Once again, EcoFasten Solar is thrilled to share a guest blog from our friends at Modernize. Check out this great article by Courtni Wisenbaker-Scheel on choosing a solar inverter. We hope you find this as helpful as we did! Thanks, Modernize!
Congratulations on making the decision to convert your home to solar power! Now comes the hard part: determining which components will best fit the needs of your family–and your wallet. Although photovoltaic panels get most of the glory, the type of solar inverter you choose will have a big impact on your home’s power and your monthly utility bill. Since the majority of solar arrays require the addition of an inverter, or optimizer, we at Modernize want to help inform you of the options available so you can make this choice with confidence.
Energy moves through all power systems in one of two ways: Alternating Current (AC) or Direct Current (DC). All solar panels produce DC, which allows the energized electrons to move in one direction through the system like water flowing downstream. On the other hand, electrons simply vibrate back and forth to move energy along the line with AC. Since AC transformers and circuit breakers were all that were available for a long time and were incredibly inexpensive, this became the standard for power companies. Solar inverters are necessary to switch the DC energy flow created by your solar panels to AC power that will allow you to connect to the grid.
Grid-tied inverters connect the power generated by your solar panels directly to your utility company, allowing you to seamlessly sell off any excess energy that your system produces. This type of inverter is the most common in urban areas because it doesn’t require extra space for a battery, and it’s almost always the least expensive option. Since the solar panels are strung together in a 4 to 5 panel system, you will run the risk of decreased power generation if one of those panels becomes shaded before the other along the string. They will also come with an anti-islanding protection, which shuts your system down completely if there is a power outage in your area in order to protect utility workers that may be working on the system.
What it means for your energy bill: With any grid-tied system, your electric bill may fluctuate, meaning that some months you’ll make money and other months you’ll need to pay for extra power on the grid.
Stand Alone Inverters
If you would rather be completely off-grid, then a stand-alone inverter is the way to go. Solar generated power is switched from DC to AC directly within the inverter and then stored in an onsite rechargeable battery. These types of systems will remain completely operational regardless of whether there is a power outage; however, you do not have any connection to backup power in the event that your solar panels are unable to generate enough power for days on end. These systems are going to be more expensive since they require more equipment, and they’ll need additional garage or utility closet space.
What it means for your energy bill: Since your home will be completely independent, you will never have an energy bill.
Combining the net-grid energy failsafe with the self-reliance of a rechargeable battery, dual inverters give you the best of both worlds. With these inverters, the DC solar power is first stored in the battery, and then when power is needed, the energy leaves the battery to be converted into usable AC. Once the battery has been fully charged, though, all excess energy generated is sent directly to the utility company. For obvious reasons, dual inverters are going to be the most expensive option on the market.
What it means for your energy bill: Assuming no system failures, your energy bill will be $0 at worst, and making you money at best.
Regardless of the type of inverter you choose, be sure to select one that has a slightly higher capacity than your peak energy usage. This will ensure that you always have enough available power, regardless of how many major appliances are pulling from the system.
Thanks again, Courtni at Modernize!!
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Industry leader EcoFasten Solar designs, engineers, and manufactures patented, watertight solar roof mounts. The company provides mounting solutions that are easy to install, cost-effective, rugged in fabrication, and unsurpassed in quality. Comprised of a seasoned and growing team of professionals with talent, ability, and drive, all EcoFasten Solar products are precision-designed with the installer in mind.