If you’re about to install a solar power system into your home, or if you already have one but you’re no great technical brain, then you’ll have heard of inverters but you might have no idea what they do.
Your inverter is king of the solar system
Or at least, it’s the brains. It’s important for you to understand your inverter and how it works if you’re to get the best from your system.
Bringing solar power into your home isn’t as simple as installing the panels and then leaving them to it. Something has to manage the power coming in, to keep it at a constant level and to keep an eye on it. This job goes to your inverter.
The basic inverter is the string inverter, so let’s take a look at this type to start with, especially as the string inverter is the most common inverter for domestic set-ups.
What your inverter looks like
It’s a box, essentially. You’ll find it somewhere where it’s easily accessible – inside your house or your garage space – rather than up on the roof with the panels. From here, it performs three vital functions.
It converts direct current (DC) coming from the panels into alternating current (AC) which is the electricity that the grid – and therefore our homes – use.
Your inverter also monitors and brings together the power coming from all of your panels. There’s a lot coming in at once and only rarely is each panel’s output equal to its colleagues’ output, so your inverter aggregates it all and modifies it so your supply is constant and optimised. To do this it has to perform lots of fancy algorithms that you really don’t want to have to think too hard about…
All you need to know is that your inverter does all the maths stuff for you and then tells you what you need to know in the form of some easy readings. These readings will be on a display or on an online portal and it’s important to keep an eye on them because if there’s a sudden unexpected dip then you may have a problem.
Thirdly, your inverter makes sure than its two other functions are performed safely, which is the most important thing.