Solar cells need an inverter to convert DC electricity produced by solar power system to AC electricity. We need to convert DC to AC because most our consumer electronic appliances need AC current.
Read my blog on best 2000 watt power inverter here. And here’s my guide to best 3000 watt inverters.
Why Do Solar Cells Need An Inverter
When you invest in solar panel installation, you invest for the better future of this world, but solar electricity comes with some limits. The limits of a direct current system. To go over those limits, you will require a solar inverter. Compare inverters here.
The Problems Solar Inverter Solve
- You can store solar energy directly into the batteries, but without a charging controller, your battery will lose its quality and will not remain stable for a long time. Smart inverters come with built in charge controller.
- Without solar power inverter, you cannot consume that power from solar cells panels because our electric appliances are designed to consume 240/120v at 60/50Hz AC power.
- Sametime, you cannot sell it to the utility grid without buffering the electricity grid tie inverter. Because our distribution network is an AC power system based, and with DC power output, you will never get the necessary approvals. Although you’ll also need net metering mechanism for billing.
- To directly consume 12v DC supply, you will need to replace all of your home electric appliances, which will significantly increase your cost of expenses on appliances.
Why Is DC Current Produced From Solar Panels
The process of charging electricity occurs in form of DC, which is why Solar Panels produce DC power as solar cells are charged through photons absorption. If we talk of electricity, AC power is artificially generated, and it does not exist in nature. However, DC power exists in nature, and the solar cells do not generate electricity but charge themselves through the solar energy in photons. Read my detailed guide on power inverter here.
Why Our Appliances Don’t Use DC Current
Now, this question arises as that why our everyday appliance cannot consume DC? Because, our distribution and utilization system of electricity is designed in AC. Even when our many home appliances such as laptops, cell phones, and other electric appliances consume DC, but they have already built-in circuitry to rectify AC into DC. Even these DC-current-consuming appliances require AC input.
Solar cells produce DC current, but we don’t use that directly and require an inverter to convert that into AC. So, that we can make use of that produced electricity.
AC voltage for utilization has generally two standards, first is 120v at 60Hz, which is used in the USA and the country that follows its standards. The second standard is 240v at 50Hz, which is used in the United Kingdom, and those who follow its standards.
The DC utilization is done in 12v, 24v, and 48 volts. Your appliances are designed to consume certain voltages, otherwise, they would burn out, and our utilization system is designed on 240v at 50hz or 120v at 60Hz.
If you try to feed 12v DC supply to your home appliances directly, which are designed to consume AC, it won’t work, will overheat and get damaged.
Benefits Of Using Inverter For Solar Cell
- Modern Inverters have built-in charge controllers, which would not let battery overcharge and maintain the steady 12v power supply to it.
- The solar inverter converts the 12v DC supply from the battery to 240/120v AC for AC power appliances, and you will not need to buy DC electric devices.
- After inverting power into AC, you can connect it to the utility grid and sell your extra production of DC power to the electric companies through the grid. You’d need a grid tie inverter though.
- Inverters also rectify AC supply to 12v DC to charge batteries on the night or cloudy days. If you have an inverter, you can charge your batteries even when solar cells do not supply electricity.
Demerits Of Using Inverter For Solar Cell
To me, the only disadvantage they have is their initial cost, they are expensive, and will make you think for a few minutes before buying, but in the long-time run, they offer you only benefits. So, while buying an inverter, check out its warranty years and normal life.
What Changed By Using Inverters For Solar Cells
Solar power system is growing popularity as one the best renewable energy source. Initially, Solar Panels, Charge controllers, Batteries, and Inverters were required to install solar energy system, but now as smart inverters come with built-in charge controlling ability, and you won’t require a separate charge controller, there are three basic requirements.
Solar Cell Panels
Certainly, you would require solar panels first. It is a transducer that converts solar energy to electric energy. It produces a 12v DC supply which is fed directly to the solar battery to charge. There is an immense variety of solar installation panels in the market, depending upon their efficiency and capacity.
Passivated emitter and Rear Cell (PERC) solar panels are leading the race, which has 5% more energy production, are more efficient than any traditional solar panel, require less area to power production ratio, and the most amazing thing about them is that they have the same manufacturing cost as other types of solar panels.
PERC has an additional anti-reflection passivation layer that absorbs more photons and produces at least 5% more electricity than any traditional solar PV system.
Central Inverter with built-in Charge Controller
As mentioned above, Solar cells produce DC electricity, and that cannot be used directly with our usual home electric appliances. So, to convert that DC supply into AC electricity, we use power inverter.
These days inverters come with built-in charge controllers that provide a steady supply to the batteries and prevent overcharging.
Another benefit it provides is to charge batteries through the electric supply we get from the distribution network. That means you can even charge your batteries with normal AC power at your home through an inverter, in case of a rainy day or at night.
There are various solar inverters in the market such as String Solar Inverters, Hybrid Or Battery Ready Inverters, Off-grid Inverters, Micro Inverters etc. with prices ranging from $750 to $2500, depending upon their warranty years, isolating/tripping quality to voltage surge or fault currents, efficiency, and display screen. Compare inverter prices here.
The solar cells convert solar energy into electric energy and supply it directly without any storage capabilities. So, you cannot produce power from the solar panel on nights or rainy days when sunshine is quite low. Therefore, you need solar battery to store electricity and consume it later.
You can use any battery for your power storage, there are no specific, but Lithium-ion batteries with solar panels last longer than any other battery type. All huge battery brands have special batteries under the tag of solar energy, which offers longer life, overcharge tolerance, is easy to maintain, and is suitable for inverters. Compare solar batteries here.
If you are going to install a solar cell panels system, you should install it properly with an inverter having a built-in charge controller and batteries, so that you can seamlessly convert DC electricity to AC electricity. The Solar panel system without an inverter would cost you more than with an inverter because, in the first case, you will have to buy special DC Current consuming appliances, and those appliances would not run-on power from the grid. So, an inverter is a must with Solar Panel System.