The market for solar microinverters has grown substantially this year, and experts predict that it will quadruple in the next four years. Researchers from ISH, a market research firm, estimate that microinverter sales will reach 500 megawatts in 2013, and global shipments are expected to hit 2.1 gigawatts by 2017. That’s an overwhelming 306% increase.
Much of the expansion is coming from overseas and commercial markets, which have lower penetration rates for microinverters than the residential sector. This is the result of manufacturers such as Enphase seeking out new areas of growth.
“Microinverters have reached very high adoption rates in the United States, particularly in the residential market, where penetration will reach more than 40% in 2013,” Cormac Gilligan, PV market analyst at IHS, said in a press release. “However, in order to grow or maintain market share, microinverter suppliers now are striving to expand to new regions that at present don’t use the technology.”
Inverters are some of the most important components of any home solar system. The inverter takes the direct current (DC) power produced by solar panels and converts it to alternating current (AC) so that it can be consumed by a home’s electrical system.
For many years, the only type of inverter available for a solar electric system was a central inverter (sometimes referred to as a string inverter). It’s a mature, sturdy technology that is still effective for most of the solar arrays that we design today.
However, there are certain situations where a microinverter may be a better option. Most specifically, microinverters are best used when a roof receives intermittent shade throughout the day.
Since a central inverter combines the power from multiple solar panels in one unit, power production can decrease if a few of the solar panels are obstructed by shade. Microinverters are able to overcome this obstacle because a small inverter is attached to each solar panel. Then, if one panel is partially shaded, the rest of the system will still perform to its usual standards.
It is worth mentioning that microinverters are significantly more expensive than central inverters at this point in time. Also, it’s a fairly new technology and some solar experts question its ability to continue performing year after year. Thankfully, the microinverters that we offer come with 25 year warranties that give our customers peace of mind.
IHS estimates that the U.S. accounts for about 72 percent of all microinverter shipments. However, that number could fall to 50 percent in the next four years as more units are sent to overseas solar installations. In particular, the Japanese market has heated up in recent years now that more suppliers are located in that country (Japanese developers tend to prefer domestic manufacturers over imports).
Reinforcing the success of the microinverter industry, Enphase recently reported record-breaking revenue for their third quarter. Although prices for microinverters have been falling as of late due to increased competition, Enphase has experienced considerable growth due to the expanding demand for its high-quality products.
By keeping up with technical innovations in the solar industry (like microinverters), solar installers like AMECO can continue to provide better service to our customers. Those in Southern California who are interested in installing solar panels with microinverters should contact us and request a solar evaluation.