How does a solar panel inverter work?
Broadly, a solar inverter takes DC energy collected by your solar panels and converts it to AC electricity that can be used within the home.
But let’s get a little more technical.
Your solar panels are comprised of photovoltaic (PV) cells, which are in turn made from layers of semiconductors. When sunlight shines on the solar panels, electrons are bumped loose and move between the positive and negative semiconductor layers.
This creates DC (direct current) electricity.
To convert the DC to AC, electricity is fed into the solar panel inverter, which runs the current through a transformer. The electricity input is quickly switched back and forth within the transformer, forcing it to act as an alternating current.
The electricity is now ready to be used within the home.
While this may seem overly complicated, the inverter performs this function incredibly efficiently, ensuring you have a steady flow of electricity on sunny days.
What size solar panel inverter do I need?
Solar inverters are an integral part of your solar system, effectively the ‘brains’ of the operation. As such, choosing the right size of the inverter is essential to ensure the proper functioning of your solar system.
The easiest way to choose the right size is to discuss your options with the experienced assessors and installers at Solar System. Solar System is a Clean Energy Council (CEC) Approved Solar Retailer, on a mission to help Australian homeowners save on their power bills.
For a baseline, your inverter should be as close a match as possible to the capacity of your solar panel. For example, a 6kW solar system paired with a 6kW inverter.
While a 1:1 ratio is recommended, your solar panels will generally not collect the full capacity at all times. This provides a little wiggle room for the purchase of a smaller inverter.
However, in order to qualify for the rebate-giving STCs (small-scale technology certificates), the CEC established a rule regarding the capacity difference. The inverter must be at least 75% of the maximum solar panel capacity.
Under this rule, a 6kW system could potentially work alongside a 4.5kW inverter. Contact the experienced team at Solar System to check whether this could be a viable option for your home.
Choosing the right solar inverters
When it comes to inverters, there are three big specifications you may wish to consider.
As is the case with most solar-related components, efficiency plays an important role within inverters. Efficiency is a measure of how much electricity is converted successfully from DC to AC. According to Canstar, most inverters have an efficiency of around 95%.
Inverters usually come with a five to ten-year warranty for the component itself, with ten-year warranties on installation and workmanship. A longer warranty can provide coverage throughout the payback period, allowing you to get the most out of your investment.
Depending on the inverter, some models come standard with solar monitoring technology. This allows tracking of how much electricity your system is producing, how much is being exported to the grid, and how much is being stored.
For more information, feel free to reach out to the team at Solar System.