Solar Power Inverters
A solar inverter is a device that changes DC electrical current generated by solar panels into AC which is more widely used by most common electrical appliances. The inverter is a vital part of a solar power system and even with the best solar panels installed the system will not output its full potential if the inverter is not functioning correctly.
Solar panels and batteries like the one in your car or flashlight all produce direct current (DC). These batteries always have a positive and negative terminal, and the DC current always flows the same direction between the two terminals.
The electricity that comes from a power plant is alternating current (AC). The directional flow of alternating current changes alternating between 50 to 60 times every second. This is the type of power that comes out of your homes power point 240v AC and is what powers most appliances.
A good quality inverter should provide years of trouble free service while remaining within a tolerable operating temperature as some inefficient cheaper models can overheat.
Video - How To Choose A Good Solar Inverter
Video courtesy of SolarQuotes.com.au.
String Inverter System Configuration
The most common type of inverter used in homes and commercial solar power systems is the string inverter. These inverters are most often a large wall mounted box and can be fixed to a wall in a conveniently accessible location out of the weather away from the solar panels and preferably out of the reach of children.
- Can be mounted away from the solar panels
- Highly efficient
- Strong and reliable
- Available in 3 phase
- Low cost to buy and setup
- Proven technology and good product support
- A system can be monitored remotely
- No panel output level monitoring
- High voltage DC cables required to connect possible safety hazard
Micro Inverter Systems
A micro-inverter does the same job as any other inverter converting DC into AC; however, instead of having one central unit handling output from all the solar panels in a system, each solar panel has its dedicated micro inverter which is usually mounted very close to the panel.
- Maximum Power Point Tracking
- Poor performing or shaded panels will have less effect on the performance of the remaining panels
- Panel level monitoring
- Lower DC voltage between the panel and inverter for safety
- Greater system design flexibility
- Panels can be of a different make and can be swapped easily
- More expensive per watt of power when compared to string inverter setup
- More complex to install
- Inverters are exposed to the extremes of weather and heat; this may cause long-term issues
- Any maintenance issues that need attendance may be more expensive due to the need to climb up on the roof where the units are located, not good in the rain