The Role of Inverters in Solar Energy Systems

Before installing a solar photovoltaic (PV) system at your home orbusiness, it’s important to know as much as you can about how the system actually works. This way, when you get solar home energy quotes, you’ll know exactly what they’re talking about and won’t drown in a sea offoreign vocabulary.

So today we’re going to delve into one of the most important piecesof your solar energy system: the inverter. The solar energy that your PV solar panels generate is direct current (DC), meaning it flows in asingle direction. The inverter converts the electricity into alternating current (AC), so that the it can flow back and forth and feedelectricity to different areas of your home.

solar energy inverter
Conventional inverter

The solar PV energy system atop your home or business likely features several PV solar panels wired together in series in a single row, ormultiple rows depending on the size of your solar energy system.Conventionally, the PV solar panels have to be wired together so thatall of the electricity that the PV panels produce is fed into a singleinverter.

But there is a new type of inverter that changes the rules of thegame: the microinverter. Microinverters are installed on each individual panel. So each panel produces AC power on its own. As a result, thesolar PV panels don’t have to be wired together to flow energy to asingle inverter.

Solar Energy Micro Inverter

Today, microinverters are not as common for solar energy homeinstallations because they haven’t been around as long as conventionalinverters. Panels equipped with microinverters cost a bit more, too, but they may generate more AC output per panel than a system with aconventional inverter.

If you’re interested in PV panels with micro inverters, talk to yourinstaller about it before choosing a system. And be sure to check outthis podcast courtesy of Renewable Energy World in which solar industry professionals debate which type of inverter is best to use. Also interesting is this 2009 article from MIT’s Technology Review.

What Does an Inverter Do for My Solar Energy System?


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