The electric grid and all
devices which run on electricity use alternating current, therefore it
is extremely important to switch the solar power being generated with
an inverter. Although a small number of solar energy producing products
are able to transfer DC power directly into devices, the majority of
solar arrays and other units require a solar power
inverter for the
power to be transferred to the electrical grid.
Types of Solar Power
There are three distinct
types of solar energy inverters, each of which serve a
function and are used for a different type of solar energy system,
although each inverter still converts DC into AC:
Stand alone inverters are used for off-grid
arrays, the solar panels generate direct current energy which is then
stored in rechargeable batteries. When energy is required, the direct
current is sent from the battery to the stand alone inverter and then
converted into alternating current which can then be used to power a
home or for any other electricity needs.
- Stand Alone Inverters
- Grid tie Inverters
- Dual Inverters
Smaller stand alone
are used in a variety of products including solar battery chargers for
phones, water pumps, and even to charge a car
battery. These inverters are necessary for locations where no
power grid is available, or for anyone who wishes to remain completely
independent of energy companies.
With a stand alone system,
you will be
unaffected by power outages because your system will be completely
independent from the power grid. You will be free to consume
electricity whenever you wish, provided your batteries are charged or
your solar array is currently producing electricity.
If you wish to run any
large appliances or equipment off your stand
alone solar system, then it is necessary that you purchase a surge
compliant inverter. These inverters are also necessary for
residential or commercial off-grid solar application. Large electronics
require a surge of energy when first being turned on, so therefore it’s
necessary that your inverter is able to supply this surge of
electricity when required. Most larger off-grid inverters have this
capability, although always be sure to check before you make a purchase.
Grid tie inverters
are for use in any situation where your solar array
is connected directly to your local power grid. These systems, known as
tie solar systems, are more common in urban areas and are
cheaper than stand alone or off-grid systems because of the lack of
need for a battery. In grid tie solar systems, direct current is
generated by the solar panels, which then send this DC energy to the
grid tie inverter.
This energy is then
converted into alternating
current by the inverter, and finally sent directly into the local power
grid. In this type of system, it is necessary to have your solar unit
wired to your grid via your electricity meter, thus ensuring that you
receive credit from the power company for any energy you produce.
type of system is best suited for smaller
scale solar arrays, and
offers no protection in case of power outages because of the lack of a
backup battery. In this type of system, some people argue that you are
not technically consuming any of the electricity that you are
producing, as it is sent directly back into the grid.
All grid tie systems are
required to have a solar energy inverter with
protection which forces them to shut down in case of
power outages. Without anti-islanding protection, your solar
system would continue to generate electricity and send small amounts
back into the electric grid during power outages. This energy would
stay in the local power grid and is referred to as an
islands can be extremely dangerous for utility workers who are trying
to repair the gird during a power outage.
Before purchasing a grid
solar power inverter - especially if you are buying a used inverter -
always make sure to check that the inverter has anti-islanding
protection, as it is illegal
and can be extremely dangerous to install
a grid tie system without it. You probably won’t find any grid tie
inverters on the market without it, but checking to make sure is still
a great way to ensure you are purchasing the correct inverter for your
particular solar system.
also known as backup
battery inverters and are used
in a multi-function solar system. In this system, the direct current
generated by the solar panels is first sent directly to a
energy from the batteries is then sent to the inverter and converted to
alternating current whenever electricity is required. However, when the
batteries are fully charged, any excess direct current electricity that
is generated is sent directly to the inverter and is then sent into the
local power grid. This system combines the
other two systems into one
self-reliant and possibly money generating solar unit.
This type of
solar energy inverter is obviously more expensive than the other two
types because it contains all of the benefits of the others. It allows
you to produce, store, and consume any electricity that your solar
system produces, while also maximizing your systems energy production
by sending any extra energy into the local electrical grid which has
the ability to generate profit.
It also ensures that you
will still be
able to consume electricity even if your system isn’t functioning, as
your property will still be connected to the grid. The major benefit of
this type of solar energy inverter is that you will still be unaffected
by power outages as long as your solar batteries are
charged or your
system is producing electricity.
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