There is much interest in renewable energy sources these days. This is partly due to the increased awareness of environmental issues causes by using fossil fuels. But more importantly fossil fuels are beginning to cost more money. Gone are the days of cheap fuel. Electricity is also becoming expensive and the monthly home electricity bill is becoming a concern for the average family. Solar power is an alternative to fossil fuels and it is becoming more efficient and affordable as new technological research is devoted to it and governments offer grants and rebates to take it up.
This article will discuss the components of a solar power system that supplies electricity to the home. It will focus on the types of solar power inverters that such a system might need. It will cover what you might look for when selecting such an inverter.
A solar power system can be split into two sub systems. The solar panels that are a series of photovoltaic (PV) cells create direct current (DC) from sunlight. They are the system responsible for creating electricity. The other sub system is used to store and control this electricity. This is made up of a battery bank and a solar power inverter.
The electricity that is created by PV cells is DC. This poses a problem for most households as they are set up to operate using alternating current (AC). Certainly the grid supplied electricity is AC because it is the only current that can be used to transport electricity from the power station to the home. As a consequence of this, most appliances that are created are made to be used with AC.
So the job of the solar power inverter is to convert DC to AC. The purpose of an inverter is to transform 12, 24 or 48 volt DC to 120 volt, 60 hertz or 220 volt, 50 hertz AC current. In the United states most appliances run with 120 volt and a frequency of 60 hertz. The frequency indicates the frequency at which the current alternates. Appliances can run on AC of a frequency of 60 or 50 hertz. Inverters are also differentiated by their power rating. They are either continuous or surge power rated. A normal household will go through periods where their in a sudden need for electricity. No doubt you have heard the stories of how there is a huge strain on the utility companies when adverts come on TV because people are getting up to put the kettle on for a cup of coffee or tea. This applies to winter months when there is more demand for power. This is what the surge is about in a power inverter. Surge rated inverters can cope with this spike in energy needs whereas continuous cannot.
There are various types of inverters from rotary to electronic inverters. The electronic variety is far more popular because they are smaller and cheaper. The basis for differentiating between electronic inverts is the efficiency rating and the ability to deal with power surges. You should also check out the components as this will indicate how long the device will work.
Other types of inverters include the intertie and battery charging varieties. These types are used when the house has a joint venture with a utility company. This means that the house is still connected to grid electricity but only uses it when it can’t generate enough electricity to be self sufficient. The job of the intertie inverter is to make this call. It will switch between the battery bank and the grid when it thinks that the batter charge is too low. Battery charging inverters do the same thing but they also direct grid electricity to charge the batteries so that there is never a chance when the home will run out of electricity.