Solar Panel Inverters: Turning Solar Power into Useable Energy

The use of solar power for energy would be useless with solar panel inverters. They take the direct current output of photovoltaic solar panels and convert it to a frequency alternating current that can be used to in a regular electrical network capable of powering everyday appliances and electronics. Solar inverters function specially for use with photovoltaic arrays.

They are the next stop after the solar panels in the cycle of harnessing the sun’s energy. Inverters are generally classified into three separate types, stand-alone inverters, synchronous inverters and multifunction inverters. They also come in various sizes, from micro inverters to industrial grid-tied inverters.

Stand-alone solar panel inverters are used for residential or RV applications that are off the grid where no other power is available. They require the use of solar panel batteries as a place to contain the recently converted energy, making them independent of a utility grid.

They are responsible for converting renewable energy from solar panels and wind turbines into alternating current and sending that energy to the batteries to be used at any time needed. Synchronous inverters convert solar energy into alternating current and feed it into an existing electrical grid. This allows eliminates the need for solar panel batteries if desired and provides the ability to use electricity when the solar power is insufficient.

Synchronous inverters effectively use a power company as a storage battery, but if a power outage occurs the energy is only accessible once the power is restored. Excess power created by the solar panels can be sold back to the utility company at the same rate a customer pays. Multifunction inverters can act as both a stand-alone inverter and a synchronous inverter but are the most expensive of the three.

Most solar panel inverters make use of maximum power point tracking, which is designed to get the most power possible out of photovoltaic array. Maximum power point tracking helps a solar energy system to achieve the maximum amount of clean usable energy that the solar panels absorb. This helps any homeowner get the most out of an efficient solar energy system.

Another function that all synchronous and multifunction solar panel inverters are required to have is anti-islanding protection. When a power outage occurs these inverters will continue to supply power to small sections of a grid, which are often called “islands”, posing a risk to any utility worker who may be working on that particular section. Anti-islanding protection will cause an inverter to shut down after a power outage stopping the flow of energy to the grid. With all of the options available, choosing the right inverter can be a difficult choice.

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