A micro inverter is a small-sized inverter that handles a single solar panel to which it is attached.
What are Micro Inverters?
In contrast with central inverters or string inverters which are connected to and handle arrays of several solar panels, micro inverters handle one single panel or even two panels (dual micro-inverters).
Similar to central/ string inverters, they convert the direct current (DC) electricity generated from that single (or two) module(s) into alternating current (AC) electricity. Micro inverters are uusally installed at backside of a PV panel.
Comparative advantages of micro inverters
A micro inverter can much more specifically tune the output of each panel or two panels by applying individual maximum power point tracking (MPPT) and in this way optimize the yield of the whole system.
Shading or manufacturing defects of single panel parts or whole panels do in such installation have only minor impacts on the overall system yield. Micro inverters also have lower heat loads than central or string inverters and are therefore less sensitive to overheating problems.
At the same time, they require significantly less wiring and less installation space. Moreover, the usage of a micro inverter allows for quicker and more flexible defect-tracing, additions or replacements of panels within the whole system as there are no rating and size requirements to be met.
Disadvantages of micro inverters
The major disadvantage of micro inverters though has been its considerable higher pricing. Nevertheless, this pricing gap is also increasingly diminishing, making micro inverters more and more a serious alternative even for larger commercial installations.