Solar inverters are essential components of any solar panel system, converting direct current (DC) energy generated by solar panels into alternating current (AC) energy to be used by your home or business. With so many types and brands of inverters on the market, choosing the right one for your system can be daunting.
This article will demystify solar inverters and help you choose the right one for your needs. We’ll cover the different types of inverters, how to size an inverter, and key factors to consider when making your selection.
What is a solar inverter?
A solar inverter is a device that converts the direct current (DC) electricity generated by solar panels into alternating current (AC) electricity that can be used by your home or business. AC electricity is the type of electricity that powers most appliances and electronics.
How does a solar inverter work?
Solar panels generate DC electricity, while most appliances and electronics require AC electricity. A solar inverter converts the DC electricity from the solar panels into AC electricity that can be used by your home or business.
Types of solar inverters
- Grid-tied inverters: Grid-tied inverters are the most common type of solar inverter. They connect your solar panel system to the electrical grid. This means that you can sell excess electricity back to your utility company, or use it to offset the electricity you purchase from the grid.
- Off-grid inverters: Off-grid inverters are used for solar systems that are not connected to the electrical grid. They store the electricity generated by your solar panels in batteries, so you can use it even when the sun isn’t shining.
- Hybrid inverters: Hybrid inverters can be used for both grid-tied and off-grid solar systems. They allow you to store excess electricity in batteries, so you can use it even when the sun isn’t shining or when the grid is down.
- String inverters: They connect to a single string of solar panels and convert the DC electricity from the solar panels into AC electricity.
- Microinverters: Microinverters are attached to each individual solar panel and convert the DC electricity from the solar panel into AC electricity at the panel level.
- Power optimizers: Power optimizers are similar to microinverters, but they attach to each individual solar panel and convert the DC electricity to a higher voltage DC electricity. The power optimizers then connect to a central inverter that converts the high voltage DC electricity to AC electricity.
How to size a solar inverter.
The size of the solar inverter you need depends on the size of your solar panel system. The inverter should be able to handle the maximum output of your solar panel system.
For example, if you have a 5kW solar panel system, you will need a 5kW inverter. However, you may want to consider getting an oversized inverter if you plan to add more solar panels to your system in the future.
Factors to consider when choosing a solar inverter
When choosing a solar inverter, there are a few key factors to consider:
- Type of inverter: Choose the type of inverter that is best suited for your needs. String inverters are common and cost-effective type of inverter, but microinverters and power optimizers offer additional benefits, such as increased energy production and improved performance in shaded conditions.
- Size of inverter: Make sure to choose an inverter that is the right size for your solar panel system. The inverter should be able to handle the maximum output of your solar panel system.
- Efficiency: The efficiency of a solar inverter is a measure of how much of the DC electricity from the solar panels is converted into AC electricity. Select an inverter with a high efficiency to maximize your energy production.
- Warranty: Choose an inverter with a long warranty. Solar inverters are typically covered by a 10-year warranty, but some manufacturers offer longer warranties.
- Price: Solar inverters can range in price from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars. Select an inverter that fits your budget and needs.
- Features: Some solar inverters come with additional features, such as monitoring capabilities and battery compatibility. Consider which features are important to you when picking an inverter.
Best solar inverters for 2023
Here are a few of the best solar inverters for 2023, according to independent reviews:
- SolarEdge SE7600H-US: The SolarEdge SE7600H-US is a string inverter with a high-efficiency rating and a long warranty. It is compatible with SolarEdge’s Power Optimizer system, which improves energy production and performance in shaded conditions.
- Enphase IQ7+ Microinverter: The Enphase IQ7+ Microinverter is a microinverter with a high-efficiency rating and a long warranty compatible with Enphase’s Ensemble system, which provides cloud-based monitoring and control of your solar panel system.
- SMA Sunny Boy 7.2-US Inverter: The SMA Sunny Boy 7.2-US Inverter is a string inverter with a high-efficiency rating and a long warranty compatible with SMA’s Smart Connect system, which provides cloud-based monitoring and control of your solar panel system.
Solar inverters are essential components of solar power systems because they convert DC power from PV cells to usable AC.
Whether you choose microinverters, string inverters, or hybrid inverters, each offers advantages and disadvantages. When selecting an inverter, you should also evaluate its efficiency and power rating, as well as how these aspects affect the overall performance of your solar system.
Remember compatibility and sizing – an inverter must be compatible with your solar panels and the correct size to function successfully.