Solar inverters are the brains of the plant controlling electrical feed from the panels and charging the batteries.
An inverter is a valuable machine to own as it converts direct current into alternating current.
Why is this important? In the event of loss of power, or in South Africa, load shedding, an inverter is extremely useful as an emergency backup power unit.
They can then be used to power the television, power tools, kitchen appliances and computers. They are powered by a combination of batteries or a single battery of 12V or 24V. The batteries are in turn charged by gas generators, car engines, solar panels and even wind turbines! This makes them a great source of alternative energy supply.
How do they work?
The main function of an inverter is to convert DC (direct current) to AC (alternating current) which then supplies your home, or building. They are ideal for solar panels because it simply absorbs the sunlight and pushes it through the system in one direction. Because alternating current flows in both directions, all of your appliances can be powered.
The energy from the panels or batteries are fed to the inverter. In turn it handles that energy by transforming the direct current power to alternating current.
Which are the best solar inverters?
There are four main types, each with their own pros and cons.
- String solar – these are the most popular type
- Hybrid – These are becoming more popular as hybrid inverter technology advances and batteries become cheaper and more appealing
- Micro – Each micro inverter and panel operate independently. This makes them a great option for complex roof layouts and areas with limited sunlight.
- Off-grid – Off-grid or stand-alone power systems require powerful battery inverters with chargers built in which can be setup as either alternating current or direct current systems.
When selecting which type of electrical converter will suit your needs best, it is important to take the following into consideration:
- Quality and reliability
- Service and support
What size inverter do I need?
In order to determine what size inverter will suit you best, you will first need to decide which appliances will be needed. This will give you an indication of the power you will require. Then, an electrical converter can be selected. They need to supply two needs – peak or surge power, and continuous or usual power. Surge power is the amount of power that can be supplied over a short period and continuous power is the total WATTS that can be supported.
The next step is to determine how long you will need the power for. Based on that information, you will then select a battery source which will be connected in series or parallel .
Choosing an inverter that has the right combination of performance, durability, easy to install and connect will undoubtedly make installation a breeze.
The ultimate goal should be to save money on your usage bill every month as well as have less impact on the environment. Inverters are therefore especially useful if you are setting up a solar power system.
Every step we take is a step towards a greener future.