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> Learning Center > Off-Grid Inverters - An Overview

Off-Grid Inverters - An Overview

By: N. Olison - PVPower.com Contributor - August 13, 2009

Article Highlights:

  • Off-Grid Inverters transform DC into AC, recharging batteries that drive the off-grid system
  • Off-Grid inverters are a necessary component for home, RV and cabin systems, not tied to the utility grid
  • These inverters sometimes work with generators to power batteries within a system

Off-grid photovoltaic (PV) systems are purely run from solar power and independent of the power grid. These systems require batteries to store electricity. An off-grid inverter charges the batteries and transforms the direct current (DC) from the batteries to the alternating current (AC) that powers electronic devices. Off-grid inverters are often times used to handle smaller jobs. There are portable off-grid inverters to help power RVs and boats. They’re also a popular choice for cottages and other out-of-the way locales.

Xantrex Inverters and SMA Sunny Island Inverters SMA Sunny Island Inverter Xantrex Off Grid Inverter Off Grid Inverters

Since off-grid PV systems are solely responsible for all the electricity in the house, it is common to see pure sine inverters instead of modified sine inverters. Modified sine inverters are much cheaper but they can cause a hassle when you’re trying to run appliances in your house. Because the quality of electricity is so bad, a lot the loads either won’t turn on or won’t work to their fullest potential. A modified sine wave inverter would be more suitable for a small cabin that doesn’t have a lot of heavy duty electrical appliances.

Off-grid inverters always work in a system that uses batteries, but sometimes they work with generators too. Some inverters can charge the batteries with the extra energy from a generator. This comes in handy during overcast days. Because the generator power can be used to run the loads while simultaneously charging the batteries in the absence of sun light. People who live with off-grid PV systems generally take advantage of the generator because it’s a nice option. However, depending on how much energy it takes to run your home, it may not be worth it.

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