Quantifying the Impact of Inverter Clipping on Photovoltaic Performance and Soiling Losses: Article No. 120317

Leonardo Micheli, Matthew Muller, Marios Theristis, Greg P. Smestad, Florencia Almonacid, Eduardo F. Fernandez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


It is commonly assumed that cleaning photovoltaic (PV) modules is unnecessary when the inverter is undersized because clipping will sufficiently mask the soiling losses. Clipping occurs when the inverter's AC size is smaller than the overall modules' DC capacity and leads to the conversion of only part of the PV-generated DC energy into AC. This study evaluates the validity of this assumption, theoretically investigating the current magnitude of clipping and its effect on soiling over the contiguous United States. This is done by modelling energy yield, clipping and soiling across a grid of locations. The results show that in reality, under the current deployment trends, inverter undersizing minimally affects soiling, as it reduces these losses by no more than 1%absolute. Indeed, clipping masks soiling in areas where losses are already low, whereas it has a negligible effect where soiling is most significant. However, the mitigation effects might increase under conditions of lower performance losses or more pronounced inverter undersizing. In any case, one should take into account that degradation makes clipping less frequent as systems age, also decreasing its masking effect on soiling. Therefore, even if soiling was initially mitigated by the inverter undersizing, its effect would become more visible with time.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages10
JournalRenewable Energy
StatePublished - 2024

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/JA-5K00-87894


  • inverter clipping
  • inverter loading ratio
  • operation and maintenance
  • photovoltaics
  • soiling


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