What Are Solar Inverters?
Just what in the world are solar inverters or inverters for that matter? Inverters whether for solar electrical power systems or otherwise are electronics devices that convert or change direct current (DC) voltages and current to alternating or (AC) voltages and currents. Homes, commercial buildings and other electrical energy end users use AC to run their equipment, appliances, lighting etc.
Why The Need To Convert DC to AC?
Awesome question! While our appliances in homes, offices, industrial and commercial buildings use AC voltages and current, the solar panels for the most part produce DC voltages and currents. DC voltages are not going to run AC appliances well so they have to be converted to AC. Some solar panels produce AC using microinverters at the panels but they are still low voltages and have to be transformed into higher and useful levels.
As the name implies, microinverters are mini or small inverters that convert the DC to AC voltages at the panel level. Produced low-voltage AC voltages are collected and transformed to 120 or 240 volts, collected and delivered to their outputs to supply power to loads.
Solar chargers are another component of solar power systems that play a key role in its overall function of serving as a power source. Solar chargers are the electronic devices that ‘push’ the voltages produced by the panels and other sources into the storage batteries. Solar chargers could be a separate unit but many systems now integrate them into the inverter units. So you may see inverters but not the chargers. They have been absorbed by the inverter units.
Inverter’s Dual Function
As we now understand that inverters convert DC to AC, let us see what else they do within the system. You saw the mention of storage batteries above. Now, storage batteries are indeed the store houses of excess or unused voltages and currents produced by solar panels and other sources. Batteries serve a very important function in the microgrid system.
Batteries are sources of DC voltages and currents. This power source is not compatible with our home, office, commercial and industrial appliances. So this is where inverters jump in to its dual function, converting the battery voltages into AC and use them accordingly.
We have discussed microgrids in detail in past articles. Let us go back to this awesome human invention here briefly. Microgrids are small grids as compared to the main grid. The main grid is our national electrical grid. Now microgrids could be off or on grid which simply means not connected or connected to the main grid.
Microgrids are small self-producing and self-sustaining electrical power supplies that support specific electrical loads. Microgrids have its power sources like solar panels or arrays, storage battery banks, generators. Electrical loads could be homes, commercial and industrial buildings and other forms of end-users. Microgrids when connected together in a bigger grid become integral components of the main grid.
Now as we contemplate putting these components together, a word of caution! Unless you have had some training in electrical safety please do not do this by yourself! Get the help of an experienced electrician or installer! Do not forget, a mere 0.1 amperes is enough to kill! AND battery voltages and currents can kill. Do not be fooled by the innocent look of batteries!
In addition to the dangers of electrocution from your solar power system with batteries or microgrids, the dangers of electrical fires are as real as anything. Short circuits create heat, sparks and eventually fires!
Here Are Some Examples of Inverters In The Field:
1) MPP SOLAR 2400w Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter 80A MPPT Solar Charger DC 24V AC Output 110V 120V with 60A Utility Charger 50HZ or 60HZ.
2) AIMS Power 6000 Watt Pure Sine Inverter Charger 48Vdc & 240Vac Input to 120 and 240Vac Output 50 or 60Hz
3) HEAVY DUTY (35 lb) – 12V 2000W (PEAK 6000W) Pure Sine Wave Inverter – MicroSolar – With Battery Charger & Cable – Support Microwave, Air Conditioner etc.
4) EPEVER 2000W Inverter Pure Sine Wave Power DC 48V to AC 110V/120V Converter with LED Display
5) Tumo-Int 6000W Split Phase DC 48V to AC 120/240V Solar Inverter Charger with 60A MPPT Controller
Hope you enjoyed this review of several inverters out in the market today. Please leave your comment below.