How it Works
Inverters have several functions for using and maximizing
power in your home:
- DC to AC
Conversion: The main use for a power inverter is to convert DC power into
usable AC electricity. Convert power from sources like a solar panel or wind
turbine into electricity for your lights and electronic devices.
- Power Grid
Connection: Connect your residential power source with the power grid. This
allows you to sell off any excess power you generate back to the utility
company for maximum cost and energy savings.
Power: Inverters also work to maximize power, charge your system’s
batteries and protect your circuits from unexpected surges.
Inverters are generally mounted near the electrical panel
and connected to your solar panel or wind turbine. Wind turbine inverters are
built to take the stress of varying wind patterns, but are otherwise similar to
Most home solar panel systems use a singular inverter, but
micro-inverters are growing in popularity. Micro-inverters are attached to the
back of each panel, inverting the current at each panel.
What Can Go Wrong?
Inverter failures account for more than 75 percent of wind
and solar power system failures. Inverters break down more quickly than other
components in these power systems with an average lifetime between 8 and 12
years. Breakdowns are commonly caused by ongoing temperature shifts, voltage
surges, short circuits and other line disturbances. The control module will
have to be replaced if it breaks down.
Inverters have energy
efficiency ratings based on how much power they can convert from DC to AC and
how much power they use. Modern power inverters use very little power and
typically have an energy efficiency rating higher than 90 percent.