If you have a solar panel system in your home, you may benefit from a solar inverter system.
There’s a lot more to installing a solar panel system than just putting up some solar panels and calling it a day. Wiring, batteries, and several other components are all required to make sure your system works as efficiently as possible so that you can get the most out of your solar installations.
One of the most important of these components is the solar inverter system. These inverters help convert solar energy into a form that can be used by your appliances, making them an essential part of your home’s solar power system.
The Role of the Solar Inverter System
In broad terms, the role of your solar inverter system is pretty simple. Your home’s appliances run on alternating current (AC) power. However, the energy produced by a photovoltaic (PV) system has direct current (DC) energy.
The solar inverter system is how you convert DC electricity into that AC energy. As DC energy passes through the inverter, a system of transistors rapidly switch on and off, turning the direct current into a predictable AC sine wave shape.
Of course, there are several different types of solar inverter systems, and circumstances for set-up vary from home to home. However, those considerations are mostly just various iterations of the same task.
How Solar Inverters Function in a PV System?
PV power systems use solar cells to convert sunlight into electricity. Whether you call a professional to install your panels or you use easy-to-install solar panel kits, the panels are constructed the same. They consist of layers of semiconducting material, and the layers—both positively and negatively charged—are connected by junctions.
As these semiconductors absorb sunlight, the PV panels receive the light as energy, knocking electrons free. These electrons flow between the negative and positive layers, which produces direct current, or DC, energy.
The DC energy can then take one of two paths, depending on your solar power system. In many homes, the power produced by these PV cells flows to solar batteries, where it can be stored for later use. Other times, the energy flows directly to a solar inverter system, where it’s transformed for immediate use in your home.
Choosing the Best Inverter Option for Your Home
When choosing a solar inverter system for your home, it’s essential to know as much information as possible about your needs. For example, you need to know how many people will be living in your household and roughly how much power your home consumes on an average day. When designing your solar power system, you should consider using a solar panel calculator to make sure you’re installing enough panels to meet your needs.
Once you have all the information, you can choose from among the different types of inverters available. Your selection should ensure that you get the power you need without suffering annoying disruptions. Here are the various options available:
Central inverters are easily the biggest inverters you’re likely to come across. These inverters are designed to service large commercial properties, which require large amounts of power—usually around 500 kilowatts per unit. While these are relatively common in huge facilities and used for collecting energy from giant solar farms, they far exceed the needs of the average homeowner.
Much more common for home solar systems are microinverters, which are installed on every single panel. Unlike central inverters that collect power from every panel simultaneously, microinverters can convert energy from each panel individually.
In general, microinverters provide the steadiest supply of energy. However, because each solar panel needs its own inverter, using microinverters can quickly become quite expensive. They’re best for complicated roof situations in which your roof experiences shading throughout the day.
In between string inverters and microinverters are power optimizers. Power optimizers aren’t technically inverters. Instead, they are located on each solar panel and condition the power before sending it to a single inverter.
While this option is more expensive than a string inverter system, it provides more efficient energy generation and transmission, optimizing the power output of each solar panel. And because power optimizers require less energy than microinverters, the cost is also generally much less.
In addition to transforming DC power to AC to make it usable for your home, battery inverters also convert AC power to DC power, allowing you to charge your batteries. That way, you get the most from your solar power system.
Sometimes called a “multi-mode inverter,” hybrid inverters are designed to regulate inputs from battery banks and solar panels. This setting allows them to charge batteries either from the electrical grid, the solar panel, or a combination of the two. Hybrid inverters can help maximize the efficiency of your system, especially when they’re correctly programmed.
Finding the Right Balance
Choosing a solar inverter is like any other decision you make in your home: You have to balance cost against the final results. However, when it comes to powering your home, the ultimate goal should be to ensure you have enough energy to keep your home functioning.
Whether you’re supplementing your solar power with grid electricity or fully optimizing your solar power generation, choosing the suitable inverter for your solar panel system will keep you from running out of electricity when you need it most.