A solar inverter or photovoltaic inverter is an important component of a solar system installation that converts direct current output of a solar panel, into suitable alternating current that can be used safely in the home. The main types of inverters include solar micro-inverters, string inverters and central inverters.
Microinverters, which is also known as module inverters are most commonly used for individual solar power systems to extract the maximum amount of power from each solar system. These inverters are highly reliable and often include up to 10 years warranty, however add a significant cost to the solar power system.
String inverters are commonly used in grid-tied systems where solar panels are wired together in series. These inverters are designed to be wired to a series of 8 to 15 solar panels and are currently the most widely used inverters. As a safety precaution, they are designed to shut down in the event that the utility grid goes down. Central inverters are a type of string inverter that are used in larger scale solar systems. Cost is higher for these inverters however they are easier to install and have higher efficiency.
Inverters can come with different ratings including continuous, half hour and surge. They outline the amount of power that you can expect to use continuously without the inverter overheating, the rating for if an appliance is used occasionally, and finally a high surge to allow the inverter to hold a high rating for a few seconds for an appliance to start.