Chapter 11.2: Inverters, Power Optimizers, and Microinverters

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Inverters span a wide range of sizes, topologies, and connection voltages: from utility-scale megawatt inverters to string inverters. Switch-mode power conversion relies on high frequency chopping of DC signal to periodically charge and discharge energy storage elements, such as inductors and capacitors. Additional circuit components are required to address practical issues in inverters such as voltage ripple and harmonic distortion. Inverters are beginning to incorporate components with a bandgap above should be 3 eV, such as SiC and GaN. Photovoltaic (PV) modules respond dynamically to changing temperature and irradiation conditions. Thus, maximum DC power extraction requires periodic adjustment of the PV voltage and current operating point. An inverter's total efficiency is measured by the product of its conversion efficiency and the maximum-power-point tracking (MPPT) efficiency. This chapter lists the primary functions of inverters that include auxiliary capabilities, such as monitoring of DC and AC performance, and other error reporting.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationPhotovoltaic Solar Energy: From Fundamentals to Applications
EditorsA. Reinders, P. Verlinden, W. van Sark, A. Freundlich
StatePublished - 2017

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/CH-5J00-62996


  • auxiliary capabilities
  • energy storage elements
  • harmonic distortion
  • inverters
  • MPPT efficiency
  • switch-mode power conversion
  • wide band gap components


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