A solar panel inverter is the ‘brain’ and control centre of your rooftop solar system. While your panels are the most visible part of your solar setup, the electricity collected cannot be used without the input of a high-quality solar inverter.
Solar inverters are generally mounted on an external wall near your meter box, are weatherproof to an IP65 rating and come in several distinct varieties which we touch on below.
How does a solar inverter work?
Energy collected by your solar panels isn’t directly transferred into your home to power your appliances and charge your devices. The photovoltaic cells (PV) collect direct current (DC) electricity which can’t be efficiently utilised for domestic and commercial uses.
This is where the inverter comes in.
Essentially, a solar panel inverter converts the DC electricity to 240-volt alternating current (AC), in order for it to be used effectively. The inverter is also responsible for solar ‘traffic control’, directing converted power to where it is needed, whether to the home for direct use, installed solar storage, or to the electricity grid.
Types of inverters
There are six main types of inverters, each performing different functions, and multiple brands of inverters. However, not all inverters are compatible with every brand of solar panel. For example, the Fronius inverter is one of the first to be compatible with Tesla Powerwall solar batteries.
To determine if your chosen inverter is compatible with your new or existing system, reach out to the experienced solar experts at Solar System.
String inverters are the most common form available for rooftop solar systems, consisting of groups of panels known as ‘strings’. Electricity is fed into the solar panel inverter from the panels through connecting wires, allowing DC to be transformed into useful AC. However, string inverters may be incompatible with solar storage systems without an additional battery inverter.
Micro inverters are smaller than string inverters, both in size and capacity. However, each microinverter connects to the back of a single panel rather than multiple. Micro inverters can provide improved performance when panels are partly shaded but can be a lot more expensive than equivalent string models.
Battery inverters are needed for use with storage solutions such as solar batteries. Battery inverters convert direct current electricity stored in a battery into the alternating current in order to be used within the home.
A hybrid inverter combines the functionality and performance of both string and battery inverters. These combined inverters can help you streamline your solar system or to make your system battery ready.
While not a distinct type, grid-tie models are a subgroup of inverters used to match the electricity wave of the main grid. This allows your solar system to export unused energy to the electricity grid and collect a feed-in tariff.
As the name suggests, off-grid inverters are designed and built for off-grid living. While on-grid inverters are made to be compatible with the electrical grid, off-grid systems are made to function with diesel-generated electricity.
To learn more about solar panel inverters, book a free solar assessment with Solar System today!