Some companies in Queensland are selling the benefits of micro inverters but are they actually better?
Well they certainly benefit the company selling them?
If you have had a quote on a micro-inverter or optimizer system you would certainly know that they are nearly always considerably more expensive.
Quotes like “25% more power” and “super safe” are common phrases. But is it an attempt to ensure you buy a more expensive product?
Maybe it just appears to have more bells and whistles?
I have even seen very poor tactics from sales companies with pictures of houses burning down, simply because they didn’t use Micro inverters.
It’s just not true..
But what is the actual truth? Are they worth the money?
The short answer is sometimes, but for the vast majority of homeowners no.
In very specific circumstances a microinverter system or optimizer system can be required.
They are as follows.
- If you have shading issues on your home.
- Maybe you have to use many different angles on your roof so you need more than two.
- You really like the concept and don’t mind dealing with the reliability issues.
- Perhaps you really like telling friends that your solar system is heaps cooler than theirs?
In these cases then yes, it can definitely be worth purchasing micro inverters or optimizers. As long as you are making an informed decision and do not expect it to live up to the “marketing hype”
At Lumax we also recommend optimized systems such as tigo when needed. But we inform the customers why they need to pay the extra money and we let them know about some of the pitfalls.
Do they really produce 25% more power?
Absolutely not. Always read the “up to” bit on the marketing bunk.
It takes a lot of various circumstances like
- Extreme panel power variation.
- Exceptional circumstances on shading issues.
- Many roof angles.
You would need a combination of all 3 to even come close to this claim.
I once spoke to a high level executive of a large optimizer company and said “mate I read all the marketing stuff but can we be frank? What’s the real number? ”
He replied “1%”
It infuriates me when I hear customers say “I bought the micro-inverter system from XYZ company because it produces 25% more”
When they have a single face roof, quality solar panels and no shading issues.
If your considering purchasing micro inverters for performance reasons then its best you understand what will really happen.
Pay close attention to the “up to” bit that these companies seem to “quickly gloss over”
Why do people say they are unreliable?
Well because they fail at a similar rate to string inverters. Let’s take a case example. If they fail at 1% in the first 5 years.
If you have a string system, this means you have a 1 in 100 chance of your system failing in the first 5 years. Good odds right?
But what if we take the example of a micro-inverter system if it fails at a similar rate. Just 1%.
The standard domestic home in Cairns Queensland now days has 24 panels. The result of this with a micro inverter systems means it has 24 inverters attached.
If it fails 1% of the time ?
Then you have close to a 1 in 4 chance of the system failing in the first 5 years.
Would you pay more for a system that has a 1 in 4 chance in failing?
I know I wouldn’t. My own personal experience with these kinds of systems reflect this kind of result.
Above – an example of a “micro inverter”
Are they safer?
Yes, absolutely if your system has been installed badly. Micro inverters produce AC Energy so is has less of a tendency to ARC. How ever it’s important to consider that the Solar panel itself still produces DC energy. So the effects may be exaggerated by certain unscrupulous sales people.
DC string systems if installed well by good people are incredibly reliable.
They rarely fail, let alone a “set a house on fire” like some micro pushing companies would have you believe your doomed to experience.
Companies touting “pictures of homes burning down” and “your risking your life” are certainly effective sales tactics on uninformed customers.
They try to make out your taking your life into your hands if you do anything other than buy a micro-inverter system.
“pay more so we can make better margin on your fear”
This is the kind of sales tactics I personally find reprehensible.
A well installed quality components system that is correctly installed poses little to no risk of fire or meltdown.
- There is a very specific set of circumstances in which using micro inverters can be of benefit to you.
- If your home is one of them, then you should definitely consider paying the additional cost.
- If your home does not have the issues that we described in this blog? Perhaps consider if its a good idea.