Solar Inverter 101: What Is A Solar Inverter

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Solar Inverter 101: What Is A Solar Inverter

The inverter is the brain of your solar energy system. The solar panels are its body, and the inverter ensures you get the most power possible.

 

Solar panels are the most noticeable part of a solar power system, so most people have heard of them. However, the solar inverter is just as necessary to think about because it turns electricity from the sun into electricity that your home can use.

 

In this guide, we'll talk about what a solar inverter is, how it works, how to choose a good one, and how to use it better. Also, Jackery Portable Power Stations use a pure sine wave solar inverter to ensure the energy flow is steady while your devices are being charged.

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways:

The solar inverter is the part of your solar panel system that changes the DC power the panels produce into AC.

A solar inverter has many advantages, such as maximising energy production, fault detection, and monitoring system output.

The solar inverters can classified by technologies and wavelengths. String inverters, micro inverters, power optimisers, and hybrid inverters for different inverter technologies exist. As for the wavelengths, there are pure sine wave and modified sine wave inverters.

Jackery Portable Power Stations adopt higher-quality pure sine wave inverters to ensure a stable and consistent power supply.


What Is A Solar Inverter? 


The solar inverter is the part of your solar panel system that changes the direct current (DC) power that the panels produce into alternating current (AC). AC is the normal flow of energy that your home appliances and the National Grid need to work. Based on the country, it's generally equal to either 120 or 240 volts. If you have a solar inverter, Your home will be safe to power with solar energy.

It's not the same thing as a charging device. A charge processor handles the electricity and sends it to the batteries or the power system. Along with inverters, they are an essential part of solar energy storage systems.

People say that PV inverters are the brains of any solar PV system. Some of their most important features are:

  • The ability to convert direct current to alternating current.
  • Maximising power output.
  • Communicating with the National Grid.
  • Giving feedback information about power production.
  • Ensuring that your solar PV system is operating safely.

What Are The Benefits of A Solar Inverter?


The solar PV inverter can turn the sun's rays into valuable electricity, but it can do more than that. A solar panel inverter can help you get the most energy out of your solar panels, keep an eye on their output, connect to the power grid, and find problems that could damage your system.

  • Maximizing Energy Production

Solar inverters monitor the energy of your solar array to get the most power out of your solar panels. This way, you can make the most clean electricity possible.

Grid-tied house solar inverters also produce a pure sine wave, which measures how smoothly the direction of current changes, than cheaper inverters that produce a modified sine wave. This makes sure that your sensitive appliances work smoothly and efficiently.

  • Fault Detection

Electrical wiring and solar panels that are old and breaking down can cause dangerous electrical faults like ground faults and arcs if they are not correctly kept.

If this happens, the solar power inverter will quickly figure out what's wrong and turn off, saving the rest of the system and letting you know it needs service before any more damage happens.

  • Monitoring System Output

Seeing your solar power system produce thousands of watts on a sunny day is astonishing. That's why most people want a way to keep an eye on how their investment is doing.

Many solar panel inverters have a way to show you how much energy they are making at any given time. Some even have websites or mobile apps that you can use to keep an eye on your solar system.

If something isn't working right, some home inverters will automatically check your solar power system and let you know if it finds a problem with any part. The performance tracking feature on the home inverter also enables you to check on your system's parts from time to time to ensure it's making the right amount of energy.

This is an example of a Jackery Portable Power Station. It uses an MPPT charge controller and a pure sine wave inverter to allow the power to flow smoothly and that there is enough voltage in case of overload. With the Jackery App, you can watch how the Portable Power Stations are charging. The next part will tell you more about them.


How Does A Solar Inverter Work?


There are two types of output from solar panels: changeable direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC). A solar inverter changes the DC output into AC output. The machines in your home use AC power, not DC power. This is why the solar inverter must change the DC power your solar panels produce.

To get more specific, the sun shines on your solar PV panels, which are also known as photovoltaic (PV) cells. These cells comprise layers of semiconductors that are either solid silicon or gallium arsenide. There is a junction between these layers, which makes them a mix of positive and negative layers. 

If the sun is out, the semiconductor layers take in the light and send it to the PV cell, where it is used. This energy moves around, and bumps lose electrons between the positive and negative layers. This makes direct current (DC) an electric current. Depending on your setup type, the power is stored in a battery until needed again or sent straight to an inverter.

The power sent to the transformer is in DC form, but your home needs AC. The inverter takes the energy and sends it through a transformer. The transformer then turns the power into AC. The inverter "tricks" the transformer into thinking that the DC is AC by making it behave like AC. To do this, it sends the DC through two or more transistors that quickly turn on and off and feed two different sides of the transformer.


What Are The Types of Solar Inverters?


Inverters all do the same primary job: to change DC energy from the sun into sound AC energy for your home. However, you can pick from three different solar inverter systems for your solar panel system. Each plays a slightly different role. Solar inverters are divided into groups based on their uses and wave widths.

Solar Inverter Technologies


There are four main varieties of solar inverters, each classified by usage and technology.

Solar Inverter

Pros

Cons

String Inverter

- Cheaper option

- Easier to access for service

- Less productive

- Weaker warranties

Micro Inverter

- Individual panel monitoring available

- Less expensive

- Last longer

- Higher initial costs

- Servicing can be more expensive

Power Optimiser

- More efficient than string

- Individual panel monitoring available

- More expensive

- Repairing can be more expensive

Hybrid Inverter

- Higher efficiency

- Longer lifespan

- Not suitable for off-grid homes

- Expensive

String Inverter

There are several inverters, but string inverters are the oldest and have been used for the longest time. Each solar panel is attached to a "string" and is grouped in a group or row. Multiple strings can be linked to a single inverter, which changes the DC electricity the panels make into AC electricity that appliances can use.

One bad thing about string inverters is that if one panel's performance drops, it can affect the whole grid if it gets damaged or gets too much shade.

string inverter

Micro Inverter

More and more people are choosing microtransformers for their home solar systems. These are attached to each solar panel. Change the DC to AC on the top so you don't need a separate inverter.

This is how the change is done, so if some panels are affected by shade, it doesn't affect the panels still in the sun. It is also possible to keep an eye on how well each solar screen is working.

Microtransformers could help them put more solar panels on their roofs. Some panels may be in partial shade during the day, but that will still need to change how well the other panels work in direct sunlight most of the time.

Micro inverters are still relatively new and more expensive than other inverters. However, the extra cost may be justified by the fact that they produce more energy.

micro inverter

Power Optimiser

A string inverter and power optimisers work together to change DC to AC. Power optimisers are on the back of each solar cell. To do this, they send the conditioned DC energy from each panel to the string inverter to turn it into AC electricity.

Power optimisers are helpful thanks to the string inverter because they let you watch the panels and the whole system. This makes it easier to figure out what's wrong with solar power since each panel is being watched separately. It also gives the user a better view of what is being watched.

power optimiser

Hybrid Inverter

These transformers are what a hybrid solar PV energy system is built on. The hybrid solar system lets you choose whether to sell extra power back to the grid or store the renewable energy in a battery when there is additional energy.

After that, the solar storage battery can give power. The hybrid generator and battery must be set up with the right software and switchovers for this to work. Most of the time, these aren't included, so ask your installer to add them to your price.

hybrid inverter

Solar Inverter Materials


Based on the wavelengths, there are two main types of solar inverters.

A pure sine wave inverter is a continuous, steady wave that oscillates smoothly and regularly. Because of this, pure sine wave inverters accurately convert power, creating a clean and stable power source.

On the contrary, a modified sine wave inverter makes it most accessible for making a sine wave. However, its signal is less smooth than a pure sine wave because it abruptly changes from positive to negative polarity. This is why a modified sine wave inverter can experience power fluctuations. 

To see the difference, a modified sine wave looks like a square pattern of up and down stair steps, while a pure sine wave is a smooth wave.

pure sine wave and modified wave

Modified sine wave inverters can power sensitive electronics, like old TVs with tubes or devices without a motor that doesn't change speeds. This is possible because they are simple to build.

But if you want to power sensitive medical equipment, a laptop, or other things that need clean AC power, a pure sine wave inverter is the best choice because it makes output power very close to natural sine wave AC power.

Modified sine wave inverters with the same power output can be 40–75% less expensive than pure sine wave inverters. This is because they use less advanced technology, have fewer internal parts, and are easier to make overall.

Although a pure sine inverter costs more initially because a changed sine inverter is less efficient, choosing a pure sine wave inverter might be cheaper in the long run. A lithium-ion battery, a pure sine wave inverter, and an MPPT solar regulator make up the core of a Jackery Portable Power Station. These parts work together to provide a stable and reliable power source.


Jackery Portable Power Stations with Pure Sine Wave Inverters


The technology behind the Jackery Portable Power Stations has been updated and made better to give you power whenever and wherever you need it. 

how jackery solar generator works

Our Explorer series can also be used with solar panels. If you want to turn your Explorer series into a Jackery Solar Generator, you can buy our Jackery SolarSaga Solar Panels. This way, users can make their own energy without relying on power companies.

The Jackery Portable Power Station has a high-quality lithium battery, an MPPT charge controller, and a pure sine wave inverter to ensure your phones, fridge, TV, lights, and other home and personal electronics always have power, even in an emergency or while you're camping.

Jackery Explorer 1000 Pro


The Jackery Explorer 1000 Pro Portable Power Station is an entirely suitable power station that simultaneously charges multiple devices! The 1000W compact power station has a 1002Wh battery that keeps your electronics charged when camping or when the power goes out. It has the best BMS, pure sine wave technology, 94V-0 fire-rated material, a handle that can be folded up, and only 25.4 pounds.  

This solar charging station can power 90% of your outdoor gear, from cell phones to portable coolers. The unique charging algorithm ensures that 80% of the battery's capacity stays even after 1000 rounds.

For ten years, you could camp with the Explorer 1000 Pro every week, and it would still be able to hold 80% of its weight. It can also stay on standby for over a year at total capacity, making it a reliable emergency backup power source. 

Product Specs

Capacity: 1002Wh, 1000W Inverter, 2000W Peak

Output Ports: 3*AC Outputs: 120V, 60Hz, 1000W Inverter, 2000W Peak; 2*USB-A Outputs: 2*Quick Charge 3.0, 18W Max; 2*USB-C Outputs: 100W Max, 5V, 9V, 12V, 15V, 20V up to 5A; 1*Carport: 12V⎓10A.

Recharging Methods: Explorer 1000 Pro + 4*SolarSaga 100W = 3.8H, Explorer 1000 Pro + 2*SolarSaga 100W = 7H, Explorer 1000 Pro + 1*SolarSaga 100W = 13.5H, Explorer 1000 Pro + 6*SolarSaga 80W = 3H, AC adapter = 1.8H, Carport = 12H.

Design: Jackery Explorer 1000 Pro is only 25.4 pounds, about 70% of the weight, and is small compared to similar options. Its comfortable handle makes it easy to take while camping, fishing, or working outside.     

jackery explorer 1000 pro power station for family glamping

Jackery Explorer 500


The Jackery Explorer 500 Portable Power Station can power gadgets with low to high power for a long time. The power station is excellent for emergency backup plans, especially for charging CPAP machines. It has a sizeable 518Wh battery, a comfortable design, a handle that can be folded up, and the best BMS technology in the business. It's straightforward to move around because it only weighs 13.32 pounds. 

With the Jackery Explorer 500 Portable Power Station, you don't have to look for an outlet to charge your devices. Solar panels, car plugs, and electric generators are just a few other ways to charge your electric devices, like your CPAP, light, TV, radio, etc., anywhere, at any time.

The best thing about the Jackery Explorer 500 Power Station is its extended battery life. There will still be 80% power in the power station's batteries, even after 800 charges. 

Product Specs

Capacity: 518Wh, 500W Inverter, 1000W Peak

Output Ports: 1*AC Outputs: 110V, 60Hz, 500W Inverter, 1000W Peak; 2*DC Outputs: 12V⎓7A; 2*USB-A Outputs: 5V⎓2.4A; 1*Carport: 12V⎓10A.

Recharging Methods: Explorer 500 + 1*SolarSaga 100W = 9H, Explorer 500 + 1*SolarSaga 80W = 9.4H, AC adapter = 7.5H, Carport = 7.5H.

Design: The portable power station is powerful and can handle hot and cold temperatures. The power station is safe from short circuits, overcharging, overvoltages, and other problems thanks to the superior MPPT charge controller and pure sine wave inverter.

jackery explorer 500 portable power station for picnic

How to Choose The Best Solar Inverter?


All solar inverters change your solar panels' direct current (DC) power into alternating (AC). This means that your house can use the energy. When you shop for inverters, here are some things to keep in mind:

Solar Inverter Efficiency: When looking at a solar inverter's efficiency, you should look for two numbers: peak and weighted efficiency.

The inverter's peak efficiency tells you how well it works when it's at its best. Even though it's helpful to know what the best-case situation is, keep in mind that it will only sometimes happen. Sometimes, it only works at its best for an hour or two.

The variables, such as DC input values, have weighted efficiency numbers. As the day passes, sunlight, temperature, and other environmental factors change how well the inverter works, giving a more accurate reading.

Solar Inverter Warranty: When buying electronics, most people feel safer when they have insurance. Inverters for solar panels are no different. Most inverters come with contracts that last between 5 and 10 years, but some can last up to 25 years.

Solar Inverter Operating Temperature: Like most other electronics, inverters work best when cool. The safest temperature range for an inverter is its operating temperature.

While they do their job, inverters will naturally make some heat. They are subject to a wide range of temperature changes because they are usually outside in an uncontrollable environment.


Solar Inverter FAQs


The following are the most frequently asked questions about solar inverter:

  1. What does a solar inverter do?

When it comes to solar energy, an inverter is one of the most essential parts. It changes direct current (DC) electricity, which solar panels make, into alternating current (AC) electricity, which the power grid needs.

  1. What is the difference between solar inverters and solar panels?

Solar panels' energy is direct current, which the grid can't use. Moving your power to alternating current ensures an inverter can work with the grid. That being said, inverters today can do a lot more. They are the tools that track and report on how much power is being made and used. 

  1. Can solar inverter power a house?

You can use solar energy to power your home with a solar converter. Alternating current (AC) power is what houses are built to use. For home use, every photovoltaic solar energy system needs a way to change the direct current (DC) energy that the solar cells produce into alternating current (AC) power.

  1. What size solar inverter do I need?

One of the most important things you'll have to do when building a solar energy system is pick the right size solar generator. If you don't choose the right size inverter, your system may not work as well, which can increase your electricity bills and even damage your home electricity.

Stick to this straightforward rule to make sure you pick a solar inverter of the right size: Pick a transformer that can handle more power than your solar panels can produce. When inverters change from DC to AC, they often lose some of their efficiency. This means that they produce less AC power than they are rated for. 


Final Thoughts


The solar inverter is the brain of your solar energy system. The solar panels are its body, and the solar inverter is its brain. They work together to make sure you get the most power possible. This page describes what a solar inverter is, what kinds there are, and how they work.

It would be best to consider the warranty, how well it works, and the temperature range it can handle when picking a solar inverter. If you want to try a solar system but need more money, the Jackery Portable Power Station is a good choice. It has a high-quality pure sine wave inverter that ensures the power source is stable and consistent.               

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