What solar inverter do you need? Do you have single phase or 3 phase power at your home and how are they different? Will it affect the cost of your PV setup?
Solar Inverter Overview
The inverter is in fact the core of your PV system. Its core task is to change the DC power from the panels then to AC power. It then finds the right volt range that works best with the panels. The inverter will smooth out the power, and make it good for use in your home. An inverter may come in a range of types and sizes, also cost. The one you see the most of is in fact a string inverter. But there are micro inverters as well, that you may have seen or heard of. This is where each panel has its own "IC" chip, that adjusts out put. So it’s like a little "brain" that each panel has and they work like this for each panel that is on your roof. It’s a great thing to have for places that get shade, so we do use them when we need to. But we like to do things the easy way.
Well, why make things hard when they can be easy?! So a string inverter is the best way to go if we can. As we know, things tend to improve in solar all the time. But don’t forget if you have more parts, then there are more things to go wrong. So stay with simple if you can. As we know, the day of the battery is here. Well, almost. We feel there is still some way to go with them, and don’t think they're a good deal right now. So we are a bit hesitant to get on board just yet. But if you have a question about them, just ask. We’ll be more than happy to help.
How does an inverter work?
The DC volts made by your PV system is in fact fed into the PV converter, which “inverts” it. That means "flips it”, and so a low voltage goes to a much higher, 240 volts. While it does that, the PV inverter makes the energy nice and smooth. Which is then the same as what you get from your 240V mains plug. If not, then the appliances in your home may get fried. You can then use this energy in your home or send it out to the Grid. In this case, then you get some nice feed in tariff! We should say that the "PV inverter" used here could be in fact a Hybrid Inverter. Or then it could be a Battery Inverter too, as they both do the same thing.
Do you have an old (or new) inverter that stop working??
Check our Repairs page, where you can find some help,tips and Basic Troubleshooting. You can also ask for a price for repairs or replacement!
So What Type Of Connection Do You Have?
Some homes connect to The Grid by 3 phase power, but most are 1 phase. In effect this rules what type you need. In fact, to have more phases means that your home can get more energy from The Grid. If your home has a pool, then it often will have it. Or if you have ducted A/C or a workshop then it’s a good chance you will have 3 phase too.
A single phase inverter will cost less than a three. But a 3 phase home can have a single phase unit if they want. However it’s better to use the 3 though. As 3 phase power unit in fact, can deal with a big load better. As a rule, a 5kW unit is the limit, but with 3 phase you can go to 3 times that. You can ask Energex to go bigger than this, but it can take a while. But let us know if you do want to put up a larger kit, and we'll give you a hand.
Do I need a String Inverter?
A string inverter is in fact one of the best choices for those wanting to buy. The SMA Sunny Boy or Fronius Primo are two of the best, so there is quite a few out there. But a string inverter will not be the best choice all the time. If you have shade at your place, then you might want think about micro inverters. These are best for places that get a lot of shade, but its best to avoid shade if you can. If not, then you can try these but they cost a lot more. So the time it will take for the system to pay for itself will be longer. If a tree is shading, then its best to cut it down or trim it back. So in the long run, this can save a lot of money and less headaches too. But doing that is not always possible.
You might have heard the word “string” when others talk about PV solar? A “string” is in fact a group of panels that join up to an inverter. You can just have one, but mostly there are two. When on your roof they will point away from each other. All the panels in a “string” are at the same angle too, so they all work exactly the same. If one of the panels is not working, then this stops all the others in the “string” too. So shade is a “show stopper” for those that want to make PV power. When your panels make DC power, the PV inverter then turns it into smooth AC. This power is then ready for use by you in your home, or sold to the Grid.
Hybrid Solar Inverters - when do you need Them?
These do the work of a string and a battery inverter, but all in one. These can turn DV volts into AC power you can then use in the home or sell to the Grid. You can then charge up or use the power in the battery if there is one. But you don't need to have a battery if you just want to put in a PV hybrid.
So the Fronius Symo Hybrid or Sungrow SH5K are out there, these are two that you can buy. And they will give some flex for when you go ahead and get a battery. But as these do more work than a standard unit they can have just a bit less out put. But it is only a small amount though.
So While We’re On The Subject, Is It Worthwhile To Buy A Hybrid Solar Inverter Right Now?
No, don't get one, if you are not putting in a battery at the same time. But there are a few reasons why we say that. So first up, a hybrid will cost you more, maybe twice the price. And the tech moves at such a rate that what you buy now may not be good enough later on. So that's a lot of money to hang on your wall just for good looks. Its best just to wait a while until you are ready. If not, then you might find later on that your unit will not work with the new stuff.
So how would that be? Not fun, that is for sure. There are so many firms now all on the quest to find the "Holy Grail". So it’s hard to try and guess which one will rise above the others. It seems that lithium has the edge for now but who knows for how long? We have seen it before where a new guy comes in takes over. So after all that, it might be for the best to wait until you're ready to go.
What Are Battery Inverters?Yes, so there are a few types of converters, with some for “off-Grid” use too.
A PV battery inverter will take stored DC power and then change it to AC. Just like what you get now from the mains, it’s the same, in fact. So with this new power source you can carry on with your life as you do now. While we are not talking about Off Grid PV Systems, They do in fact have a battery inverter as a main part of their kit.