A solar inverter is a key component of your solar system and is what turns the Direct Current (DC) electricity created by your solar panels into Alternating Current (AC) electricity which is what powers your home.
Solar panels are made up of silicon photovoltaic (PV) cells and when sunlight hits the solar panels on your roof, the solar PV cells absorb the sunlight’s rays and electricity is produced via the Photovoltaic Effect. The electricity that is produced by your panels is called Direct Current (DC) electricity which is not suitable to be used by your home so it is directed to an inverter or micro-inverter, depending on your system set up.
The inverter is responsible for converting the DC electricity produced by solar panels into AC electricity that can be used to power homes and businesses. The inverter first conditions the DC electricity by optimizing its power output with a DC-to-DC converter. Then, a series of electronic switches rapidly turn the DC voltage on and off, converting it into an AC sine wave that can be used to power appliances and devices and is directed to your homes switchboard.
The switchboard directs your usable AC electricity through your existing electrical wiring to the appliances in your home. The solar energy will be used first to power your home and any additional energy generated will be sent to the grid.
What are the different types of solar inverters?
There are three primary inverter setups for solar: string inverters, hybrid inverters, and microinverters. String inverters are the original technology for solar and they are proven, durable and cost-effective and have been installed for decades throughout the world. Microinverters and hybrid inverters are newer technologies and have been increasing in popularity over the last decade as the complexity of solar systems has grown, and batteries become more common place.
A hybrid inverter is designed to work with both solar panels and battery storage systems, as well as grid power. They have the ability to manage the power flow between the solar panels, battery storage, and the grid, providing a more comprehensive energy management option. Some hybrid inverters can automatically switch between the solar panels, battery storage, and the grid, depending on the availability and cost of the power source.
Hybrid inverters often come with additional features such as energy management systems and the ability to monitor energy production and consumption, allowing for greater optimization of energy usage and savings on energy costs. However, they are generally more expensive than string inverters due to their added features and functionality.
Microinverters are attached to individual panels and convert DC energy into AC energy right at the panel. These are great for rooftops with variable shade, solar farms, or other unique scenarios.
Overall, the choice between a string inverter and a hybrid inverter, and microinverter will depend on the specific needs and goals of the homeowner or business. Those looking for a cost-effective and simple solution may opt for a string inverter, while those on a larger budget and looking for a more advanced energy management system with the ability to store excess solar energy in batteries may choose a hybrid inverter.