Rooftop solar panels will get dirty over time. Do you need to clean them to make your investment worthwhile?
Why Do I Need a Solar Inverter? (Plus The Brand We Offer)
So what exactly does a solar inverter do? Outlined are the key duties for solar inverters & how to shop for one.
You wouldn’t get much use out of a solar panel array without an inverter. Inverters, part of a wider range of products called power electronic devices, convert electricity from one type to another. In this case, the Direct Current (DC) generated by solar systems is converted to Alternating Current (AC) that’s used to power your home and the electrical grid itself.
Every Photovoltaic (PV) system, commonly known as a solar array, requires a power electronic device, and according to a report by the U.S. Department of Energy, by 2030 as much as 80 percent of electricity could eventually flow through power electronics. Clearly, inverters are essential to providing power from your home solar system and giving you the ability to sell back excess power to your electrical provider for even more energy and money savings. Read on to learn more about solar panel installation and how to choose between our high-quality inverters, the Enphase IQ7 and IQ7+.
What Exactly Is a Solar Inverter?
The inverter is one of the most important pieces that make up a solar system. First invented in the 20th century and mechanical in nature, they used a spinning motor or similar mechanism to continuously charge. Today’s inverters are solid-state devices made of transistors with electrical switches that do not require moving parts. The transistors consist of semiconductor materials such as silicon and control the electrical flow.
As noted earlier, an inverter takes DC power generated by the solar panels, which is maintained at a constant voltage in one direction, and converts it to AC by rapidly switching up the direction of the DC input back and forth. The DC input then becomes the AC output, meaning the electricity flows in both directions through the circuit as the voltage goes from positive to negative.
Homeowners with solar arrays probably have an inverter that performs many functions including system monitoring and acts as a portal to communicate with computer networks. Additionally, if there is a battery storage system, then an advanced inverter will perform without any support from the electrical grid in the event of a power outage. In short, solar technology is a complicated business and it’s important to select qualified, experienced solar installers who know the ins and outs of the business.
How To Shop For a Solar Inverter
While all inverters perform the same primary task of converting DC to AC, there are three distinct technologies involved and each works somewhat differently. Let’s take a closer look at the three main technologies and what to look for when shopping for one if you’re considering installing solar panels with inverters.
The first type is called a string inverter, which links a large set of panels – picture a string – to a single inverter. Although cost-effective, its setup means reduced power production in the event any individual panel experiences issues like shading or damage. They are considered a very durable technology and easy to maintain, given their location in an area that is easily accessible (unlike the roof). However, lower performance of one panel may impact the overall outcome of the entire string. This is a good option for homeowners with standard roofs that enjoy consistent sunshine all day long and are not subject to shading or decreased daylight due to odd roof positioning.
The second type is microinverters, which are smaller inverters placed on every panel so if a single panel experiences an issue, it doesn’t affect the power drawn from the rest of the array. Rather than a centralized inverter like the string inverters, these are distributed and convert DC to AC on the roof itself rather than sending it down from every panel to a single inverter. These are best applied to solar systems where the panels face multiple directions, for those looking to maximize solar production in a relatively small space or for homeowners who prefer panel-level monitoring of system performance for better visibility and troubleshooting. Although microinverters are more expensive, they offer much better overall performance than string inverters.
The third type is a power optimizer, which is a compromise between the previous two kinds of inverters we talked about. Power optimizers are similar to microinverters in that they’re positioned on the roof with the individual solar panels in the array and are designed to fix the DC voltage in a process called conditioning. The power is then sent to the string inverter. In this way, it’s more efficient than having only a string inverter in the case of damage or shading.
Now that you have a better grasp of the role of solar inverters, it’s time to decide which type best suits your needs. It’s important to remember that not every system needs a more expensive microinverter, and not all systems are optimally designed for a less expensive string inverter, so it really depends on your situation and requirements. As a trusted solar panel installation company in Las Vegas, we’re here to help you with this important decision. Here are some general things to look for when considering which inverter best suits your needs:
· Cost vs. the type of solar array and roof design you have
· Overall efficiency in the case of a complex array (multi-directional for example) or shading
· Ability to monitor or adjust performance remotely
· Difficulties in maintenance or repair scenarios
· Ability to efficiently feed a battery system
The Solar Inverters We Offer
Bell Electrical Systems offers two types of inverters as well as three popular solar batteries. Our battery selection includes the Encharge 3 with 3.4kWh of total usable energy and four embedded microinverters. With this option, you can start small and work your way up incrementally over time. The Enphase Encharge 10 has three base Encharge 3 storage units with 10.1kWh of total usable energy and 12 embedded microinverters. And the Panasonic EverVolt features a four to six-battery array for 11.4kWh to 17.1kWh of capacity, and you can use the EverVolt mobile application to manage the system operations remotely.
We also offer two quality microinverters for you to choose from. Now let’s look more closely at our inverters and what makes them desirable.
The Enphase IQ7
The Enphase IQ7 is a seventh-generation microinverter that is designed with efficiency in mind and is smart-grid ready. It’s perfectly suited for 60, 66, or 72 cell modules. The inverter’s polymeric enclosure and innovative cabling system makes installation easier, with a maximum output power of 250 Volt-Amperes (VA). It is configurable for a variety of grid profiles and has a 97 percent efficiency rating from the California Energy Commission (CEC).
The Enphase IQ7+
The smart grid-ready Enphase IQ7+ is a high-powered microinverter that will give you the highest system efficiency achievable. It integrates the powerful Enphase IQ battery with the Enphase IQ gateway, along with application monitoring and analysis software. It is also suited for 60, 66, or 72 cell modules and offers 295 VA. This microinverter extends the reliability from previous generations and is extensively tested with over one million hours, so it features an industry-best 25-year warranty.
Choose Bell As Your Las Vegas Solar Installer
Bell Solar & Electrical Systems has been performing electrical and solar services in the Las Vegas area for 15 years. Founded in 2007 by Trevor Bell and later purchased by a consortium of employees, this employee-owned company positions itself at the forefront of renewable energy. We offer the best customer service and highest quality materials, and our “family first” attitude toward our valued employees is passed on to our valued customers whether they’re residential or businesses.
Each member of our team serves an essential role in our success and is held accountable to the highest standards. This is why every member of our installation and electrical crews receives a “quality assurance bonus” to ensure we meet or exceed all standards and a “perfect week bonus” when each installation in any given week achieves a perfect score during the initial inspection. You can expect only the best from us, so contact us today for a free estimate or to get all your questions answered.