Solar Inverters Explained!
Sep. 07, 2021
A solar inverter is a component of your solar energy system that’s responsible for converting the solar energy that your PV panels capture into usable electricity. Every solar energy system has one or multiple solar power inverters, and your solar panels couldn’t function without one!
But how do solar inverters work exactly? And what is the best solar inverter for your solar energy system? Keep reading for answers to these and more questions about solar inverters, from the experts at Boston Solar. We’re the number one Massachusetts-based solar energy company, and we’ve installed more than 4,800 solar panel systems.
What Are Solar Inverters & How Do They Work?
A solar inverter is an electrical device that’s connected to your solar energy system. Its main purpose is to convert direct current (DC) electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity. This is necessary because the electricity that solar panels generate is not the same type of electricity that we use to power our homes.
Solar PV panels produce an electrical current called direct current (DC) electricity. However, the electric grid (and all the homes and buildings connected to it) use alternating current (AC) electricity, which means your solar system needs to convert the energy it captures into usable, AC electricity before it can be sent to your home or business. This job falls to the solar inverter. The DC electricity that’s generated by your solar panels is sent to your inverter, which converts it into AC electricity. Energy that’s stored in your solar batteries is also sent to your inverter before it can be used by your home.
AC vs. DC electricity
To provide a more technical explanation, we need to dive a little bit deeper into the behaviors of AC and DC electricity. DC electricity moves in one direction and maintains a constant voltage. AC electricity can change from positive to negative voltage and switches direction as it does so. To convert DC electricity into AC electricity, an inverter switches the flow of the DC input back and forth rapidly. This causes the DC electricity to behave like AC electricity and effectively transforms it.
But DC to AC conversion isn’t your solar panel inverter’s only function. Solar inverters also play a role in system monitoring and allow your solar energy system to communicate with computer networks.
Are There Different Types of Solar Inverters?
There are a few different types of solar inverters, the most common being string inverters and microinverters.
How Do String Inverters Work?
A string inverter connects to a set—or string—of solar panels and converts the electricity that’s generated by the entire string of panels. String inverters are cost-effective, but they have some downsides. If there is an issue with a single panel connected to a string inverter, such as shading or damage, the entire string is affected and power production is reduced.
How Do Microinverters Work?
Microinverters are a newer technology that’s quickly gaining popularity, especially in residential solar applications. Microinverters are small devices attached to individual panels. They convert power from each panel separately instead of sending it to one central inverter. This separation prevents issues with one panel from disrupting the entire system and allows each panel to be monitored individually.
Enphase Inverters for Maximum Energy Output
Here at Boston Solar, we install industry leading solar panels and products, which is why we primarily use Enphase inverters. These powerful microinverters maximize power from every panel and allow you to generate power constantly, even if one microinverter fails.
Enphase inverters are designed to withstand severe weather conditions and are recommended by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Plus, thanks to their modular design, Enphase microinverters make it easy to expand your solar array as your power needs grow and change.
Interested in solar energy for your home or business? Call Boston Solar at 617-858-1645 or contact us here to schedule a consultation.