Solar Panel Inverters

Renewable and Sustainable Energy with Solar Energy: Inverters

Skill Level
20 Min

Chapter 4

Table of Contents

Solar Inverters

Solar inverters are the unsung hero of the wave of solar panels. The market for solar inverters can rise to $26.5 billion by 2025 due to the expected rise in solar energy. So, what is the function of a solar inverter in solar panel systems?

A solar inverter is a device that changes the energy received from the sun into electricity. It is one of the essential elements for the solar energy system to work. The inverter changes direct current from solar panels into an alternating current used to run appliances such as microwave, TV, lighting, air conditioners, etc. Moreover, you’ll be surprised to know that solar inverters use battery backup at night.

Without solar inverters, your solar panels will take in energy but can’t function. You need a solar inverter to convert the power from sunlight into electricity for your household appliances.

What Does a Solar Inverter Do?

solar panel inverter

In simple terms, a solar-powered inverter is simply a device that converts a direct current to an alternating current, which your household devices can then use. However, a solar inverter’s utility doesn’t end here. There is more!

Solar panel inverters monitor your system’s performance. It provides you with feedback to monitor any faults in the system. Thus, it allows you to be proactive before a bigger system failure.

To sum it up, there are four primary functions of a solar inverter:

  1. It converts a direct-current supply to an alternating current.
  2. It ensures that your system gives its maximum power output.
  3. Making sure that your system is performing all operations safely.
  4. Tracking your daily power output.

How Does a Solar Inverter Work?

Now that you know that a solar inverter converts DC supply to AC, you might be wondering how it does that. Well, the process isn’t as complex.

A solar inverter has a set of insulated gate bipolar transistors. Inside the inverter, these devices are all connected in the shape of an H. This formation causes the current to change from direct to alternating. Furthermore, a step-up transformer in a solar inverter stabilizes the power and transmits it to the grid.

Advantages of a Solar Inverter

Before we delve deeper and look into types of solar inverters and their specific advantages to your needs, let’s discuss the 2 overall benefits of the devices.

1. Grid Integration

Higher degrees of photo-voltaic penetration is dangerous for electric grids, especially old ones, as they bear a greater risk of damage. Solar inverters can provide a solution to this problem.
Inverters are a gateway that connects your solar energy system to the grid and your household appliances. They control the power output. Hence, solar inverters can create a stable and predictable supply of power, which will do little damage to your grid.

This feature is handy in areas where solar panels are becoming increasingly common. It prevents the grids from undergoing the expensive process of restoration and upgrades.

2. They Offer a Flexibility in Design

Projects involving solar energy systems are increasing rapidly. They demand several solar inverters, which you can install in different places in the project design.

Solar inverters come in both centralized and decentralized models. In decentralized inverters, you can install multiple devices along different points to achieve the lowest power cost.

Centralized inverters are placed in common system designs at the center. Although they are still the most popular type of inverter by demand, decentralized inverters are becoming increasingly common.

Types of Solar Inverters

Solar inverters
We have explained the basics of how a solar inverter operates. However, there are certain factors of their mechanism that depend on type.

There are several types of solar inverters available in the market for different uses. You can choose any depending on your requirements and house or office needs. The choice of a solar inverter depends on where you’re planning to install it and the purpose.

But to give you a better idea, we’ll outline some popular types of solar inverters you can buy.

Off-Grid Inverters

The off-grid inverter is not directly connected to the utility grid of the solar panel. Hence, the name.

The inverter uses solar energy from the panels to power your appliances and charges the batteries for night use. When solar power is not available at night, it uses the current stored in the battery to power up your premises.

If you have installed a complete off-grid solar system, you should connect an off-grid inverter for efficient performance. This way, you’ll reap the benefits at night or during unfavorable weather conditions.

The off-grid inverter has better efficiency than its counterparts, hence the widespread use.

Hybrid Solar Inverters

You can use hybrid solar systems in cloudy areas, where weather is unpredictable, and there are days without sunlight. This system generates power similar to the off-grid system, but it saves energy for days when there’s less sunlight. It stores energy because of an intricate system of special batteries and inverters. A hybrid solar panel inverter converts solar energy into usable power. These inverters supply power to your house and charge the batteries.

How efficient is that?

When the batteries are full, a hybrid solar inverter exports the excess current to the central grid.

People who go for hybrid solar inverters end up saving a lot more because of their effectiveness. Not only does it charge your battery, but it also supplies energy to the house simultaneously.

The popularity of hybrid inverters is obvious because, in New York, two hybrid energy storage systems are under installation. The plants will store energy during the day and use it to meet electricity demands at night.

If you want to install the solar panel for the long run, a hybrid solar inverter should be your first choice.

Battery Backup Inverters

This type of inverter works the same as a hybrid solar inverter. Not only does it have a similar operation mechanism, but it also offers similar benefits.

However, there is one big difference between the two types. In a battery backup inverter, you get the extra feature of charging the battery storage from grid power to prevent interruption when the grid goes down. Moreover, if your house is connected to a battery, you can supply excess energy to the grid in case of an overload.

This feature prevents any damage to the system or the utility grid in any electric emergency, such as a short circuit or long hours of load shedding.

The solar battery’s popularity will increase in the coming years. Production of specialized batteries according to industry needs will take battery demands to newer heights. There will be a rise in demand for electric vehicles in the coming decade, increasing electricity and battery demands.

Other Types of Solar Inverters​

solar inverters

Grid inverters can transmit electricity to the power grid through adjustment of the current’s frequency and phase. They also have a built-in mechanism that shuts them down automatically in case of power surges.

Where are Grid-tied Inverters Applicable?

Grid-tied inverters are ideal for urban areas where solar energy systems are connected to the utility grid. Solar panel owners who do not want to bear the high cost of batteries should consider grid-tied inverters.

Advantages of Grid-tied Solar Inverters

Let’s look at the advantages of a grid-tied system now.

  1. A simple and easy way to transmit power to the utility grid.
  2. They have an easy installation process.
  3. Cost is relative.
  4. They are useful in times of high electricity demand.

The Importance of Power Optimizers in a Solar Inverter

A solar inverter power optimizer is like an add-on camera lens for a professional camera. It is not crucial to install, and the former can function without it, but it makes an undeniably massive difference in quality. A power optimizer is a module-level power electronic device (MLPE) that can make a solar panel more useful and reliable. Its primary purpose is to harness your system’s full potential and ensure that you get the best out of your solar panels.

How does this happen?

How a Solar Power Optimizer Works

Power optimizers help in the smooth and efficient transition of DC to AC energy while speeding up the conversion rate. Part of their functionality lies in measuring the maximum power point tracking (MPPT) of each solar panel. 

This information allows the optimizer’s automatic system to adjust the DC transition process to maximize the final solar panels’ energy output. In other words, the optimizer takes the DC power of a solar panel and converts it to the voltage and current that gets the best use out of the solar inverter.

Why Do You Need a Power Optimizer?

In environments where solar panels may not receive an optimal level of sunlight or end up in the shade for a long time, power optimizers can be a complete game-changer. Weather is unpredictable. You cannot always rely on ample sunlight to shine throughout the day and keep your power systems running.

Other Benefits of a Power Optimizer

Additionally, some solar power optimizers also help you keep precise track of individual modules’ performance in the inverter via a monitoring system. This system can even help you with convenient DIY troubleshooting and maintenance.

This enables you to save time and money passively. How many times have you had to call a helpline and pay extra money to fix a system that was supposed to make life easier? No more of that!
With a power optimizer to maximize the potential of your solar inverter, you could avoid so much hassle.

Final Word on Power Optimizers

Overall, a power optimizer:
  • minimizes the amount of hardware you need on your roof
  • improves the reliability of your solar inverter
  • significantly decreases costs in the long run.

It works with almost all kinds of solar panel designs and layouts. This flexibility enables you to easily install it, no matter how you have positioned your solar inverter or panels.

Like a high-quality camera lens, which can upgrade your photography game from amateur to pro, a power optimizer levels up your solar inverter quality from basic to premium.

Key Takeaway

We hope that you found this chapter useful and interesting. As you can see, solar inverters come in many different shapes and sizes. All of them have their uses and functions, and before purchasing one, you should be well aware of their differences. Each inverter has its own merits and demerits. We honestly cannot pick a single winner!

Solar inverters are an essential part of your solar energy system. Without them, you will not reap the optimal benefits of your solar panels. Solar inverters come in many different models, and yet most people aren’t aware of their importance.

We hope you are now in a different category! We hope this article has helped you understand all there is to know about solar systems. You can make better purchase decisions now.
By now, you know what a solar inverter is. Let's dive deeper.