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 courtesy of SolarQuotes.com.au.
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.
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.