There are various forms of energy available nowadays. Solar energy is becoming more popular as it is readily available. It is also renewable and environmentally friendly, thus playing a big role in reducing the effects of global warming. The sun delivers its energy in two main forms, namely heat energy and light energy. Consequently, there are two main types of solar power systems: solar photovoltaic systems that convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity and solar thermal systems that trap the sun’s heat.
Solar photovoltaic systems contain PV modules which, when exposed to sunlight generate direct current electricity. In order to make this form of electricity into a more usable form that can be used in off-grid and grid connections for both commercial and local setups, inverters are used.
An inverter is an electrical device used in photovoltaic modules that convert direct current into more usable alternating current electricity. When installing a photovoltaic system with the help of a certified and licensed installation company, there are various types of inverters to be considered. Before choosing a photovoltaic inverter, consider the following:
- Check for loose termination of cables and make sure they are tightened before purchase to avoid system dysfunction.
- Replace the inverter upon realization of abnormal operating temperatures
- Test the inverter and ask for replacement if it fails to function.
Solar panel inverters
This converts direct current of a photovoltaic solar panel into an alternating current for both commercial and home uses. A solar power inverter is attached to a dozen of solar panels, collects direct current from these panels and converts that current into alternating current. These types of inverters are most commonly used as they use Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT). This helps to get maximum power from the PV array. A PV array is formed by the parallel interconnection of PV strings.
Solar panel inverters are not entirely ideal as shadows of tree, dust or dirt on the panel may reduce the output of the whole array since they are connected to the same inverter. Therefore, they lack individual power panel optimization.
A solar panel micro inverter or simply a micro inverter is a device that converts direct current generated by a single solar module to alternating current. Unlike other solar inverters that connect to multiple solar modules, micro inverters are attached to a single module. This has its own advantage as the panels can attain single power panel optimization where shadowing of trees on one solar module does not affect the whole array and output of the system.
Micro inverters improve safety for those installing the system and the owners as they eliminate the need for high voltage direct current wiring which is potentially dangerous. These types of inverters are known to be silent workers compared to other types of inverters. They also emit less heat, hence less cooling is required. Longer periods of warranty also make using micro inverters ideal. The most significant disadvantage of micro inverters are the high costs involved in their installation and replacement.