Take a Sec... Share with your Friends!!

In the last two articles in the Solar Energy Primer we discussed how to reduce energy consumption and Solar Panels.  In this article we will discuss DC to AC Inverters and the different models on the market.

The AC inverter is the heart of your Renewable Energy Systems Power Panel.  Unless you want to revert back to really old school where the only off-grid options where a battery bank and 12volt RV appliances, it is necessary to have an AC Inverter.  The basic function of an Inverter is to take input DC voltage (VDC) and convert it to AC voltage (VAC).  It's secondary function is to charge a battery bank should you chose to have one.  Most grid tie systems don't have a battery bank, but could have one for backup power supply.  If you are off-grid, a battery bank is a requirement.  During times of none sufficient power supply from your renewable energy systems, the inverter will convert DC power from the battery bank to AC power for your home appliances.

Electricity can be viewed as a Sine Wave, which is a mathematical function that can be viewed as a graph.  You can search the Internet for more information, but for our purpose think of Sine Waves as the purity of the electricity provided by your inverter to your appliances.

There are 4 types of Inverters:

  • Square Wave Power Inverter - These are very inexpensive and not to be used for home systems.  Usually in the under 500W range, you will see these inverter types used in cars and boats and plug into a cigarette lighter.
  • Modified Sine Wave Power Inverter - One of the most popular inverters due to its economic price, it produces and AC wave form somewhere between Square Wave and Pure Sine Wave.  These inverters are sometimes called Quasi-Sine are less expensive and work with most AC appliances.  Some appliances without a regulator will cause a buzzing sound and some appliances such as motors that use speed controls or timers will not function with these inverters.  Modified Sine Wave Inverters are recommended for small cottage use or boats, but not your average home use.
  • True Sine Wave Power Inverter - These inverters produce the cleanest power and work best with all AC powered appliances in your home.  Although True Sine Inverters are more expensive, it is worth every penny.  After spending your hard earned money on producing your energy via Solar, Wind or Mini-Hydro, the last thing you want is to then lose it and/or produce "dirty" power.  True Sine Wave Inverters are now very affordable and are really the only way to go for off-grid home AC inverter use.
  • Grid Tie Power Inverters- If you are already connected to the Utility, you can stay that way with a Grid Tie Inverter and use the Utility as your backup power.  As an added bonus, most Utilities now provide "net-metering" which allows you to sell your extra power to them.  This in effect means during peak producing hours, and after your optional battery banks have been charges, you will sell your extra power back to the Utility actually spining your meter backwards.  The Grid Tie Inverters are True Sine Wave Inverters with a added function of sensing your power consumption and synchronizing with the Utility to sell it and push to the grid.  It also has a safety feature to sense power failure from the grid and if so, cease pushing electricity.  This is a safety feature for Utility workers to ensure no home electricity is powering the grid while the workers are repairing the issue.

When configuring your Renewable Energy System keep in mind that all your DC components such as Solar Panel array, Battery Bank and Inverters all need to run on the same voltage.  In followup articles we will discuss wiring run length and gauge.  These are all tied into selecting the proper VDC for your system.

You may be wondering what to do with your heavy usage appliances like stove and dryer?  Well you can compatible inverters in series to double the ouput voltage.  You would use this technique to produce 220-240 volts required for these heavy appliances.  You can also configure them in parallel to double your power.  We will cover these topics in much more details in later follow-up articles in Solar Power Primer series so stay tuned!

Keep it Green...

No TweetBacks yet. (Be the first to Tweet this post)

Tagged with:

Filed under: Renewable EnergySolar Power

Like this post? Subscribe to my RSS feed and get loads more!

Possibly related posts