is direct current (DC) electricity. The form of electricity almost all homes use is alternating current (AC) electricity.

But how does DC electricity produced by solar panels get converted into AC electricity?

This is where solar inverters come into play.

Solar Inverters have the task of turning all the electricity produced by solar panels into usable power. It does this by converting the direct current (DC), which flows in one direction, into alternating current (AC), which flows back and forth very rapidly. 

This AC current is then sent through your electric/fuse/breaker box and can be used by all electrical appliances and fixtures within your home.


There are three types of solar inverters available to homeowners. These types are string (or central) inverters, power optimizers + inverter, and microinverters.

We will concentrate on the two most commonly used types of inverters: string inverters and microinverters

Each different type of solar inverter has its advantages and disadvantages. It’s important to understand these differences, as well as the pros and cons of each solar inverter type, before choosing which is right for your solar panel system.


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String inverters, also known as central inverters, are the oldest and most common type of solar inverter used today. They work by connecting a string of solar panels to one single inverter, which converts the total DC input into AC output.

Pros: Because string inverters are the oldest type of solar inverters, they are also the most reliable. After decades of being on the market, string inverters have had most of the kinks worked out. They are also the least expensive solar inverter option.

String inverters are also centrally located on the side of your house or near the side of a ground-mount. This allows easier access to monitor, repair, or replace the inverter.

Cons: While string inverters are reliable, they are also less efficient at optimizing solar energy output. Because string inverters are connected to an entire string of solar panels, shading on one solar panel will cut the power output of the entire string.

Also, string inverters only offer total-system monitoring as opposed to panel-level monitoring. This can be a disadvantage when diagnosing issues with solar production, and it can also be unfortunate for those solar homeowners who want a more granular level of monitoring.


The final type of solar inverter is the microinverter. Microinverters are the latest in solar inverter technology, and they work by converting DC to AC directly from the back of each solar panel. No string inverter is needed because each microinverter takes care of DC conversion on the spot.

Pros: Because each microinverter is handling the conversion from DC to AC on each panel, that allows the system to be minimally impacted by shading on individual panels. If shade covers one panel, only that panel will produce less power output as opposed to the whole system output decreasing, as in a string inverter setup.

Microinverters are also easy to expand with your solar system in the future. Any solar panel that is added to the system just needs to have a microinverter installed on the back of the panel.

Similar to power optimizers, microinverters also allow for panel-level monitoring of the solar system, allowing any solar output issues to be diagnosed more easily and accurately.

Cons: Microinverters are the most expensive of the solar inverter options. However, their benefits can easily outweigh the costs in certain situations, especially if shading is an issue.

And because microinverters are installed on the back of each solar panel, it is more difficult to repair or replace any microinverter that might have issues.


Depending on your situation, one type of solar inverter might be better for you than another. If you are looking for a wallet-friendly solar inverter, a string inverter might be a good option. However, if you have the potential for shading on your solar panels, microinverters might be a better option.

To learn more about power optimizers, see our previous blog breaking down the different types of solar inverters.

Contact Green Ridge Solar today to find out which solar inverter is right for you. Our solar experts can explain all the pros and cons, as well as provide a free solar analysis.


Request a FREE solar analysis for your home. We’ll evaluate your roof, sun exposure, electricity usage, tax incentives, and more to help you decide if solar is right for you!