An Inverter is one of the most important components of your solar panel system, it is the component that will convert the DC power to AC power which is commonly used in most domestic appliances. In this post, I am going to share with you how to choose a solar panel inverter.
What does a solar inverter do?
A power inverter changes DC power from a solar panel or a battery into conventional AC power that we can use to operate all kinds of devices … electric lights, kitchen appliances, microwaves, power tools, TVs, radios, computers, to name just a few.
You just connect the inverter to a solar panel or battery, and plug your AC devices into the inverter … and you’ve got portable power … whenever and wherever you need it.
How to choose a solar panel inverter in 2 steps
So now that you know what is solar inverter and what it does, let us go into the two steps you can follow to chose the right solar panel inverter for your home or project.
Step 1: Find the power consumption
The size you choose depends on the watts (or amps) of what you want to run (find the power consumption by referring to the specification plate on the appliance or tool).
We recommend you buy a larger model than you think you’ll need (at least 20% more than your largest load).
Suppose you plan to connect 2 tube lights (60 Watts), 1 fan (70 Watts), 1 Computer (80 Watts) and 1 refrigerator (100 Watts). In this scenario, your total power requirement will be: 60 + 70+80 + 100 = 310 Watts
Step 2: Check the VA Rating of the Inverter
Now, the next step is to buy an inverter with proper Volt Ampere (VA) rating. VA implies the voltage and current supplied by the inverter to the appliances.
As I recommended above in practical you need to size your inverter at least 20% of the power consuption you calculated in the first step, this one should be easy just multiply the answer you got in the first step by the 1.2 factor.
VA Rating= Power Requirement*Power Factor
VA= 372 Approx.
Hence, in this situation we should be looking for an inverter of around 400 VA
Solar Panel Inverter Maintenance-Preventing System Problems
Generally, solar panel systems do not need much maintenance, this is due to the fact that there are no moving parts in the system.
Since the solar inverter is one of the main components of your solar system, today we are doing to discuss solar panel inverter maintenance and what you can do to make it last longer.
Why do you need to inspect your solar inverter so often?
Like in any highly electrical system the life span of a solar inverter is directly related to the amount of maintenance does it receive.
The main enemy here is moisture, if the electricity is flowing in the possible presence of moisture, the risk of corrosion increases too.
Main issues with solar inverters
In the solar industry, we have two types of solar inverters that can be installed at your home, the string inverters and the micro-inverters.
String inverters connect a group of panels, called a string, to one inverter. This means that you may have a set of panels all feeding into the same large inverter.
By contrast, micro-inverters are an integrated part of each individual panel (on the back of each solar panel), eliminating the need for a larger single inverter.
When there is a problem is the inverters you will notice the reduction in the amount of solar energy produced, you can notice this by using solar reading of the meter or if you are using string inverters they will give you an error code, the error code depends on the inverter manufacture.
How often I should clean my solar inverter?
I will recommend performing a check-up on your solar inverter at least once per year, just do a full inspection and cleaning of the inverter in case of dust and moisture.
Also, you can check how well the electrical connections are working and if there are loose ones make sure you tighten them up and lastly replace any part that is found to be failing.
Make sure you make electrical testing to confirm that the energy produced is near to the amount of solar energy you are expecting from your solar panels, if not find out what is the issue and fix it.
Can I clean solar inverters myself?
Solar inverters carry a lot of electricity and as I always tell my students, electricity is the best servant to have but a very cruel master.
One wrong connection can cause fire, or even cost life, do not try this if you do not have experience with electricity. Hire a professional.
This is it, this is how to choose a solar panel inverter, the first step find out the power consuption, then multiply that number by 1.2, the answer is the minimum inverter VA you should be looking for.
Also we shared some tips that you can use to clean your solar inverter, usually you do not need to clean frequently but once in a while you can see if it is dirty and clean it.