What is a PV Inverter?

Table of Contents
A photovoltaic inverter is an electronic device that connects solar panels to the power grid.

Solar panels are well-known, but the importance of PV inverters in photovoltaic installations is often overlooked. A PV inverter is a vital electronic device that converts solar energy into usable electricity, enabling its consumption by household appliances or feeding it back into the electrical grid. It maximizes the efficiency of solar energy generation and guarantees the seamless functioning of the solar installation.

Having a deep understanding of PV inverters is essential when choosing the most appropriate one for your requirements. This article offers a comprehensive overview of PV inverters, exploring their advantages and disadvantages. Furthermore, the article emphasizes essential considerations to keep in mind when acquiring an inverter. By gaining in-depth knowledge about PV inverters, you’ll be empowered to make well-informed decisions in the PV inverter market.

What is A PV Inverter?

A photovoltaic inverter is an electronic device that connects solar panels to the power grid. Its primary duty is to transform the solar panels’ produced direct current (DC) electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity that may be utilized by the power grid via a power module.

How Does PV Inverter Work?

The direct current generated by the photovoltaic modules first goes through a DC filtering circuit to remove current fluctuations and electromagnetic interference, then enters the inverter circuit. The inverter circuit transforms DC into AC. This alternating current is then rectified into a sine wave alternating current. The filtering circuit at the output end filters out high-frequency interference signals produced during the inversion process. This allows the current to be connected to the grid or directly supplied to the load.

Key Components of PV Inverters

DC-AC Conversion Stage: This stage includes power electronic circuits such as transistors or thyristors that convert the DC power from the solar panels into AC power. It consists of various components like switches, capacitors, and inductors that facilitate the conversion process.

Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT): MPPT plays a vital role in maximizing the power generation of solar panels by optimizing their output. It constantly adjusts the operating point of the PV array to ensure it operates at its maximum power output, considering factors such as temperature and shading.

Control and Protection Circuitry: PV inverters incorporate control and protection circuitry to ensure safe and efficient operation. This includes monitoring the input and output voltage and current, temperature monitoring, and protection against overvoltage, overcurrent, and other faults.

Cooling System: Due to the heat generated during operation, PV inverters typically have cooling systems to dissipate heat and prevent overheating. This can include fans, heat sinks, or liquid cooling mechanisms.

Grid Connection Interface: PV inverters are designed to interface with the electrical grid. They include components such as transformers, circuit breakers, and filters to ensure proper synchronization with the grid and compliance with grid standards and regulations.

Communication and Monitoring: Many PV inverters feature communication interfaces (such as Ethernet, Wi-Fi, or RS485) and monitoring capabilities. These allow users to monitor the performance of the solar power inverter system, track energy production, and diagnose any potential issues remotely.

Enclosure and Housing: PV inverters are placed inside protective enclosures to safeguard the internal elements against environmental elements like dust, moisture, and extreme temperatures. The enclosure also provides electrical safety by isolating the high-voltage components.

Key components of PV Inverters.

A Comparison Table of the 4 Types of PV Inverters

Here is the table about types of PV inverters:

ConfigurationCentralized monitoring of the entire systemMultiple inverters connected in seriesIndividual inverter per panelIndividual optimizer per panel
CapacityHighMedium to highLow to mediumLow to medium
EfficiencyHighMedium to highMedium to highHigh
CostLow to mediumLow to mediumMedium to highHigh
MonitoringCentralized monitoring of the entire systemMonitoring of strings of panelsMonitoring of individual panelsMonitoring of individual panels and optimization of each
Shade ToleranceLowMediumHighHigh
MaintenanceRequires less maintenanceRequires moderate maintenanceRequires more maintenanceRequires more maintenance
FlexibilityLess flexible for changes in system configurationsMore flexible for changes in system configurationsMore flexible for changes in system configurationsHighly flexible for changes in system configurations

Centralized VS String VS Micro VS Power Optimizers: Comparison of the 4 Types of PV Inverters

Centralized inverters are well-suited for large power generation systems that feature centralized power stations. In contrast, string inverters are better suited for photovoltaic power generation systems of medium to small sizes. Centralized inverters have fewer components and lower costs, while string inverters offer simpler maintenance solutions and greater flexibility in system design.

However, it’s important to note that string inverters have more electronic components, signal circuits, and higher failure rates as the system scales up. String inverters, in comparison to centralized inverters, come with a higher initial cost. As a result, the selection between centralized and string inverters hinges on the specific needs of the solar power system.

Micro-inverters provide a solution to malfunctions that can occur in traditional PV systems. They offer advantages such as easy installation, intelligent management, high-generation performance, and quick fault resolution. However, micro-inverters tend to have higher unit costs and maintenance expenses.

Power optimizers are power electronic devices applied at the component level in new or existing PV power plants. They have a predicted lifespan of 25 years. Power optimizers offer several benefits, including the ability to recover generation losses and swiftly shut down the system during emergencies. They also enable component-level monitoring and help prevent power output reductions due to panel parameter mismatches and dirt accumulation. Each optimizer can be individually connected to one or two solar panels, allowing for monitoring of power generation and temperature at the panel level. This facilitates remote monitoring, improves system operation efficiency, and enables quick fault diagnosis.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a PV Inverter

In the above comparison of the four types of inverters, we have identified their respective advantages and disadvantages. Now, let’s summarize the key factors that we need to consider when choosing an inverter: 

System Size

Consider the size of your solar power system. Centralized inverters are suitable for large-scale installations, while string inverters are better suited for medium to small systems. Micro-inverters and power optimizers can be used in various system sizes. 

Efficiency Rating

Assess the efficiency ratings of different inverter types. Higher efficiency means less energy loss during the conversion process, resulting in greater overall system performance and increased electricity generation.

Maintenance Requirements

Evaluate the maintenance needs of different inverter types. Centralized inverters generally have simpler maintenance solutions, while micro-inverters may require more attention due to their distributed nature. 

Wireless and Wired communication

Wireless communication offers flexibility in installation and monitoring, eliminating the need for extensive wiring. However, it may be subject to interference and signal disruptions. On the other hand, wired communication, such as Ethernet or RS485, provides reliable and stable data transfer, especially in larger installations. 

Monitoring and Control

Determine the level of monitoring and control you desire for your solar power system. Micro-inverters and power optimizers provide component-level monitoring, while centralized and string inverters may offer system-level monitoring.


Consider the initial cost and long-term expenses associated with each inverter type. Centralized inverters often have lower upfront costs, while micro-inverters and power optimizers tend to be more expensive.

    Where Needs PV Inverter?

    As solar energy becomes increasingly popular as a viable alternative to conventional energy sources, PV inverters play a crucial role in harnessing the power of sunlight and converting it into usable electrical energy. These versatile devices find application across various sectors, ranging from powering small household appliances to supplementing the energy needs of large-scale industrial facilities. Let’s explore six of the most popular applications of PV inverters:

    Residential Solar Systems: PV inverters are employed in residential solar panel setups to transform the DC electricity produced by the solar panels into AC electricity that can be utilized for household purposes.

    Commercial Solar Systems: PV inverters find extensive usage in commercial and industrial solar setups. These systems generate large amounts of electricity that can be used to power offices, factories, warehouses, and other commercial establishments.

    Utility-Scale Solar Power Plants: PV inverters are utilized in large-scale solar power plants, where vast arrays of solar panels are deployed to generate electricity on a significant level. These inverters have a crucial function in converting the direct current (DC) power generated by the panels into alternating current (AC) power that can be smoothly incorporated into the electrical grid.

    Off-Grid Systems: In remote areas or locations without access to the electrical grid, PV inverters are used in off-grid solar systems. These systems combine solar panels, batteries, and inverters to generate and store electricity, providing a reliable power source for off-grid homes, cabins, or telecommunications equipment.

    Hybrid Systems: PV inverters are also integral components of hybrid renewable energy systems. These systems combine solar panels with other energy sources like wind turbines or batteries to create a more reliable and consistent power supply.

    Microinverters: Microinverters are a specific kind of PV inverter that is positioned on every individual solar panel for operation. They convert the DC electricity directly at the panel level, offering benefits such as enhanced system performance, monitoring capabilities, and shading tolerance.

    Let's explore six of the most popular applications of PV inverters.

    Why are Inverters So Important?

    The dependability and safety of inverters are tied to the smooth operation of the complete solar power generating system. As evidenced by the following characteristics:

    Its conversion efficiency directly affects the photovoltaic power generation system’s power generation efficiency. Its service life directly affects the photovoltaic power generation system’s service life. Both conversion efficiency and service life will further affect the photovoltaic power station project’s internal rate of return (IRR).

    PV inverters are the “heart” of the solar PV power generating system. These components are indispensable throughout the entire process of generating photovoltaic power and connecting it to the grid.

    Advantages of PV Inverters

    Optimizing Efficiency with MPPT

    A crucial factor in the design of solar power plants is the MPPT voltage. The MPPT controller’s full name is “Maximum Power Point Tracking.” It is an upgraded product of traditional solar charge and discharge controllers.

    The MPPT controller enables the system to charge batteries at maximum power output. MPPT functions by continuously monitoring and adjusting the voltage-current (VI) characteristics of the solar panel to identify and track the maximum power output. It dynamically detects and responds to the real-time voltage produced by the solar panel. It functions as the brain of solar photovoltaic systems, coordinating the actions of solar panels, batteries, and loads. The electrical system is known as the MPPT system. I can more efficiently store the direct current produced by solar panels in batteries by adjusting the functioning state of the electrical modules, enabling the provision of electricity for living and industrial use in remote and tourist areas not serviced by traditional power grids while minimizing environmental pollution.

    Support in the Energy Transformation Process of PV Inverter

    PV inverters have important opportunities for grid connectivity and net metering, besides their basic function of converting DC power to AC power. PV inverters enable the safe injection and connection of photovoltaic power, allowing excess power to be injected into the grid in distributed photovoltaic power stations, thus providing energy to the grid.

    In households or businesses, PV inverters automatically adjust output and electricity connection by monitoring overall production and consumption of electricity, which leads to achieving net metering. These opportunities for grid connectivity and net metering are valuable technical support in the energy transformation process.

    Increased System Reliability of A PV Inverter

    To ensure reliability and safety, PV inverters should have various measures, such as a voltage defense shutdown function, lightning and overvoltage protection, temperature protection, fault diagnosis, and a standby system. These measures not only help to prevent equipment damage and grid overload but also ensure safe operation, long life, and improved efficiency and production benefits for solar power generation systems.

    Energy Storage Integration and Smart Grid Integration

    Combining PV inverters with other technologies can significantly enhance the efficiency, reliability, and safety of solar power generation systems. Integrating energy storage, such as lithium-ion battery packs, with PV inverters enables stable storage and release of excess electrical energy for future use. Smart grids can maximize the use of solar panels by automatically detecting and regulating grid voltage and frequency, providing a more stable and reliable energy supply. Comprehensive optimization of PV inverters, energy storage, and smart grids can effectively adapt to various needs and changes in demand, and improve energy utilization. The integration of these technologies can play an important role in achieving global energy conservation, emissions reduction, and renewable energy transformation goals.

    Installation and Maintenance Considerations on PV Inverter

    Proper Installation Guidelines

    When installing PV inverters, it is important to follow proper installation guidelines to ensure optimal performance and longevity. This includes selecting a dry, well-ventilated, and mechanically protected area as the installation position while avoiding direct sunlight exposure. It is also crucial to wire cables and harnesses accurately as per the PV inverter manufacturers’ instructions while paying attention to cable labeling. Grounding the inverter is essential, and reliable ground connections must be established using sufficiently-sized wires and a low ground resistance of less than 4 ohms. Appropriate protective equipment and adherence to personal safety measures are crucial during installation and maintenance.

    Routine Maintenance Practice

    Developing a regular maintenance schedule for the inverter according to the manufacturer’s recommendations is essential. This includes cleaning the inside and outside of the inverter, monitoring its functions, and recording data for timely troubleshooting and diagnosis of faults. Proper cleaning is especially important to ensure good performance and lifespan of the inverter in high-dust areas. The inverter must operate within an appropriate temperature range, and measures should be taken to reduce the temperature if it gets too high.

    Monitoring System Performance

    Installing a monitoring system on the inverter provides real-time monitoring and analysis of its performance, detects faults, and helps to address problems promptly. The monitoring system requires regular maintenance to ensure optimal operation, including cleaning, data recording, inspection, and reporting. In case of a malfunction, it is important to analyze the problem through data recording and monitoring, understand its nature and scope, and take swift action to solve it.

    To achieve optimal system performance and longevity, it is crucial to ensure the correct installation and regular maintenance of PV inverters.

    The Prospect of the PV Inverter Industry

    Solar PV Inverters Market size was valued at USD 8.78 Billion in 2021 and is projected to reach USD 14.8 Billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 6.1% from 2023 to 2030.

    Solar PV Inverters Market size was valued at USD 8.78 Billion in 2021 and is projected to reach USD 14.8 Billion by 2030, growing at a CAGR of 6.1% from 2023 to 2030.

    Due to the substantial decrease in panel costs over the last decade and the record-high adoption rates, there is a projected increase in demand for solar PV inverters in the foreseeable future. There are various factors that contribute to the growth of this market. These include the demand for rural electrification, rising government support, increased investments in renewable energy, and more. China is anticipated to emerge as a highly competitive regional market in the solar industry, encompassing various equipment like solar inverters. Chinese inverter companies hold significant stakes in the private market, with a substantial portion of their shipments directed toward the utility-scale sector within the country. Furthermore, Solar PV inverters are constrained to numerous safety certifications, manufacturing, and grid interconnection certifications. Administrative compliance shows in all equipment sections of the solar PV industry, particularly the U.S. PV industry.

    Financial Considerations and Return on Investment (ROI)

    Cost Analysis and the Payback Period (ROI)

    The price of the inverter itself is one of the main cost factors, and the price of the inverter mainly depends on its capacity and functions. Inverters that are reliable and cost-effective can reduce costs.

    Installation costs are also an important factor to consider, including the actual installation cost of the inverter, wiring cost, cable cost, project management cost, safety equipment cost, and so on.

    The payback period refers to the duration required to recover the total expenses associated with setting up a solar power plant. The payback period can be determined by calculating the project’s cash flow.

    The investment return rate refers to the annualized return on investment of a solar power plant. It can be calculated using the net present value method, and all cash flows and related costs should be considered.

    Available Incentives, Tax Credits, and Financing Options for A PV Inverter

    Incentives available for solar inverters include government subsidies, tax breaks, and energy certificates, greatly reducing the related costs of solar power plants.

    Tax breaks refer to tax incentives provided by some countries for solar power plants. Investors can receive various forms of tax breaks, such as depreciation benefits or tax refunds.

    Financing options include borrowing, leasing, and other financing methods. Investors can choose financing methods that suit them to reduce the upfront costs of solar power plants and accelerate investment return rates.

    A reasonable investment plan can maximize the investment return rate of the solar power plant and ensure the successful implementation of the solar power plant project.

    Choose Your Proper PV Inverters

    Different PV inverter types have different characteristics such as power range, maximum input voltage, and conversion efficiency. Selecting the incorrect type of inverter might result in a system performance decrease or even failure. Once the inverter used in your system is underpowered, the solar panels may not be able to operate at their maximum potential. On the other hand, if the inverter is very powerful, it may result in significant losses.

    Overall, selecting the right Photovoltaic Inverter is vital to ensure the efficiency and stability of the system’s power generation. Therefore, we recommend you conduct thorough research and consult professionals. We can provide the best recommendations based on your specific requirements, to ensure the most efficient and reliable system operation. MokoEnergy provides professional and customized solutions for you. Please contact us if you need a solar inverter or solar solutions.


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