Every solar power system recently installed in Australia has at least one inverter, which is like the heart of the system. It takes the electricity generated by solar panels or batteries, which is called direct current, and converts it to the kind of electricity that’s used in homes, called alternating current. Inverters are really important because if they don’t work, you can’t use the electricity that your solar panels make. How to choose the right inverter for your solar power system?
Why is it important to have a good inverter?
Having a good inverter is really important. If your inverter is faulty, your solar panels won’t work until it’s fixed or replaced. Even if you have a really good inverter, it probably won’t last as long as the rest of your solar power system. While solar panels can last over 25 years, inverters usually last 10 to 15 years. But you can replace your inverter at least once during the life of your solar power system.
Which inverter should you choose?
Most solar power systems use grid-connected inverters. These inverters turn the energy from your solar panels into the kind of power that your home uses and put it into your home’s electrical wiring. Your solar panels are connected to the inverter in a series of strings, with each panel feeding into the one behind it. If one panel doesn’t work as well (for example, if it’s in the shade), it affects all the other panels in that string. Grid-connected inverters need to be connected to the power grid or a 220V AC supply to work. If the grid fails (like during a blackout), the inverter will stop working.
What about micro-inverters?
Another type of grid-connected inverter is the micro-inverter. It’s mounted on the back of a solar panel so that each panel can be connected to the grid independently. Micro-inverters are great if you want to start small and add more solar panels to your system over time, or if some of your solar panels will be in the shade.
What about hybrid inverters?
If your solar power system also includes batteries, you’ll need a more complex kind of inverter called a hybrid inverter. It needs to be able to charge and discharge batteries as well as generate power from your solar panels and put it into the grid. Hybrid inverters can also supply power to other appliances from batteries and solar power during a power outage, like a big UPS. They can even charge batteries from the grid. This means that many hybrid inverters can handle all the energy flows in an energy system. Some can also send extra solar energy to specific appliances, like a water heater, so you don’t need a separate device for that.
You don’t need a hybrid inverter if you have batteries. You can use standard grid-connected inverters or micro-inverters with batteries if you add another inverter or use a battery with a built-in inverter. But those setups won’t have all the extra features of a system with a hybrid inverter.