Solar Panels are lauded for being a green energy solution, aiding both the UK in clean living and climate change globally, citing their ability to pull in natural energy from the sun to power homes. But did you know it wasn’t the solar panels themselves, but rather the attached solar inverter responsible for the conversion from DC (direct current), to the AC (alternating current) energy that the vast majority of electrical appliances operate on?
But how much do these Solar Inverters cost? Unfortunately, there is no singular answer as solar inverters differ in type, system size and installation requirements. ESE Solar, the UK’s leading Solar specialists, have put together this article to help those interested in this product.
Average Solar Inverter Cost
This section will revolve around the averages that Solar Inverters may cost.
|Type of Inverter
|£500 to £1,000
|Cost-effective; common in residential solar systems.
|£100 to £500 per unit
|Ideal for systems with panels facing different directions or with shading issues.
|Variable (Brand dependent)
|Being non-standard and specialised, Hybrid Inverters are mostly sold by big brands.
Currently, string inverters are more common than microinverters, but the latter is beginning to pick up.
Types of Solar Inverters
As you can see above, Solar Inverters have different types. In this section, we will quickly run down the differences between each, so you can understand which one is most worth your money.
- String Inverters – These are the most common inverters by far. They connect a series of solar panels via a long string and syphon the DC energy into it. The DC energy is raw solar power, unusable by households until it’s pulled into an inverter and changed to AC, which is the type of energy that most electronics use. String Inverters are very cost-effective, especially when used on larger system installations. However, if one panel underperforms due to shading, damage or another type of obstruction – you can expect the rest to similarly underperform.
- Microinverters – Microinverters are installed on the solar panel, rather than being an external device. This way, the microinverter immediately converts DC energy as it’s pulled into the Solar Panel. Unlike the string inverter, the entire system doesn’t suffer if one solar panel begins to flag. In terms of efficiency, this is the way to go, and the market reflects this – as they are becoming more and more common. That being said, if you plan on a large installation using microinverters, the bill can run high.
- Hybrid Inverters – Hybrid inverters differ heavily from the previous two inverters. The hybrid doesn’t refer to string and micro being blended, but rather inverters and batteries. Basically, like any other inverter, they convert DC to AC, but then they store the energy. This essentially eliminates the need for a battery, making them comprehensive and useful for living off-the-grid, or in areas with power issues. That being said, these have a higher upfront cost, as they are not standard and are considered premium attachments.
What influences Solar Inverter costs?
Unlike many items you can find in a store, solar inverters have a huge range in pricing. The reason for that consists of a few factors, which we will go into below:
- System Size – The size of the solar system makes a direct impact on how much the inverter you need will cost. Regardless of whether it’s a string, micro or hybrid inverters – each has its capacity they can deal with. Many can handle simple 4kW systems quite easily, but when it begins to rise closer to ten, that’s when efficiency falls off.
- Efficiency – Inverters often boast a 95% conversion rate at the lowest, with anything else being considered sub-par. But some inverters go up to 98%, using advanced technology and, therefore, incurring a higher price. Whilst 3% might not seem like a lot in the short term, the long term tells a different story.
- Power Optimisers – These are not inverters, but directly impact their performance. Power optimisers are to be attached to a solar panel(s), and this optimises the output of each panel. It does this by automatically tweaking the voltage and current to maximise the power generation. The issue with this is, of course, that you must add one to each panel.
- Grid-Tied Inverters – Grid-tied inverters are designed to interact with the original electricity grid. This allows for several things, but the most convenient is the ability to feed your electricity to the grid itself. This lowers your energy costs, but if you manage to generate more than you use, you can earn yourself credits. This is convenient because you don’t have to manage battery charging or complex power controls.
- Off-Grid Inverters – Off-grid inverters are standalone. Their power has to be managed by you, and cannot be funnelled into the grid unless through extraneous means. If you want to store the energy made, you’ll need to get a battery or a hybrid inverter. With these, you have to manage your own battery bank.
The cost of installation is a cost that you cannot avoid, unless you want to DIY your solar panel installation, which, in our opinion, shouldn’t be done by any but professionals. The following is the breakdown of the installation costs for inverters.
The pre-installation phase is an assessment of your home and available land. Here, the goal is to find the perfect location for your solar panel inverter to be fitted. This location must have three things to guarantee high efficiency and minimal interferences:
- Proximity – Your solar panel inverter is part and parcel of the entire solar panel PV system. It needs to be close to the power being generated so that it can convert more efficiently. This is because of the cables – less distance equals less travel time and less chance of losing power.
- Exposure – Inverters are electrical and expensive devices. As such, you do not want them to be exposed to the elements or anything else that can harm them.
- Ease of Access – Finally, the location that is chosen should be easy to access. This is due to any necessary maintenance work or adjustments.
The most common locations where inverters are placed are garages, basements and utility rooms. Outside is possible, but a lot harder. You need an enclosure that is weatherproof for it to be used safely and efficiently.
Finally comes the electrical infrastructure assessment.
- Compatibility – Existing electrical wiring and infrastructure will be inspected and assessed for compatibility with your solar panel system. This includes checking the capacity of existing circuits, conditioning of the wiring and suitability of the panel.
- Safety Standards – We make sure that the installation will comply with safety standards and local electrical codes, preventing any potential electrical mishaps.
- Load Analysis – The electrical load of the property will be conducted to determine the capacity and size of the inverter, ensuring that there will be no power output issues.
Someone has to install the Solar Panel, and we highly recommend that you hire a professional to do so. However, where and how you hire them will factor into the overall cost of the installation.
- Locale – Urban areas have high costs of living. The overhead costs of the business within the region include high rent, wages and operating expenses – so you should expect that you’ll be paying higher than in a rural area, which has a low cost of living.
- Region – Depending on where you are, and how common Solar Panels are, you can expect rates to change. In England, the south is typically more expensive than the north, and Wales, Scotland and Ireland all have their own economies.
Are the Solar Inverter Costs worth it?
So, you’ve heard all the costs involved across the different inverters. You will require at least a string inverter if you want to properly draw and convert power from your solar panels and will purchase one with your first solar panel.
But most faults with your Solar Panels occur not with the panels themselves, but rather with the inverter they come with. Either if the inverter finds a fault, or if it reaches the end of its lifespan (around 5-10 years).
This means your inverter will die far before your Solar Panels, which can last beyond thirty years if well-maintained. Regardless of whether or not you upgrade to a different type of inverter, or simply don’t know if you want to replace your lowered energy production due to an inverter’s wear and tear, below are reasons why we believe you should.
- Reduced Electricity Bill – By generating your energy, you are no longer paying for the grid’s sole access. Whether this completely replaces grid energy or cuts your electricity bill in half, both your panels and inverter will save you what you spent, essentially becoming free purchases in the long term. These savings only increase massively if you have a hybrid inverter capable of storing and later using/selling what you’ve created.
- Increase in Property Value – Solar Panels have been proven to increase the property value of the home that you’re installing them on, the newer the better. This goes to show you how in-demand solar panels are. Research indicates a whopping 4-14% increase in property value on average, with one report of a large solar panel installation earning an increase of 38%. So, not only will you make back what you’ve already saved, but your money will go right into your home’s worth as a high-quality utility.
- Green Living – The Paris Agreement of 2015 saw 194 countries come together to discuss and then sign an accord to move away from the use of fossil fuels, which are being trapped in the atmosphere and warming the Earth. Not only is this bad for the many animals on Earth, but the melting of the ice caps will result in water levels rising to the point that they will take over land. Britain has actually been instrumental in reaching their targets by pushing both insulation and solar panels. Not only will you be going green and living in positive karma, but you will also be doing your country proud.
Solar Panels are magnificent inventions that give power to people by making them that much more independent. Solar inverters are an integral part of the system, and need to be considered carefully given that their lifespan is usually less than that of the solar panels themselves. That’s why understanding the cost of them is so important, so you understand how much you could potentially owe when it’s time for your inverter to be replaced.
Solar Inverter Cost – FAQs
Are the costs of updating your Inverter worth it?
A solar inverter’s firmware/software upgrade is important, and something you should pursue. After all, upgrading rewards you with improved efficiency, a higher level of reliability, expanded safety features as well as further compatibility updates. So, when an upgrade is available, you should always take it.
Lucky, then, that updates cost no money at all. Simply log into your manufacturer’s website and input your details, and if an update is available, it will be given to you for free. Simply download it and it should sort itself out.
If you don’t have access to the internet, you’re in for a little bit of hassle. Not all inverters are the same, but typically, local updates require going online, downloading to a USB drive, and then inputting that USB drive into the inverter.
Is it more cost-effective to replace or repair an inverter?
There are several things you should take into consideration when thinking of replacing an inverter:
- Age – String inverters last between 10 to 15 years, and microinverters around 15 to 25 years. If your inverter is approaching the end of its life, a repair can only do so much. Many of the inner components are worn and torn by this point, and only a complete replacement can safeguard your inverter for another lifespan.
- Nature – Some issues may be easily fixable. If your efficiency is still high but you still believe it to be damaged, calling the help desk may be a good idea.
- Warranty – With ESE Solar, you gain a long-term warranty that covers you for the vast majority of its lifespan.