If you’ve been doing your research on switching to solar energy for your home, you would surely have encountered two words that are an integral part of your system: solar inverters.
Solar inverters are the brains behind your home’s solar energy system. Without a solar inverter, you have no useable energy! This article tells you what they are and the different kinds of inverters out there. Read on below to learn the five key roles of your solar inverter:
1. Converts DC to AC power
A solar inverter is a power electronic device that converts direct current (DC) output of a photovoltaic (PV) solar panel, into alternating current (AC) that you can use to power your home or send back to the grid. This allows the power to be used by an off-grid network or a commercial electrical grid.
2. Maximizes power output
Quick lesson: Current is the measure of electrons flowing through a wire at a particular time. Its unit is the ampere or amps (A). Voltage is the measure of electrical force between two points. Its unit is the volt (V). Energy is defined as the cumulative amount of power transferred over a certain period of time.
Current x Voltage = Power. Power is the instantaneous rate at which that energy is transferred. Its unit is the watt (W).
When the product of current and voltage is highest, the maximum power point (MPP) of a solar array is reached.
A solar inverter continuously scans the current-voltage of a system to determine the maximum power point and ensure that it is operating optimally through varying environmental conditions.
3. Communicates with the grid
Did you know that, in most countries, power generation plants and electrical grid infrastructures are aging? Sometimes, changes such as varying weather conditions leading to an increased use of air conditioning or heating, or local industrial loads switching on and off, can lead to power outages.
Inverters are now relied on for more advanced interaction with the grid and can operate through system-wide and local power disruptions.
4. Provides information on power production
Whether you own a small home or a large-scale commercial building, inverters allow you to monitor the power output of your solar system.
If you are a homeowner, you can receive information, such as error codes, diagnostics, and power production information from your solar inverter on your desktop or mobile app, such as Schneider Electric’s Insight Energy Management system.
5. Keeps the system safe
Electrical arcs occur when an electrical current jumps a gap in a circuit or between two electrodes. They can result from system aging and material degradation and can happen even when proper precautions have been put in place. Solar inverter systems can identify these electrical arcs and shuts them down keeping the system safe!
For technical information about hybrid inverters, click here.
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- Current = measure of electrons flowing through a wire at a particular time. Its unit is the ampere or amps (A).
- Voltage = measure of electrical force between two points. Its unit is the volt (V).
- Power = Current x Voltage. Power is the instantaneous rate at which that energy is transferred. Its unit is the watt (W).
- Power Electronics = branch of electrical engineering that deals with the control and conversion of electric power to support a variety of needs
- Electrical arc = happens when electrical current jumps a gap in a circuit or between two electrodes
- Maximum Power Point (MPP) = the highest point of the current-voltage of a solar energy system
Reference: PV Inverter Scorecard