By: N. Olison - PVPower.com Contributor - August 13, 2009
- Inverters change DC to AC, the electrical current that can be used in the home
- Off-grid inverters are used in situations when the home is completely independent from the utility grid, and the AC charges batteries
- Grid-tied inverters are used in homes that are tied to the utility grid
Solar inverters are a critical component to any solar power system. Inverters change the direct current (DC) produced by generators and solar panels into the useable alternating current (AC) needed to run a home. There are a few different options when using solar inverters. There are grid-tied inverters and there are off-grid inverters.
Off-grid inverters operate completely separate from the utility grid. In an off grid system, the energy goes from the solar panels and gets stored in batteries. An off-grid inverter changes the current from the batteries into useable current. Off-grid inverters can also be made for portable use, while grid-tied inverters cannot.
Click Here to Read "How to Determine the Right Grid Tie Solar Inverter"
Grid-tied inverters are inverters that connect to the utility grid. They can act more as a supplement this way. This is good for just taking down the electric bill, or for selling back extra energy to the company (net metering). Some Grid-tied inverters also use batteries. This method is used to provide backup power for a home during power outages on the utility grid.
The outcome of a renewable energy system relies a lot on the inverter. The inverter’s responsible for transforming the DC to AC and getting it to the loads. Loads are the appliances being powered by the system. A good inverter needs to be able to deliver clean energy without overheating or shutting down. When selecting a solar inverter for your system you'll need to take into account how much power you're looking to generate, the size of the building, energy use changes through time and the type of solar panels used in the system. Also, inverters have to match the voltage of energy system. Usually it’s either 24 or 48 volts. Read more about both off-grid and grid-tied inverters and how to choose the best one for you.
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