How to maintain your solar inverter?


Solar inverters take in DC and output AC. As it is the norm in the market, no unit is 100% efficient. Thus, these units’ inputs and outputs are not equal. According to solar facts, their efficiency range from 50% to 90%.

However, it is imperative to note that multiple factors affect their efficiency and decrease as time goes. That is why you should maintain the inverters well, to improve their efficiency. Also, if these tools are mishandled, they may pose risks to the user.

News flash! You don’t have to worry, for we have discussed some solar inverter maintenance tips in detail.  The best part is that we have given you tips to fix some of the daily invert issues. 

Do inverters need maintenance?

Before we dive any deeper, let me clear out this hoax first. It shocks that most people still debate if they should be keen when maintaining an inverter. Well, I understand its small size in comparison to the other parts of the systems. But have a look at this…

When the big-sized solar panel receives the UV and converts them to electric energy, it must be passed through an inverter. Thus, if it is faulty, the entire process stops there. At that point, you can call your solar system dead. 

Apart from that, an inverter consists of metallic parts that are prone to corrosion. For instance, when the battery terminals are exposed to a moist environment, they will corrode. Consequently, they will not recharge correctly.

However, the most dangerous part is that the users are exposed to numerous risks. One of them is electric shocks. Allow me to explain 

The human body is considered a good conductor of electricity and with a resistance of approximately 100Kilo Ohm. Consequently, when exposed to a voltage, the current flow in the body, which results in an electric shock. Lest you take it lightly, electric shocks effects are very severe such as causing severe burn or even an immediate cardiac arrest.

The below table shows some of the severe effects of electric shocks depending on the current level.

The current level, mAThe probable effect of electric shock on the human body
1mASlight tingling sensation
5mAThis leads to slight injuries
6mA-16mAPoor muscle control and severe pains.
17mA-99mASevere pain from severe muscle contractions, respiratory arrest.
100mA-2000mADeath is likely or uncoordinated blood pumping by the heart.
>2,000mADeath, severe burns, cardiac arrest.

In few words, you must maintain an inverter to prevent risks and ensure that it operates correctly.

Top 7 ways to keep your solar inverter

Having made it clear that you should maintain the inverter, it is time we discuss some of the ways to keep your solar inverter.

  1. Perform correct wiring

The wiring process of the inverter should be done correctly according to the National electrical code. NEC lays out guidelines on how electrical tools should be connected. Thus, it would be wise to ensure that the wiring of the inverter follows the NEC guidelines.

  1. Installation environment

If you do not choose the installation environment well, you will expose the inverter to numerous risks, certainly shortening its lifespan.

Which is the right environment to install an inverter?
First, you should do it indoors, in a cool and well-ventilated room. Secondly, the inverter should not obstruct the cooling fans to prevent them from overheating, which would result in fire accidents.

Additionally, the room should have continuously proper ventilation with appropriate levels of moisture and far from liquids.

  1. Avoid flammable gases

Some of the electric units may produce sparks, and an inverter is one of them. Hence, it would help if you kept it far from anything that would cause a fire accident at every cost. For instance, you should keep it far from flammable gases, which would accelerate the sparks to fire flames.

  1. Maintain the battery

Further, some of the solar inverters use batteries which also need maintenance. Be warned; there are multiple risks associated with batteries, such s shocks, fire accidents, to mention a few.

To maintain a battery, first, you should ensure that the battery compartment is well ventilated according to the manufacturer’s guidelines. Let me explain why. While charging, the battery produces hydrogen and oxygen gases. These gases need good circulation to prevent them from building up, affecting the functioning of the battery.

Apart from that, it would help if you were very careful when handling the battery. You should remove any bracelets, rings, watches, or anything else that is metallic. Why? These power sources can produce a short circuit current capable of welding a light metal resulting in fire burns.

  1. Avoid input over-voltage

Inverters have a maximum voltage that they can effectively handle. That explains why several solar inverters are suitable for residential units while others are recommended for commercial units. As you can quickly tell, a solar inverter crafted for a small unit used in a residential house cannot be used for the large-scale current conversion as needed in the commercial units.

Consequently, you should not think of interchanging the inverters. Similarly, when replacing the solar inverters, you should ensure you get the correct type for the solar system. To summarize everything, the input voltage should not exceed the recommended DC input voltage from the solar panel.

  1. Avoid direct outputs

Connecting the AC output of the inverter directly to the electric panel results in a parallel operation. This operation on different power sources may cause the AC power to be fed back to the unit, damaging the output section.

Therefore, you should avoid connecting the ac output of an inverter directly to the electrical breaker panel.

  1. Replace the parts

I will be frank with you, just like other items, solar inverter components have limited lifespans. Thus, you will need to replace them after depleting their lifespan or maybe when they are faulty.

The point is that you should order the correct replacement parts, advisably from the manufacturer. You should also ensure that you remove the faulty parts correctly without causing further damage.

What’s the lifespan of an inverter?

Solar inverters have a lifespan of approximately ten years. However, some of the manufacturers of micro-inverters claim that they can live up to 25 years which is not yet tested.

However, several factors may decrease the lifespan of the inverters. For instance, high humidity levels and temperatures will cause them to depreciate sooner than later.

How do I fix my inverter?

Even after looking at the maintenance tips of the inverters, we cannot give a blind eye to the day-to-day issues you might face while maintaining these units. Some of these issues include;

  • A blown a fuse when using a permanent terminal
  • Discharged battery
  • A faulty switch may prevent the inverter from powering on
  • Corroded terminal due to the moisture and hydrogen produced when recharging

Well, identifying the problem and not solving it doesn’t help at all. Thus, let’s look at the possible hacks that will help fix your inverter.

  1. Check for a faulty switch.

If your power inverter cannot start even after pushing the switch, you should check if the switch is faulty. To do that, unplug the inverter and change the power source. If it can’t start yet, that means you will have to replace the switch. If you are not acquainted with the necessary skills, you will have to hire a professional electrician to fix it.

  1. Check the battery connection.

As we earlier said, any electrical connection should follow the national electrical codes. Hence, if the inverter can’t start, maybe the power is not flowing from the battery. Thus you should look at the battery connections and ensure that it is done well.

  1. Replace faulty battery

At times the problem might not be the inverter but the battery. Thus, if you have used the battery for some time, likely it has awakened and needs to be replaced. Therefore you should order a replacement from the manufacturer.

  1. Diagnose the inverter

If the switch is working correctly and the battery system is fine, the inverter has some issues.  To help you easily trace the problem, you should have a diagram of the inverter likely from the manual. Then, look at all the connection points of the inverter, comparing them to the diagram. Also, you can use a voltmeter to check if the current is flowing well.

Final words

An inverter is a power tool. Thus, if its safety is not observed, it will result in a faulty solar system and compromise the user’s safety. Nonetheless, we can’t guarantee that maintaining this device is the easiest thing in the world. That’s where we jump in.

Inverters are devices that invert direct current to alternating current, which can be used on power equipment. These tools are prone to electrical shocks, blown fuses, corrosion, only to mention a few of their problems. Fortunately, we have discussed inverter maintenance to help prevent these issues and suggested some mechanisms to repair the inverter.

Matt

I’m Matt, a computer and electronic embedded system developer. Currently, working as an electronic engineer. In my leisure time, I do love to blog about technology stuff. Specially, new advance high tech devices. Portable solar systems are one of topic that I love to investigate. They are becoming more powerful day by day which keep me alert.

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