Solar systems have risen in popularity thanks to the increased interest in renewable energy sources globally. Using sunlight to power an entire home or building is a great environmental plus and a great resource available naturally. When it comes to systems, they consist of many components, including a solar inverter and solar panels, to keep everything working properly.
A solar inverter is one of the most essential parts of a solar power system. It converts the energy output from the solar panels into a functional electricity form to be used in your workplace or home. It works by taking in the direct current from the solar panels and converting it into alternating 120V/240V current to power your home appliances.
Solar inverters are the main connection between the solar panels and the electrical distribution panel in the home. Some modern solar inverters have switches that can isolate or connect your solar energy system from the power grid and give detailed information to the system's monitoring equipment. This guide explains everything you need about the various solar inverter types.
Solar Inverter Types to Get to Know
Since solar inverters are quite handy, numerous options are available. Hence, we've listed the best solar inverter types to know about, selected based on the following factors:
Output Voltage: Since a solar inverter is mainly used for converting DC to AC current, the output voltage is important to check to avoid compatibility problems. Fortunately, numerous inverters have an output voltage rating of 110-120 volts for high compatibility.
Wattage Rating: Another important factor to check while purchasing a solar inverter is the wattage rating. This is because an inverter with a high rating, like 3000 watts, can handle more electrical appliances simultaneously compared to a smaller one with a 1500 watt inverter.
Output Ports: Apart from compatibility, ensure you can plug multiple devices simultaneously. As a result, checking the output ports given by the inverter is essential. With the following inverters, you can find multiple AC ports; others come with USB ports for ease of use.
Besides these key factors, you'll still need to check more details related to the inverters, such as their major options and features mentioned in the article. Let's look at the main solar inverter types to get to know them, as well as the pros and cons of each.
Pure Sine Wave
A pure sine wave inverter is an electrical device that converts DC to AC by converting the DC output into a pure sine wave output. Usually, pure sine wave outputs are ideal for sensitive equipment, CFL light bulbs, newer TVs, laser printers, and appliances with AC motors, such as refrigerators and microwaves.
Various ranges of pure sine wave inverters have varying capacities to fit your energy needs and solar installation. For instance, the Renogy 700-watt 12v pure sine wave inverter (pictured below) is a small device you can use to convert energy. It's affordable, especially for personal use, such as powering a laptop or a mobile phone, in emergencies, and when camping. It also has a USB port, an easy-to-read LED display showing operation status, and two AC outlets.
The 12 VDC input is ideal for all battery types and ventilation fans to keep things running safely and cool. It only requires 0.0096 kilowatt hours to power itself, making it very power efficient and economical in the short and long term. You can also purchase the Renogy 3000-watt 12V pure sine wave inverter to get more power while remaining portable and compact.
Split Phase Sine Wave
A split-phase solar inverter allows for both single-phase and split-phase power. The inverter can split the power output from the solar panels into two different phases by combining them to form a split-phase power supply. Usually, it has two 120-volt circuits that are 180- degrees out of phase with each other. This configuration allows for using 240-volt appliances such as electric dryers, ranges, and air conditioners.
It can be used in residential solar power systems where the power output from the solar panels needs to convert to the appropriate phase and voltage for use in the home. It allows people to use their solar energy to power their homes and feed the surplus energy back into the electrical grid.
It's preferred because it can significantly lower the energy bills of businesses and homes. You can avoid the high costs linked to traditional energy sources by using solar energy to power electronics and appliances. The split-phase solar inverter also allows for more efficient use of solar power as it splits the power output into two separate circuits maximizing the energy produced by the solar panels.
This implies that you can get the most out of your solar power system, even during periods of low sunlight or cloudy days. For instance, you can purchase the SUNGOLDPOWER 6000W 480V Split Phase Pure Sine Wave Hybrid Solar Inverter (pictured above)with monitoring cables to power your home or business. It has an extra convenient built-in WIFI transmitter to monitor Androids or iPhones.
A hybrid solar inverter combines a solar inverter and a battery inverter into one piece of equipment to intelligently manage power from your solar batteries, solar panels, and the utility grid simultaneously. It is a modern piece that provides solutions for homeowners looking to install a solar power system with room for future upgrades, such as a battery storage system.
The conventional solar grid-tie inverter converts the DC produced by the solar system into AC to power your home or business while allowing the surplus electricity generation to be transferred back to the utility grid. The battery inverter inverts the electricity stored in the solar battery storage into an AC that can be used in your home or business.
By combining these functions into one system, the solar hybrid grid-tie inverter improves and streamlines the operations of the classic solar inverter. In addition, since the solar power amount available depends on seasonality and weather, a hybrid inverter can draw power from the electricity grid to charge the battery storage system if needed. A perfect example is the Rich Solar 6500W 48V Off-grid Hybrid Solar Inverter that can power your home and business for days.
Pros and Cons of These Solar Inverter Types
Pure Sine Wave
The main advantage of using a Pure Sine Wave inverter is that it costs less money upfront. For instance, a modified wave inverter usually costs between $50 and $600, while pure inverters cost $150-1000.
Pro: Compact and Portable
A pure sine wave inverter is compact and portable, meaning you can use it on the go, during emergencies, and when camping.
Con: Lower efficiency
Motors, such as pumps, fans, and refrigerators, usually use more power from the inverter because of the lower efficiency. Most motors will use approximately 20% more power because they'll run hotter, making them less durable.
Con: Not compatible with many appliances
As previously stated, modified wave inverters don't work well with appliances with AC motors, medical equipment, and other sensitive appliances. For example, when used with light bulbs, the bulbs may not glow as brightly or may produce a hum. Likewise, laptops may see a shortened lifespan when used with these inverters.
Split Phase Sine Wave
Pro: Power distribution
Split-phase inverters provide power distribution common in many commercial and residential applications. The two-phase circuits give 120V AC power and can be used to power various devices and appliances in the building. The split-phase inverter is ideal for homes and businesses where 120V circuits are common.
Pro: Improved efficiency
Split-phase inverters increase efficiency by splitting the power output into two different circuits. This allows the inverter to maximize the produced energy by the solar panels, resulting in more efficient energy production.
Pro: Cost Savings
Split-phase inverters can help reduce costs by reducing energy bills. Utilizing solar energy to power homes, businesses, and devices can prevent the high costs linked to traditional energy sources.
Pro: Durability and Reliability
These inverters can withstand harsh weather conditions, making them reliable and durable. This implies they can provide reliable and stable power to businesses and homes, even during challenging weather.
Pro: Easy Installation
Split-phase inverters are easy to install and incorporate into existing electrical systems. This makes it easy to switch to solar power and leverage the benefits of renewable energy.
Con: Less torqueMotors have less starting torque, making them unsuitable for above 1 KW
Con: Potential for Overheating
An unbalanced load can cause the winding to overheat if it's excessive
Hybrid Solar Inverter Types
Pro: Power regulation
Solar power can fluctuate with the changing weather patterns. A hybrid inverter regulates solar power to ensure the system operates within the correct parameters.
Pro: Power monitoring
Solar hybrid grid-tied inverters can be fitted with solar power monitoring software to monitor and measure the solar system via a connected smartphone application or a display screen to help identify any faults.
Pro: Power maximization
Hybrid inverters fitted with Maximum Power Point Trackers (MPPT) check the solar power output, correlating it to the battery’s voltage. This allows for maximum power output and conversion of DC electricity to the best voltage for the battery’s maximum charge. The MPPT ensures the solar system works efficiently under every condition, such as electrical loads, solar panel temperature, and varying amounts of solar light.
Cons: Lacks a grid isolation device
The main disadvantage of a hybrid inverter is that it lacks a grid isolation device. This means that it cannot power the household during a blackout. It is, therefore, helpful if the grid supply is stable.
Cons: Short battery life
Since the batteries linked to the system are often exposed to rain, cold, or heat, the system’s lifespan is often reduced.
Cons: Costly initial installation costs
While it requires minimal maintenance, the initial cost for a hybrid solar inverter is higher than the solar systems alone.
A solar inverter works by taking in the direct current from the solar panels and converting it into alternating 120V/240V current to power your home appliances. Depending on your specific requirements, there are different solar inverter types to choose from. You can browse Solar Paradise's collection of Solar Inverters to find the one that suits your needs. You can always contact the Solar Paradise Customer Support team with any questions. We'll be happy to help.