If you’re considering converting to solar energy, you’re not alone. Hundreds of thousands of homeowners have switched over the past decade. From environmental benefits to cost-saving perks, it’s no surprise that solar energy is so popular.
When researching solar systems, you’ve probably come across many industry terms. One of these might be “solar inverter.” But what exactly does it do? In short, a solar inverter is a vital piece of equipment that transforms the sun’s energy into usable electricity for your home.
To help explain this process, let’s review:
- How solar energy is converted to electricity
- What a solar inverter does
- Why you need the right-sized inverter
To reap the highest return on your solar investment, it’s crucial that you install the right sized inverter for your home. Keep reading to learn more about this less frequently discussed topic and why you need one to go solar.
Are you interested in solar energy? Contact Photon Brothers!
Call us at (720) 370‑3344 (Colorado) or (805) 351‑3371 (California) for a FREE custom solar estimate today. Our licensed electricians have 10+ years of experience in connecting homeowners with high-quality, custom solar systems tailored to their unique needs. We also have a perfect safety record and an unmatched 25-year production guarantee!
How Solar Energy Is Converted to Electricity
Before we examine what solar inverters are, it’s important to understand how solar systems work in the first place. A standard solar system is made up of photovoltaic (PV) panels. Most PV panels consist of silicon, a semiconductor material that helps create an electric current. When particles of sunlight (or photons) hit the panels, one of the following effects occurs:
- The particle reflects off the cell
- The particle passes through
- The particle is absorbed by the cell
Absorbed photons interact with the semiconductor material (or silicon) by knocking off atoms, which generates electricity. More specifically, they create a direct current.
DC to AC Power
It’s common knowledge that solar panels generate electricity. However, many people don’t realize that this electricity isn’t compatible with your home. In the United States, the electricity that powers our homes and flows out of sockets is called alternating current (AC) power. Solar systems, however, create direct current (DC) power.
The main difference between AC and DC power is the direction of the current. DC power flows in one direction, while AC power switches directions. To enjoy solar energy, you must first convert your system’s DC power to AC power. That’s where solar inverters come in.
What a Solar Inverter Does
Solar inverters turn the DC power solar panels generate into the AC power your home needs. They do this by running the DC power through a “transformer,” which essentially forces the current to imitate AC power. There are five main types of solar inverters:
- Battery inverters: Made up of a battery, this inverter type can be fitted into your solar system even after it has been installed. It connects to your switchboWhy You Need the Right-Sized Inverterard, enabling it to power your devices.
- String inverters: Commonly used for residential purposes, string inverters are connected to a string of solar panels. These panels work together and are as strong as the weakest-performing panel.
- Central inverters: These inverters support hundreds of kilowatts and are generally used by commercial businesses.
- Microinverters: As the name suggests, these inverters are very small. They’re connected to the back of each individual solar panel.
- Hybrid inverter: In addition to transforming DC power to AC power, these inverters can turn AC power into DC power (letting you store energy in your batteries).
Most homes rely on batteries, string, or microinverters. No matter which type you use, having the right size is important.
Why You Need the Right-Sized Inverter
There are three possible outcomes when choosing an inverter:
- It’s oversized
- It’s undersized
- It’s correctly sized
The worst possible result is an undersized inverter. When the solar inverter is too small, the extra DC power is simply “clipped off,” meaning lots of energy is wasted. If it’s oversized, on the other hand, you’ll end up spending more money on an inverter you don’t need. The only time it makes sense to get an oversized inverter is if you plan on expanding your solar system in the near future.
Ideally, you want a solar inverter that’s correctly sized for your system because inverters function best when operating near their maximum capacity. In other words, inverters are most efficient when they match the needs of your solar system. For example, a solar energy system that’s six kilowatts should be paired with a 6,000-watt inverter. To determine the right size, you must check the DC rating of your solar system.
Do you need help determining which solar inverter is right for your needs? Photon Brothers can help. After examining your roof, energy requirements, and budget preferences, we can craft a custom solar system designed specifically for your needs. And, because we only use advanced solar technology, you can trust that the final result will be high-quality. Our top-notch solar systems are paired with elated-efficiency inverters, helping reduce long-term costs and fulfill your energy needs for years to come.
In need of solar experts? Contact Photon Brothers today!
If you’re interested in solar energy, the Photon Brothers team is here to help. After reviewing your home, budget, and energy preferences, we’ll design a custom system to meet all of your needs, including help with finding solar lenders, tax credits, and rebates. Better still, all installations come backed by our 25-year production guarantee AND our 100% satisfaction guarantee. Call us at (720) 370‑3344 (Colorado) or (805) 351‑3371 (California) or click below to get a free estimate in seconds.