When it comes to solar power, efficiency is key. You want to ensure that your panels are producing power efficiently, your inverter is converting it efficiently, and your solar batteries are storing it efficiently. Efficiency throughout your system adds up to more usable power and less tapping into the power grid. But if you use a string inverter—which is the most common inverter for residential solar systems—then your panels could be suffering from decreased efficiency. Power optimizers could fix that. Keep reading to learn why you should consider adding power optimizers to your system.

Don’t Drag Down the Whole Array

When using a string inverter, your solar panels are connected in tandem, much like a string of Christmas lights. (Hence the name “string inverter.”) If a bulb burns out on a strand of lights, what happens to the rest of the strand? Typically, those will burn out too. Solar arrays experience a similar issue known as mismatch-loss. Mismatch-loss can be caused by a number of different things, including partial shading of your array, manufacturing tolerance, degradation, and more.

But regardless of the cause, it always has the same effect: reduced efficiency for your entire array. If one panel is shaded by a nearby tree, that panel’s efficiency will drop, and it will drag the efficiency of the rest of the array down with it.

How Power Optimizers Help

So, how do power optimizers combat this problem? Optimizers are attached directly to each solar panel in your system, turning it into its own smart module. The optimizers then regulate the output of the module before delivering the energy to the central inverter. By consistently tracking the maximum power point of each panel, optimizers can increase the overall energy output of your entire array and increase efficiency for each panel.

Essentially, power optimizers work as “blinders” for your solar panels, preventing them from getting distracted by their neighbor’s poor performance. While an optimizer can’t keep a shaded panel operating at the same efficiency as it would in full sunlight, it can keep a sunlit panel from being dragged down by its shaded neighbors.

If you use grid-tied solar inverters for your solar power system, adding power optimizers to each of your panels can drastically improve overall performance so that you can get the most out of your system. While installing power optimizers is not inherently difficult, it does require the installer to access the panels on your roof. It’s best to leave the job to a professional in order to keep you safe and avoid any damage to your panels.