The Difference Between Microinverters and Power Optimizers

Article provided courtesy of GoSolarQuotes -

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Microinverters and power optimizers essentially do the same thing as they allow your solar panel array to continue working partially shaded.

Microinverters send AC electricity directly from your roof to power your home, where power optimizers only break up your panels into autonomous units but still need the current to run through a central inverter before it can be used by your home. You will still need an inverter with power optimizers, while microinverters negate the need for a central inverter.

Power optimizers are a cheaper way to deal with partial shading as adding a microinverter to the back of every panel on your roof can be expensive.

Microinverters vs power optimizers cost:
 MicroinverterPower optimizer
Cost per Watt $1.16 $1.03
Cost per KiloWatt $1,160 $1,030
6kW system $5,900 $5,120
10kw system $10,600 $9,300

What is a microinverter?

A solar microinverter is a device that converts direct current (DC) electricity from a single solar photovoltaic module (solar panel) into alternating current (AC), which can provide power to your home and appliances.

Solar microinverters are usually attached near the point of power generation, in most bases under each solar panel.

What is a power optimizer?

A power optimizer does a similar job as a microinverter in that it makes each panel its own separate power generating system capable of generating electricity independent of the rest of the panels, but it does not convert power from DC to AC. Power still needs to be sent to the central inverter for conversion.

Benefits of microinverters

Other than breaking the solar panels up into individual modules, they also have other benefits.


Microinverters are safer than string inverters or power optimizers as they are sending 240v AC to your home from the roof. Other systems are sending up to 600v of DC which first needs to be converted to AC for home use.


Even if you don’t have constant partial shading, you will have times where leaves might blow onto your system or a bird might drop a torpedo onto your panels knocking them offline. It could take you a day or two to notice costing you time and money. In the long run, they are more efficient by helping put out a larger average power output.

Disadvantages of microinverters

Initial Cost

The upfront cost of microinverters is off-putting, but the long-term gains are worth the extra outlay in my view.

Benefits of Power optimizers


Doing the same job as microinverters, but at a much cheaper price is a pretty large benefit. If you are leaning towards micro inverters over a string setup, but the initial outlay is putting you off, power optimizers might be a good second choice.

Disadvantages of Power optimizers


Although it’s not a huge deal, microinverters are technically safer as they are sending AC directly from the roof. This should never be an issue, but worth pointing out.

How do I know I need a microinverter?

You are best consulting with your solar panel installers about when is best for your situation, but, if you have a fixed structure or trees nearby that will shade your solar panels, even just partially, you will need a microinverter system or power optimizers. To get in touch with installers, visit GoSolarQuotes and compare quotes from local top-rated local solar specialists.

Can I add them later if I need them?

Technically yes, but it is going to cost you a lot more. If you don’t go with microinverters from the outset, your installer will hook up a central inverter. This is a large initial outlay and makes up a decent chunk of the total cost of your solar system. If you don’t go for them right off the bat, you can opt to add power optimizers later on.

What are the best brand microinverters?

Most solar panel manufacturers build panels with microinverters attached to the back of the panels, so there is no need to look for after-market brands. You would get them at the point of sale with your system when it is installed.

That being said, some of the more popular ones are Enphase, APS and SMA micro inverters.

Are microinverters with the extra money?

They certainly are if you have a roof that is partially shaded. That includes less obvious shading like antennas that cast a shadow. Without a microinverter or power optimizer, you will be waiting years more than you need to pay for the system and will never slash your power bills by a meaningful amount.

Article provided courtesy of GoSolarQuotes -