Jessica PirroNovember 25, 20192320
There’s a lot to be thankful for when it comes to solar power. There are new designs, technological advancements, the environmental benefits of solar energy, and much more. One solar energy technology that we are thankful for, is solar power inverters because, without them, the solar electricity generated by the solar panels would be useless. To help explain why we are thankful for solar power inverters we are going to explain what they are and how they work.
What Is a Solar Power Inverter?
A solar power inverter is just as valuable to a solar-powered system as the solar panels are. The basic function of a solar power inverter is to change the direct current electricity that the solar panels are generating, into usable alternating current solar electricity. There are various electrical and electronic components connected in the circuit that aid in the conversion.
How Do Solar Power Inverters Do?
The solar power inverter aids in changing the direct current solar electricity into usable alternating current solar electricity. DC solar power flows in one direction in the circuit and it helps provide a current when there isn’t any electricity. The DC power is used for smaller appliances, like iPods, where the power is stored in the battery. But the AC power is used for household appliances.
How do Solar Power Inverters Work?
When the sun hits the solar panels, electrons within the photovoltaic cells begin moving around, which is what produces the direct current solar energy. The circuits within the photovoltaic cells will then collect the solar energy for you to use in your home.
This is where solar power inverter comes into play. Most homes are going to use alternating current (AC), deeming the DC solar energy un-useful. When the solar panels collect the sunlight and convert it solar power, it will then be sent to the solar power inverter. The solar power inverter will then take the DC solar energy and convert it into AC solar energy. Once converted, solar power can be used to power appliances and electronics. If your solar-powered system produces excess solar power, after it is converted, the excess solar energy can be sent to the grid.
Grid-Tied Solar Power Inverters and Off-Grid Solar Power Inverters
If you get a grid-tied solar-powered system, you will need a different solar power inverter than if you have an off-grid solar-powered system.
A grid-tied solar power inverter takes the DC power from the solar panels, and will then convert it into AC solar power, then send it back to the grid for credit.
Grid-tied solar power inverters are a lot simpler and easier to wire because are only two components - the solar power inverter and the solar panels. But, some of the grid-tied solar-powered systems are beginning to incorporate energy storage. However, most aren’t going to include any solar power batteries.
But when it comes to an off-grid solar-powered system, the solar power inverter is going to need a battery bank to function.
Here’s how an off-grid solar power inverter works. Your solar panels feed the DC solar power into the batteries. Then your solar power inverter takes that power and converts it, creating the AC solar power for your home. This will essentially work as a miniature solar power grid.
A common question that some homeowners have is, “will the solar power deplete your solar power batteries?” The answer is no, provided that your solar-powered system is set up and designed correctly. The battery bank gets recharged by your solar panels, a charge controller, and a battery backup generator in the winter months.
As you can imagine, an off-grid solar-powered system is going to be a lot more complicated because there are a few additional components, like the charge controller, the battery monitor, and additional AC and DC circuit breakers.
You might also find it challenging to purchase the off-grid solar-powered system equipment because there’s a lot of associated accessories: remote controls, battery monitor, breakers and enclosures, surge suppressors, and more.
The Different Kinds of Solar Power Inverters
All solar power inverters perform the basic task of converting DC solar energy into AC solar energy for your home use. But you will have three different solar power inverter technologies to choose from.
String Solar Power Inverters
Most of the small scale solar-powered systems are going to use a string solar power inverter, which is also known as a ‘centralized’ solar power inverter. For the solar-powered systems with string inverters, each of the solar panels are going to be wired together on ‘strings’. When they produce solar energy, it’s all going to be sent to a single solar power inverter, which is going to be located on the side of your house, in a garage, or your basement. The solar power inverter is going to then convert all of the solar electricity from your solar panels in AC solar electricity for your property’s use.
The solar power optimizers can be looked at like a compromise between string solar power inverters and microinverters. But, much like the microinverters, power optimizers are going to be located on the roof, next to individual solar panels. Most solar-powered systems with solar power optimizers are still going to send energy to the centralized solar power inverter.
The solar power optimizers don’t convert the DC solar electricity into the AC solar electricity at the sight of the solar panels. But, they condition the DC solar power by fixing the voltage of solar electricity. A solar-powered system that pairs an optimizer with a string solar power inverter is going to increase the efficiency of solar energy.
A string solar power inverter is considered a centralized solar power inverter, microinverters are distributed solar power inverters. Solar-powered systems that have microinverters have a small solar power inverter installed at the site of each of the solar panels. Instead of sending the solar energy from every solar panel down to a single solar power inverter, microinverter solar-powered systems convert the DC solar energy into AC solar energy right there on the roof.
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