A solar inverter (also known as a grid tied inverter) is an integral component of a solar system:
- Solar panels output DC (direct current) power
- The DC power is channelled into a solar inverter that converts it to 240V 50Hz AC (alternating current) electricity
- The 240V AC electricity can be used to power home appliances and common property plant & equipment
- Surplus electricity is fed back into the main electricity grid
There are 3 main types of inverters:
A micro inverter consists of a small box located on the back of or situated very close to a solar panel. Its role is to convert the DC power produced by a single solar panel.
In these systems, there is no DC wiring in the system at all and standard AC cables are simply run to each panel for connection, simplifying the installation.
One advantage with this system is that, because each panel operates independently, shading or failure of one panel has no effect on the rest of the array.
A string inverter is the type most commonly used in home and commercial solar power systems. It is a large-ish box that is often situated some distance away from the solar array. Depending on the size of the installation, there may be more than one string inverter present.
Central inverters are designed for applications such as large arrays installed on buildings, industrial facilities as well as field installations – they are basically just a very large string inverter.