What is a Solar Inverter?

Posted by Andi

What is a solar inverter?

Solar inverters are one of the most important components of a solar panel system. They’re responsible for converting direct current (DC) electricity from your solar panels to alternating current (AC) electricity to power your appliances.

How do they work?

A solar inverter converts the variable direct current (DC) output from your solar panels into alternating 120V/240V current (AC). They are necessary because your home’s appliances run on AC rather than DC and so the solar inverter must convert the DC output gathered by your solar panels.

Solar Inverter

How to determine inverter size

Solar inverters are available in a variety of sizes. An inverter’s size can be measured in watts, just as solar panels (W). Installers will consider three key considerations when fitting solar inverters: the size of your solar array, your region and how much sunlight you are likely to get, and site-specific variables. 

Types of inverters

There are several different types of inverters with the main ones being:

  • String Inverter

String inverters are the most traditional type of inverter, employing a proven technology that has been used for decades.  Solar panels are put on a ‘string’ and are arranged into groups or rows. Multiple strings can be connected to a single inverter which transforms the DC electricity produced by the panels into appliance-friendly AC electricity.

  • Microinverter

Residential solar systems are increasingly using micro-inverters. These are attached to each solar panel individually and convert DC to AC on the roof, eliminating the need for a separate inverter.

  • Power Optimiser

Power optimisers are located on the back of each solar panel, and they work in conjunction with a string inverter to convert DC to AC. They do this by conditioning the DC electricity from each panel and sending that conditioned DC to the string inverter to convert to AC electricity.

  • Hybrid Inverter

A hybrid inverter is mainly used in solar systems with battery storage. A hybrid solar inverter is capable of converting the incoming DC into AC, while also sending any surplus DC power to store in a solar battery, or to be sold to the grid. When your stored energy is in demand, the electricity can then be inverted to AC to be used in your household.

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