When considering solar, one thing you want to know is how to choose a solar inverter for the system. Find that out right here— we have everything that first-time solar shoppers need to know about selecting solar inverters, from what type to use for what situation and other considerations.
How to Choose Solar Inverter
Few people have a comprehensive understanding of solar inverters and what they do for a solar system. This can make finding the right inverter difficult, especially when you’re just starting out with solar. Not to worry, this article is meant to guide you on how to choose an inverter for solar system applications.
First, let’s start with the basics:
Solar inverters are devices that take in and change DC (direct current) electricity from your solar panels into alternating current or AC electricity. It can be a simple RV solar inverter for off-grid application or a grid-tie residential solar inverter for homes.
Because inverters are available in a range of sizes and types, it’s important that you choose the right one for your solar system. Here, below, is what you need to know when it comes to shopping for this important piece of solar equipment.
How to Choose Inverter for Solar System
Knowing how to choose a solar inverter can save you a lot of time, money, and ensure efficient energy yield in the long run. Not all inverters are created equal and there are a few key factors that you should keep in mind when making your decision: They are:
Solar Inverter Application
What do you need the inverter for? The answer to this question will help you determine which type of inverter is right for you. If you’re looking for a solar inverter for home power needs, then you’ll need a different inverter than if you’re looking to run industrial equipment.
Choose an inverter that will be able to handle the amount of power you need it to and is also scalable. This applies if you already have a solar system, are looking to do a solar inverter upgrade in the future, or are just planning ahead.
Type of Solar Inverter
The type of solar inverter matters in many ways. Some types are suited for a specific use or particular solar systems, while others fit specific climates better. There are also costly and less costly types and your budget will play a role in the type of inverter you can get.
The three main types of solar inverters are: string inverters, microinverters, and power optimizers. Let’s see how to go about selecting the type to go for.
- String inverters are a cost-effective option, affordable and easy to install. Choose these if your solar panels are guaranteed to get the same amount of sunlight throughout the year. Also, if you’re starting on a low budget but intending to install a large number of solar panels.
- Microinverters are the most efficient types of PV inverters, but also the most expensive. We suggest choosing them if your installation is not very big, you have shading issues, or if you live in an area with changing weather conditions. They will make the most of your solar panels’ potential.
- Power optimizers are a good middle ground choice: more efficient than string inverters and less expensive than microinverters. They are perfect for installations that might experience shading or a climate that lowers panel efficiency, such as high temperatures and cloudy conditions.
Solar Inverter Capacity
The capacity of your solar inverter will determine how much power it can handle. Make sure you choose a size big enough for your needs. That being said, you also don’t want to get an inverter that is unnecessarily large for your solar system.
The capacity of your solar inverter will be indicated in kilowatts (kW). A 1kW inverter can handle 1,000 watts of DC power. If you’re unsure of how much power you need, a good rule of thumb is to choose an inverter that is about the same size or slightly higher than that of the solar array.
Solar Inverter Efficiency
The efficiency of solar inverter devices is how well they convert DC power from your solar panels into AC power. The higher the efficiency, the less power is lost in the conversion process. Efficiency is typically expressed as a percentage and ranges from about 93-98%.
The most efficient inverters are typically also the most expensive. However, a solar inverter efficiency comparison should guide you to the best balance between cost and efficiency level. If you’re on a budget, we suggest looking for an inverter with an efficiency of 95% or higher.
Solar Inverter Warranty
When choosing a solar inverter, be sure to compare the warranties offered by different manufacturers. Most inverters come with a standard warranty of 2-10 years. Some manufacturers also offer extended warranties for specific inverters such as microinverters.
A solar inverter warranty comparison can give you an idea of how long the manufacturer expects the inverter to last. A longer warranty often means a higher quality product. However, we also suggest finding out more about each manufacturer.
Cost of Solar Inverter
Just as with any other product, the solar inverter cost can vary depending on the brand, type, and features. In general, string inverters are the most affordable option while microinverters are the most expensive.
The size of your solar system will also play a role in the cost of your inverter. A smaller system will require a less expensive inverter than a large system.
Be sure to compare the cost of different solar inverter brands and types to find the best deal. It’s also important to consider the quality of the inverter and the warranty offered by the manufacturer alongside the cost, as mentioned earlier.
Other Factors to Consider
The above factors are the most important when choosing a solar inverter. However, there are a few others that you may want to keep in mind, whether you want to buy solar inverters for your renewable energy business or direct use.
- Maximum power point tracking (MPPT): This is a feature that allows the inverter to extract the maximum possible power from your solar panels. It’s especially useful in locations with changing weather conditions.
- Inverter Auto Shut-Off: This is a safety feature that shuts off the inverter if it overheats or overloads. You want the feature in your inverter to protect your investment.
- Inverter Display: Some inverters come with a display that shows you information about your solar system. If this is something you’re interested in, be sure to look for an inverter with a display type that you’re happy with.
- Inverter Certifications: Be sure to check that the inverter you’re considering is certified by a reputable organization such as UL and IEC. This will ensure the best quality inverter that meets industry standards.
Now that you know how to choose an inverter for solar panels, you can begin looking for the best type for your solar system. Only be sure to purchase from a reputable dealer or installer to ensure that you’re getting the best when it comes to quality.
The inverter is the most critical component of your solar system investment. As such, you want to use the best type. Knowing how to choose a solar inverter will help ensure you will be getting the most out of the investment. Based on the considerations discussed in this article, be sure to do your research for a quality device that will adequately meet your energy needs.