How Solar Inverters Work

Solar inverters are extremely important in the conversion to solar energy, which is fairly easy to do. You can choose a solar kit or create your own kit. Many individuals believe solar panels are the single most important piece of working with solar energy, but this is not true. The parts required to collect solar energy are all integral and tightly work together.

Solar inverters convert the direct current (DC) that is collected from the sun’s rays into alternating current (AC), which is used with all household electronics.

There are several simple varieties of electrical inverters. In one of the simpler circuits, the DC power is connected to a transformer. A switch is then rapidly turned to allow current to flow back and forth to the DC source, which then follows two alternate paths through one end of the primary winding and then the other. This creates an alternating circuit.

There is also an electromechanical version of the switching device. Two stationary pieces work with a spring to provide support. The spring holds the contact against one of the stationary contacts. This allows the current to be interrupted by the movement of the switch, which creates vibrating as it moves back and forth. This alternates the current.

There are three basic types of solar inverters. Each is used for different types of solar energy, such as being on-grid or off-grid. Some include anti-islanding protection. All three can be easily removed and replaced, if your energy plans change.

Stand-alone inverters are used for isolated locations, such as boats, cabins, etc. This inverter draws the direct current energy from batteries and other sources such as wind turbines, hydro turbines, and engine generators. The stand-alone inverter often incorporates battery chargers which help to recharge the battery from the alternating current source. Stand-alone inverters are often off-grid, which means they don’t require anti-islanding protection.

Grid-tie inverters complement grid power energy with solar energy. The inverter ensures that the energy received from the solar collectors will phase in with the energy from the utility grid. This makes it possible to reverse the power and sell excess energy back to the utility company. Grid-tie inverters do not supply energy in the event of a power outage.

Battery backup inverters draw energy from a battery. They are capable of providing energy in the event of a power outage, and because of this they require anti-islanding protection.

Anti-islanding protection can be an important part of using a solar inverter. When there is a power outage with the utility company, the circuits sometimes still send out resonating currents, which solar inverters can confuse with regular currents. The inverter will continue to work because of this confusion, which can be dangerous for utility workers who believe the power to be off. Anti-islanding protection injects a pulse into the current that offsets the resonation. This will turn off the solar inverter.