Solar inverters are an integral component of your solar + battery system, yet they’re rarely talked about. While battery storage is the essential ingredient for energy independence – giving you the ability to store and use your energy how you please – the solar process wouldn’t be possible without the tireless efforts of your solar inverter. So, what is a solar inverter? And how do inverters and batteries work together?
What does a solar inverter do?
While different solar inverters are used for various solar systems, commonly, they convert the direct current (DC) energy generated by your panels into alternating current (AC) electricity to use in the home. This is primarily present in grid-based systems, which cannot store energy. However, you still need an inverter if you have a battery – read on to find out why.
A solar PV inverter also plays an important role in providing communication, not just between the equipment of your solar + battery system but also for owners. They help you track your system’s electrical generation so you can streamline and maximise your system’s power output. For example, Plico members have an app for tracking and managing their generated energy – inverters play a large part in quantifying this information.
What are the different types of solar inverters?
There are four main types of solar inverters, each embodying slightly different characteristics and functions: string inverters, microinverters, battery inverters, and hybrid inverters.
Let’s have a look at how they differ:
A string inverter is one of the longest-standing and most common PV inverters. They get their name from the way they connect a ‘string’ of panels, absorbing their generated DC energy and converting it into AC energy for immediate use. It’s for immediate use because string inverters are primarily utilised in grid-based solar systems, meaning that whatever power isn’t used is pushed back onto the electrical grid. A significant detraction of string inverters is that all your panels are connected, working symbiotically. This means that if one panel experiences a reduction in sunlight – such as partial shade – power generation reduces across all the panels.
A microinverter is different in the sense that it tends to work on a one to one basis with your solar panels. They started rising in prominence because they aren’t capped by their lowest producing solar panel like string inverters. They’re proven performers in maximising your power generation but cannot be linked directly to batteries, meaning they’re slowing falling to the side as storage has become the present and future of solar.
A battery inverter converts your stored DC energy into AC for you to use in the home. The detraction of battery inverters is that they function as an additional component for your battery – they can’t replace your microinverters or string inverter. This means an increase in cost and maintenance.
A hybrid inverter mitigates this issue by combining solar and battery inverters into one unit. This means that your panels and battery are being fuelled and managed by the same piece of technology – increasing the accuracy of the information it provides you with (think, Plico app) and decreasing installation and maintenance costs.
You can read more about hybrid inverters in our article What is a Hybrid Inverter?.
What happens when you pair solar inverters with batteries?
So as you can see, a solar inverter with a battery is a necessity – you can’t use your stored electricity without an inverter. They are the quiet workers in the engine room.
As we become more equipped and savvy in our solar management, batteries aren’t a luxurious addition anymore – they’re a requirement. Batteries are the difference between being in control of your power generation or still being reliant on the grid (and the significant cost attached to that). With this in mind, hybrid inverters are your best choice as they can act as an energy converter for both solar panels and batteries. By the way, no solar power system is complete without a battery.
Click the following link to learn more about how solar batteries work or this post on the best solar battery on the Australian market.
What type of inverter does Plico use?
Plico’s solar + battery solution has a smart hybrid inverter with a DC-coupled battery, which creates greater adaptability and efficiency as the generated power doesn’t need to be converted to AC right away. We use an Australian-designed inverter to ensure that it can withstand the harsh conditions symptomatic of our dry, hot continent and store your excess solar energy more effectively.
When our hybrid inverter is paired with our solar panels and battery, they help unlock comprehensive monitoring, increasing control over the system and optimising function.