Solar Power Inverters
What are solar panel inverters? They are an important part of the solar power equation.
The main role of an inverter is to change the direct current to alternating current via an electrical switching process. Just think of them as electronically-controlled synthesized alternators.
Different Kinds of Solar Panel Inverters
When it comes to inverters there are two main kinds:
- Stand-Alone Inverters
- Synchronous Inverters/ Multi-function Inverters
Let’s take a quick look at how each of these work:
As we mentioned, inverters change direct current (DC) from a battery to alternative current (AC). Most standard inverters start at around 100 watts and can go as high as 8000 watts depending on size. Lower wattage inverters can be used to power small devices like laptops, lights or chargers. Larger stand-alone inverters are primarily utilized for larger projects like rooftop solar paneling.
A quick formula to calculate what class of inverter you’ll need to use is described below:
=Total AC Load
(This would be the basic required wattage needed for a stand-alone inverter)
If you’re unsure about the about the wattage, you can simply check the power cable on any appliance. The sum of the wattage ratings can help determine the wattage you’ll require from the solar panel inverter.
These kinds of inverters arise from a synchronous dynamic between the utility company and the personal solar paneling. Basically, solar energy can be safely stored in personal battery units and the excess can be sold back to the utility company. Programs like Microfit allow residents of Ontario to get fixed rates on solar power generation.
The relationship can also work in reverse. If there is inadequate solar energy generated to power the entire household the inverter will request additional power from the local grid. In this way, on particularly cloudy days when your panels haven’t generated enough power your electrical supply isn’t interrupted.
Most systems function on a synchronous system. This avoids the power outages and unreliable associated with traditional stand-alone systems. Some platforms that are operating in remote areas can also have a secondary backup system in the form of an alternative battery or even a smaller generator.
This is the best form of solar paneling and also the most widely produced form. Although slightly more expensive, multifunction paneling offers more reliability. An inverter converts direct current to alternating though a careful switching process. This process usually takes the form of a sine wave, which is the best wave pattern for transmitting AC power.