Inverters are complex yet essential components needed by every independent solar PV system. This is because they convert Direct current (DC) into Alternating current (AC). Suppose you have no idea why inverters have to convert current. You are in the right place. Later in this guide, we will explain what inverters do and why they are essential.
For now, we will concentrate on the difference between solar inverters and standard inverters. Can you use it as a regular inverter if you already have a solar inverter installed in your home system?
If you have little knowledge about inverters, you can make solar inverters work for you. You don’t need to know the internal functioning of an inverter. You, however, need to understand how to size inverters according to your load and panels.
This article will discuss all inverters and why you need to have at least little knowledge about them to enjoy free renewable solar energy. Don’t go anywhere.
Can we use a solar inverter as a standard inverter?
A typical inverter, also known as a standard inverter, is the type of inverter connected to a stand-alone solar PV system. It converts DC into AC used by appliances. On the other hand, a solar inverter is what is known as a hybrid inverter. It combines several inverters to produce the most powerful device for your solar PV system.
Both solar inverters and standard inverters perform the same function. However, a solar inverter has more advantages compared to a traditional inverter. This is why it is the most recommended type of inverter. Keep reading if you want to know why you should replace a standard inverter with a solar inverter.
A typical inverter is usually connected to a solar panel, a charge controller, and a solar battery. When the solar panel collects sunlight energy, the inverter converts Direct current into AC stored in the battery to power appliances. A charge controller, in this case, will ensure the solar battery is sufficiently charged. What makes a normal inverter different from a solar inverter?
A solar inverter is designed so that all the devices used to power a solar system are found in one device. A solar inverter has an inbuilt power backup, a charge controller, and the inverter. You need to connect the inverter box from the solar panel to the grid. Interestingly, you can also use a solar inverter without a solar panel.
If you connect your inverter to your home system, you can use it to power your home without any other additional devices. A solar inverter has all it takes.
What is the role of a solar inverter?
If you have seen the term inverter and don’t know what it is, you are in the right place.
An inverter typically converts DC into AC. This means that a solar panel sends current to the battery in one direction. This direct current is generally rated 12V, 24V, and 48V.
Most appliances run with voltage 120V-240V. An inverter converts the current sent in one direction into different pieces with different voltages.
A charge controller is needed to make sure the solar battery does not overcharge or over-discharge. It controls the current reaching the solar battery. If the solar battery is complete, the charge controller stops any current from going to the battery.
If the sunlight energy is insufficient, the charge controller holds some charge, stopping any charge from leaving the battery until more current is sent from the solar panel.
A single solar inverter can perform all the functions named above. You can therefore connect a solar inverter directly to the home grid.
Can I charge the normal battery with a solar inverter?
A solar inverter can charge a normal battery if it is paired with a powerful solar panel.
Standard batteries have a capacity of 12V and a current of about 50Ah. On the other hand, a solar inverter is rated 12V and 150Ah.
Therefore, you can connect a solar inverter to a battery and charge it provided the solar panel is in the proper condition.
How to convert normal inverter to solar inverter
From the information provided in this guide, you can tell how standard inverters and solar inverters work.
A solar inverter has inbuilt charge controllers and solar battery backup. At the same time, a normal inverter needs to be connected to the other components to work perfectly. Below is the procedure to convert a standard inverter into a solar inverter.
Step 1: Selection of solar batteries
Standard inverters use 12V 50Ah solar batteries. This can power devices for an extended period without suffering a power outage.
Keep in mind the time you want your batteries to last and the discharge rate. Most solar batteries are rated using a c rating.
Solar batteries are rated as 5c, 10c, and 20C. The best solar batteries for your system should have a 20C.
Step 2: Select a charge controller
A charge controller is an essential component of a home system. There are various types of charge controllers available. Most solar inverters work best when paired with an MPPT or PWM charge controller.
Ensure the voltage of the solar battery is the same as that of the charge controller. The amperes of the charge controller should be equal to that of the solar battery.
Step 3: Solar panel selection
Solar panel selection is one of the essential steps when converting standard inverters into solar inverters.
When choosing solar panels, you should ensure the solar panel’s voltage is compatible with that of the existing inverters.
Most solar panels are rated 12-24V and 10W-440W. If you are using a PMW charge controller and a 12V solar battery, you should use a solar panel with the same rating. There are no restrictions when using MPPT charge controllers.
Step 4: Connection
Connecting a charge controller to a solar panel and a solar battery is not complicated. However, you might have more issues with your solar PV system if done wrongly. Follow this video to learn the step-by-step connection of the inverters.
With the latest need for electrical energy, solar PV systems are slowly replacing electricity. To utilize renewable energy, you need to have some supportive components such as inverters.
Inverters used in solar PV systems have evolved. The latest innovation is hybrid inverters or solar inverters. These inverters are so powerful in a way they can power your home without the need to use other devices such as charge controllers and solar batteries.
In the guide above, I have given you essential steps you can follow to convert regular inverters to solar inverters.
Eng. Matthew Joseph Nandirio is the Founder of walkingsolar.
After graduating from the University of Houston in 2002, matt started working as an electrical and electronic engineer for several multi-national solar energy companies.
He has a wide range of experiences including solar system requirement analysis, planning, maintaining, debugging and even solar device development through research.
He now shares his 20 years of expertise through his articles on the walkingsolar website.
Further, he is also the author of two books on Solar Technology, “Solar Power for Villages” and “DIY Solar System for Dummies”.