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What are solar power inverters

What exactly is a solar power inverter?

This article is intended to explain the purpose of solar power inverters and their use.

A solar inverter is a vital component of any solar PV system intended to power appliances that run on alternating current (AC). The inverter sits between the solar panels on your roof and your connected load.

Solar power works in the following way:

  1. Solar array collects solar energy
  2. This then passes through a DC box and a DC isolator
  3. The inverter is then situated next which connects into a solar power meter or a PV meter
  4. The energy then is converted to AC and passes through an AC isolator and into the consumer junction
  5. This then passes through an output power meter which is from solar system to grid
  6. Finally from the grid the energy is passed through an input power meter and into the household connected load

What do they look like?

Most inverters are wall-mounted and have red and black DC terminals on the back end, as well as AC electrical outlets on the front end. The reason for this is because there are two types of electricity: AC (alternating current) and DC (direct current). An inverter’s purpose is to convert DC into AC.

Why do we need a solar inverter?

Our home appliances are all designed to use an AC supply of electricity which they get from the outlets in our walls.

However, DC electricity is produced by things like solar panels and batteries, so if we want to power our electrical devices from renewable sources, battery banks or even our car, then we need to convert it into AC electricity. We can do that with an inverter.

The technical stuff

Before we can understand how an inverter works, we must first develop a strong comprehension of electricity. If you take a close look inside a copper wire, you’ll find countless atoms of the metal.

These atoms have electrons that can attach to other atoms. These are called free electrons because they aren’t held down to one spot. They move around randomly, which doesn’t help us much.

To make wires move in the same direction, we need a voltage difference across them, and this is achieved by sending an electrical current through them.

The voltage is like pressure, and it forces the electrons forward. When we complete a circuit by connecting a wire between the positive and negative terminals of a battery, electricity starts to flow. We refer to this movement of electrons as current. The particles constantly strive to return to their source, so if anything obstructs their path, they will have to travel around it. They will then perform work for us, such as lighting a light.

So how do the different types of inverters work?

There are essentially three types of solar power inverters. These are:

  • Grid tied inverters
  • Off-grid inverters
  • Hybrid inverters

Grid tied inverters

A grid tie inverter has the ability to not only feed electricity back into the grid, but also take advantage of net metering.

The Grid tie inverter is more expensive because it can be used without batteries, in addition to the other functions it performs.

Many grid-tie inverters have the ability to shut down the PV system during a power outage.

In the event of a power outage, grid tie inverters will shut down to prevent any electricity it transfers from harming line workers who come to fix the power grid.

Off-grid inverters

An off-grid inverter is a self-sufficient product that does not rely on or provide power to the grid.

If a PV system is designed to be used without being connected to the grid, it will have an off-grid inverter. The panels in this type of system are connected with a charge controller.

The charge controller is linked to the batteries. An off-grid inverter is then linked to the batteries.

Off-grid inverters can be portable, while grid tied inverter cannot. Therefore, inverters that are labelled for use in caravans and motor-homes are off-grid inverters. A grid tie inverter is directly connected to the solar array and the grid. There is sometimes a charge control option in the grid tie inverter too, so some variants can also be connected to the battery pack.

Hybrid inverters

The inverter will utilize stored energy from the battery to create dc power when there is a power outage, allowing you to still use electrical appliances.

This system is beneficial for those who experience multiple or lengthy power outages, as it combats both grid tie and off-grid inverters. By having one hybrid inverter system, you are prepared for anything- whether the power almost never goes out or if blackouts are a frequent occurrence.

When running correctly, this machine can provide power to the home, recharge batteries, and even give extra electricity back to the grid.

The unit will automatically switch to battery power in the event of a power outage and continue to function independently from the electric grid.

Ask the experts

If you’re considering going solar, talk to specialists about the many different types of grid-tied, off-grid, and hybrid inverters available. Companies such as us can help you to navigate the sometimes complicated process of selecting the right solar power inverter for your system.

Need help choosing, then please feel free to give us a call on 0800 0096625 or email us at info@myevergreenhome.co.uk

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