A solar energy inverter, also known as a photovoltaic inverter, is an essential component to any solar energy system. This device converts the variable DC output of the solar array into AC current which your home uses. This current can be used in a local off-grid network or interchangeably with a grid connection.
Grid tie inverters – are used to convert DC energy into alternating energy used to power businesses and homes. Once loss of utility supply occurs, grid tie inverters shut down automatically for safety reasons and do not provide backup during power outages.
Battery back-up inverters – special inverters designed to draw energy from a battery and export excess energy to the utility grid. These inverters can supply AC energy during a utility outage, and are required to have anti-islanding protection.
Solar micro inverters – convert DC energy from a single panel the AC energy. The energy from all of these panels can be combined and sent to the specific consuming devices. This allows for each inverter to separately monitor its own panel. This makes it easier to add components to the system rather than add one panel and changing the characteristics of the whole system.
Stand-alone inverters – normally used in isolated systems, stand-alone inverters draw DC energy from batteries that are powered by a solar array. Typically, these inverters are not tied into a system and don’t require anti-islanding protection.
Anti-islanding – the process that prevents circuits from remaining powered after all power is cut off from the grid source.
How do I know I am getting maximum production from my system?
Maximum power point tracking is a technique that is used by inverters to get the maximum output from the photovoltaic array. The inverters will sample the output of the photovoltaic array and apply a resistance load to obtain the maximum power for any specific environmental conditions in order to achieve maximum possible power.
Post written by: David Zamostny, Solar Energy World Intern