When deciding on a residential or commercial solar company, most people have many questions that we expect to hear, especially when they’re discovering solar for the first time.
Surprisingly, we sometimes get clients asking about the different types of inverters and why they matter to the system’s overall performance. We often hear, “What’s the difference between a solar inverter vs normal inverter?” We appreciate people trying to learn all they can about solar energy cultivation as we work with them to install systems.
This blog is a prime opportunity to provide quick and simple lessons on the basics of solar power systems. This piece will focus on solar inverters vs. normal inverters.
It’s important to be aware of the differences between standard electrical inverters and solar power inverters. Despite what each piece of engineering may look like on the outside, there’s a discernible difference between the processes of generating electricity from the two types of inverters.
The Basic Process
In general, power inverters convert Direct Current (DC) to alternating current (AC) with switching, transformers, and sine-wave corrections. Properties of all types must transform DC power to AC power for use with appliances, electronics, and everything in between.
When discussing solar inverters vs. normal inverters specifically, the differences occur in how energy is converted and where it is sourced from in the first place. Solar inverters convert renewable solar-generated DC power to functioning AC power, while normal inverters utilize other forms of cultivated DC power, most commonly, energy supplied from the local power grid.
A solar inverter is a pivotal piece of the solar energy cultivation system; it is synced with solar panels, switching circuits, a blocking diode, batteries, and a charge controller. It takes the DC power generated by the solar panels, converts it to AC, and syncs the power with the rest of the solar power system, which may be tied to the grid or not, or even tied to backup battery storage. Solar inverters do not need to be tied to a battery to function.
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The Standard or “Normal” Power Inverter
Like a solar inverter, normal inverters use control circuits, transformers, and switching to convert DC to AC. Normal inverters are dependent on energy from the grid; a normal inverter and inverter battery are tied into the main power connection to the property. The battery for the standard inverter needs to be charged from grid power, and a normal inverter won’t work without a battery.
Solar Inverter vs. Normal Inverter – Operational Differences
Under typical operational circumstances, normal inverters involve a three-step process to complete the energy inversion, and solar inverters require five. Normal inverters don’t have two functions: blocking diodes and charge controllers.
- Blocking Diode
A blocking diode allows a current to flow from the solar panels to the battery. However, it prevents the current flow from the battery to the solar panels; this ensures the battery doesn’t discharge and potentially damage the rest of the system.
- Charge Controllers
Vice versa, charge controllers regulate the current and voltage from the solar panels to the battery. In other words, it works in contrast to a blocking diode by making sure the battery doesn’t overcharge.
*Please remember that this overview is a very rudimentary description of how these two inverters function. Each can have an array of different operations depending on the design, features, and output capabilities.
There’s Always Some to Learn When It Comes to Solar
We understand that there’s a lot to learn regarding solar panels and solar energy systems. We’re more than happy to educate our clients on how their systems work and help grow the sustainable energy revolution.
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