Micro-inverters operating into the single-phase grid from solar photovoltaic (PV) panels or other low-voltage sources must buffer the twice-line-frequency variations between the energy sourced by the PV panel and that required for the grid. Moreover, in addition to operating over wide average power ranges, they inherently operate over a wide range of voltage conversion ratios as the line voltage traverses a cycle. These factors make the design of micro-inverters challenging. This paper presents a multilevel energy buffer and voltage modulator (MEB) that significantly reduces the range of voltage conversion ratios that the dc-ac converter portion of the micro-inverter must operate over by stepping its effective input voltage in pace with the line voltage. The MEB also functions as an active energy buffer to reduce the twice-line-frequency voltage ripple at the output of the solar panel. The small additional loss of the MEB can be compensated by the improved efficiency of the dc-ac converter stage, leading to a higher overall system efficiency. A prototype micro-inverter incorporating a MEB, designed for 27 V to 38 V dc input voltage, 230 V rms ac output voltage, and rated for line cycle average power of 70 W, has been built and tested in grid-connected mode. It is shown that the MEB can successfully enhance the performance of a single-phase grid-interfaced micro-inverter by increasing its efficiency and reducing the total size of the twice-line-frequency energy buffering capacitance.