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Five solar string inverter myths, debunked.


9/30/2021 / United States
As solar inverter technology evolved over the last decade, some beliefs about string inverters have taken foot within the industry, influencing system designs and installations. However, when fact-checking some of the popular views, it turns out that many of them are myths. It is time to take a closer look.
Photo by Emiliano Vittoriosi on Unsplash
Photo by Emiliano Vittoriosi on Unsplash

Myth #1. String inverters can't handle shade
The design flexibility and shade mitigation features of string inverters have changed drastically over the last ten years. Intelligent software algorithms can track global maximum power points dynamically, leading to higher performance of string inverters than other inverter technologies.

Fact: String inverters outperform DC optimizers - even in a system with shade, as found by the University of Southern Denmark in an independent study, read here.

Myth #2. A string inverter system works like Christmas tree lights
It is a widespread belief that string inverter systems operate like Christmas tree lights – one goes out, and all stop working. The idea behind that belief is that a solar system only produces as much electricity as its least productive module in a string. This is false.

Fact: If a module is being affected by shade, the bypass diode of the module activates and bypasses the affected sub-module. All the voltage of the first sub-module is lost, BUT current is maintained. All the other modules in the system are not affected at all.

Myth #3. String inverters don't have good monitoring
Today's inverters are more intelligent and connected and have data communications integrated into the inverter, such as data loggers, interfaces between inverters, and internet connections. This integration reduced complexity and component count as well as costs.

Fact: The inverters are connected to the internet via Wi-Fi, enabling cloud-based monitoring platforms for proactive notifications and online troubleshooting on MPPT-level, providing deep insight into the system.

Myth 4: String inverters are not safe enough
String inverters have integrated arc fault detection that detects and shuts off arcs in a system before the arc can do any harm. This arc fault detection covers the whole DC voltage range in a system, giving installers and system owners peace of mind.

Fact: Integrated arc fault detection and a small number of components and connection points significantly reduces the risks of arcing in the first place.  

Myth 5: String inverters do not last long
Since string inverter systems do not require power electronics to be mounted on every module, there are fewer potential failures.

Fact: String inverters are usually located in more protected areas, such as a garage or on the side of the house, where they are less exposed to weather extremes. And if something does go wrong, manufacturers offer warranties for up to 20 years, and the inverters are easily accessible for repairs if needed.

In conclusion, modern solar string inverters are efficient, safe and cost effective.