What is a solar Inverter?

When you have solar panels installed, you probably already know that their main job is to collect sunlight. Then, this sunlight is converted into electric power for your facility or home. But, how exactly does this sunlight become usable electricity for your appliances? This is the job of the most important piece of your system, the solar inverter.

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, Why You Need The Best Power Inverter for Your Solar Panels

How do solar panel inverters work?

A solar inverter acts like the brain of your solar system. It works to convert the direct current (DC) electricity produced by your panels to alternating current (AC) electricity, which can be used by your appliances. The solar inverter is essentially the middleman between your panels and your appliances. In addition to converting electricity, solar inverters are also able to keep your home or facility safe by detecting abnormal electrical currents and utility grid outages. These are all reasons why having a high-quality solar inverter is necessary for your system.

, Why You Need The Best Power Inverter for Your Solar Panels

DC vs AC Electricity

What’s the purpose of inverters? The inverter is the key component in converting solar power from DC to AC for use within your home or business.  Direct current (DC) electrical is electricity which is generated in only one direction. Alternating currents (ACs) are electricity in which electricity flows in alternating directions. In the USA, electrical power uses a 60 Hz AC which translates to 60 turns per second.

Types of Solar Panel Inverters

 

String Inverters

String inverters are used in most smaller-scale systems and are installed in places such as the side of a building or a garage. When using this system, the solar panels are wired together in a string-like method, which then connects to the solar inverter. This type is the oldest kind of solar inverter technology, making it the most cost effective and easiest to maintain. While they are a durable power inverter for solar panels, it is important to understand how the system could be affected. When installing the system, it is important to be cautious of possibly shaded areas. Since multiple panels are stringed together, if shade becomes an issue, the whole system may go down. String inverters are also not as compatible with more complex roofs.

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Optimized String inverters

Power optimizers are often paired with string inverters. Optimizers are able to be integrated with each individual solar panel in your system, which allows for individual panel monitoring. While these optimizers do not directly convert electricity from DC to AC, they connect with the main string inverter. Before the current reaches your main string inverter, the optimizers work to condition the electrical currents received by your panels. While power optimizers come at an additional cost, they are more efficient than installing a string inverter on its own due to the allowance for the moderation of individual panels. If your roof tends to attract shade, investing in a power-optimized string inverter may be worth it.

, Why You Need The Best Power Inverter for Your Solar Panels

Microinverters

Ephase Microinverters are the type of solar inverters that are used in our residential solar systems. installed directly to the back of each individual panel, allowing for the DC current to be converted to AC more efficiently. Unlike string inverters, microinverters are able to get the job done right on the roof, making them the best power inverter for solar panels. They are able to mitigate possible shading issues your roof may encounter by converting DC to AC at the panel, which allows each of the panels to act independently of each other, regardless of shading across other panels. While these inverters are more expensive, they are the most reliable.

, Why You Need The Best Power Inverter for Your Solar Panels

Why You Need the Best Quality Inverter

Indulging in a high-quality power inverter for your solar panels allows for a better and safer experience with your solar system. Solar inverters work to ensure that electric currents are safely converted so no damage occurs to your appliances. Inverters are an extremely important part of your solar panel system and work hard to convert thousands of watts of power a day. This means that issues can arise, making it important for you to invest in the best possible inverter.

Maximize solar power output

Inverters are responsible for continuously tracking the solar array’s output to identify productivity  of each module. Inverters can monitor your solar energy system,   and dashboard reporting identifies when a module isn’t producing as much energy due the shading from environmental factors or if there are any damaged modules in your solar array. Each inverter manufacturer has their own monitoring dashboard and smartphone application.

Communication with the power grid

With advanced software, smart inverters can now communicate with the grid to perform specific functionalities related only through power production. With each panel having its own independent Enphase microinverter, if any single one goes out then the rest will continue producing energy, unlike other central inverters. Inverters are a great way to generate power for your home, but they also have the ability communications capabilities. These can be accessed through hardwired ethernet or Bluetooth and even Wi-Fi.

What you should know about solar power inverters and your solar installation

The Enphase IQ8 micro inverter system is a great solution for those who want to make sure that their solar panels are never down. However, they may not be ideal for every solar installation. They are more expensive than the IQ7 model. They offer sunlight backup – which can offer off- grid capabilities if the grid goes down. The power output in this circumstance is limited,  and it will not power major appliances such as air conditioning systems.

Sunlight backup is not part of a standard solar energy system installation, and you should ask about pricing that aspect into your solar power system project. If the sunlight backup option does not interest you, you should consider going with the cost-saving Enphase IQ7, as it has almost identical efficiency and power output. Sunlight backup also requires the addition of the IQ System Controller.

 

The Best Commercial Solar Inverters for Your Business

When installing solar panels for your business, choosing a microinverter to go with it would be the best option. This option is much quicker and easier to install, compared to a string inverter-operated system. Additionally, if something were to go wrong with your solar panels, microinverters make it much easier to pinpoint and resolve the problem.

Both the Enphase IQ 7 and the Enphase IQ 7+ are great options when choosing your solar inverter for your business. These microinverters are designed to handle converting high doses of power your facility may need.

Questions about Solar Inverters

What type of inverter do you need for solar panels?

Choosing the right power inverter for solar panels may seem overwhelming. However, it is important to note that string inverters, power optimizers, and micro inverters are all great options for your solar panels. If your roof tends to deal with more shade and is more complex, the microinverter would be the best option. When choosing your solar inverters, it is best to evaluate your roof, the size of your system, and your personal preferences.

Why is an inverter needed for solar panels?

Power inverters are necessary for solar panels. These solar inverters are able to turn the DC electricity produced by solar panels into usable AC electricity for your appliances. Additionally, solar inverters are able to keep your appliances from getting damaged by filtering out abnormal currents. Having a high-quality inverter is necessary for your solar panels for them to be able to function properly and keep your home or facility safe.

Why does a 6.6 kW solar system have a 5kw inverter?

Oftentimes, a 6.6kW solar system will have a 5kW inverter. This is because investing in a higher-power inverter is oftentimes not worth it. These solar inverters are much more expensive and are not necessary. After losses from shading are taken into consideration, the solar panels will typically produce 5kW. 

How are solar panels rated?

Solar panels are rated using Standard Test Conditions (STC).  Very rarely will your rooftop match the STC environmental conditions, and therefore will produce less than their rated power. As an example, we often use inverters rated at 295 watts of output on panels with an STC rating of 320 watts.

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