Solar energy provides you with a self-sustaining power system. Still, the energy is not available in a format that you could charge your laptop or power your bedside lamp directly from the panels since panels produce DC power. So, how do you convert the energy into a usable form?
By using solar inverters!
The different types of solar inverters serve the basic common purpose of changing the power produced by the solar panel system into a form you can use – the AC current.
It is the same as supposing you have a fistful of dollars, but you can’t pay for dinner until you exchange it for INR.
Similarly, your home works on alternating current (AC) power, but solar panels produce a direct current (DC). The inverters transform the raw DC power into AC power so that you can power your appliances.
These incredibly important components of rooftop solar systems come in three main types.
The following guide will help you understand the difference between the three types of solar inverters and decide which one suits you the best.
Types of Solar Inverters
Solar inverters fall into three types: on-grid, off-grid, and hybrid inverters. These inverters are available in different input capacity ranges, such as 12 volt DC, 48 volt DC, or even 96 volt DC.
But without getting into the technicalities, let us take a closer look at the three main types of solar inverters.
- – On-Grid Solar Inverter: Compatible with an on-grid solar system, i.e., the ones connected to the grid. It plays a major role in converting DC power into AC power.
- – Off-Grid Solar Inverter: An essential component of the off-grid solar power system for converting DC power to AC power.
- – Hybrid Solar Inverter: It works with both on-grid and off-grid solar power systems.
What is the Difference Between On-grid, Off-grid, and Hybrid Solar Inverters?
Now, we know that every pre-installed solar power system seeks a particular type of solar inverter.
Let us understand the key differences between the three types of solar inverters.
1. On-grid inverter
An on-grid solar inverter has an additional safety feature — Anti Islanding Protection. This feature allows it to shut down the power supply from the solar panel system for home when there is an electrical arc.
Anti-islanding is compulsory because if electricity flow continues from the solar panels while a lineman works at the site of the fault, there are possibilities of an electrical hazard.
This inverter also sends the excess electricity into the utility grid via a bi-directional meter.
2. Off-grid inverter
This inverter is a two-way device. It is also known as a solar battery inverter or stand-alone inverter. It stays connected to a battery bank wherein the extra solar power produced by solar panels gets stored.
The off-grid solar inverter draws stored energy from the battery bank whenever there is a power cut (when sunlight is unavailable or at nighttime).
It then converts DC current from the battery to usable AC current and supplies it to the house for running electrical appliances.
3. Hybrid inverter
A combination of on-grid and off-grid solar features is called a hybrid solar inverter.
This inverter will serve all your purposes. It will:
- – Supply power to your house by converting DC power from solar panels to AC power
- – Charge your solar batteries
- – Feed excess power to the grid.
So, this inverter serves as a complete package by intelligently managing power from your solar panels, utility grid, and solar batteries.
Moreover, you can use them without batteries in on-grid solar power systems. But in that case, they will be an expensive option.
The following table compares the three types of solar inverters:
|Compatible with||On-Grid Solar Power Systems||Off-Grid Solar power Systems||Both On-Grid & Off-Grid Solar Power Systems|
|Energy Storage||No solar energy is stored.||Solar energy is stored in batteries.||Solar energy can be stored in batteries.|
|Power Transfer to Grid||Excess power gets transferred to the utility grid.||Power is not transferred because it is not connected to a grid.||Excess power gets transferred to the utility grid.|
|Anti Islanding Feature||Present||Absent||Present|
|Price Range||A 3kW On-Grid Inverter costs about Rs. 30,000- Rs.40,000.||A 3kW Off-Grid Inverter costs about Rs. 30,000- Rs.40,000.||A 3kW Hybrid Grid Inverter costs about Rs. 70,000- Rs.80,000.|
What to Look for in a Solar Inverter?
Here are a few things to look for when shopping for solar inverters.
Solar Inverter Warranties
Purchasing electronic devices with warranties is a relief for all, and solar inverters are no exception. These inverters come with 5 and 10 years of warranty. They can also be extended up to 25 years.
Also, when buying an inverter, ensure that you know what is included in the warranty and what isn’t.
You must understand whether the warranty covers an internal glitch or just external damage. Will you have to pay for shipping if damage occurs and you send it for repair?
Inquire and get satisfied before you purchase.
Solar Inverter Operating Temperatures
Operating temperature is the temperature range that is the safest for a solar inverter.
An inverter naturally generates some heat. Moreover, conditions aren’t always ideal, and at times a solar inverter has to work harder.
So, you must choose a solar inverter with a high operating temperature. The higher the operating temperature, the more heat it can handle, and the better it will serve you.
Solar Inverter Efficiency
The efficiency of a solar inverter cover two numbers:
- – Peak efficiency
- – Weighted efficiency
While peak efficiency explains the efficiency of a solar inverter when it’s running optimally, weighted efficiency includes variables like DC input levels.
Weighted efficiency will give you a more accurate gauge as temperature, sunshine, and other environmental elements will affect your inverter throughout the day.
The different types of solar inverters have different roles to play depending on the solar power system you choose.
Although a hybrid solar inverter can serve the functions of the other two types, it is an expensive option.
So, choose wisely as per your need.
Q. How many types of solar inverters are there?
The types of solar inverters are as follows:
- – Hybrid solar inverter
- – Off-grid solar inverter
- – On-grid solar inverter
Also, these different types of solar inverters can be string inverters or microinverters.
String inverters are connected to a string of solar panels, while microinverters are connected to individual modules.
Q. Which types of solar inverters help save you maximum on electricity bills?
Amongst all the types of solar inverters, an off-grid solar inverter can save you altogether from an electricity bill because they make your solar panel system self-sufficient. You are no longer tied to a utility grid.
However, it is wiser to opt for on-grid solar power systems and inverters because the utility grid offers you a power backup, plus you can enjoy subsidies offered by the government.
You can also sell the extra energy produced by your solar panels and earn money.
Q. What are the disadvantages of purchasing an off-grid solar inverter?
The disadvantages of off-grid solar inverters are as follows:
- – The solar battery systems demand regular maintenance
- – Your battery may not be fully charged in case of insufficient sunlight, and you may face electricity issues as you are not connected in any way to the grid.