Whether your home solar power project is a Do It Yourself (DIY) or readymade kit, you will require an inverter to convert Direct Current (DC) power into Alternating Current (AC). Reason being, most modern household electrical equipment runs on AC.
Inverters can be very expensive and are therefore an important factor in your project. If the solar system is to provide power at a remote location as a small farm or “new forest house”, then you need to buy one that suits your needs.
Begin by looking at the type of appliances and what the charges will be. Check the power requirements and continuous discharge current. You can find cheaper modified square wave inverter to do the job instead of sine wave units which are more expensive.
While you can buy cheap inverters, most people would agree that you get what you pay for, so here are 9 tips when comparing units.
1) Safety measures
Many people put this as a final consideration, however, you must consider the security aspect of the unit you intend to purchase. You need to know if the inverter complies with all relevant safety standards and RFI in the country you live in.
2) Power output
Check the power output of the inverter unit. Note that larger units may not meet your household energy needs. Find an inverter that provides information about the continuous, intermittent (30 minutes), and overvoltage category. Larger inverters can be less efficient at very small loads than smaller inverters.
Lightweight transformerless inverters cannot have the capacity to handle peaks load period. Look for units that fit your needs for energy rather than capacity.
3) Type of wave
The best power inverter produces a pure sine wave. Many inverters that are cheaper are called “modified” square or sine wave unit. While the square wave units are cheaper, some devices such as fans, washing machines, stereos, digital clocks and timers do not work as well and will run slower, hotter or louder than a pure sine wave unit.
4) Power pending
The inverter has a standby or autostart. This can significantly reduce their energy consumption, without this feature, the unit can take a lot of energy from your battery bank. Also check the amount of power used when the inverter is waiting to detect a small charge.
5) Input management
When your solar panel system is in operation and the batteries are charging, the output can vary from a low of perhaps 10 volts to 15.5 volts. A good inverter must operate with input voltages between 10 and 16 volts.
Make sure that the inverter maintains its output frequency by 0.01% and less than 4% harmonic distortion. You should also check that the inverter can maintain its output voltage AC within 3 – 5% of the desired tension.
Ask how efficient the inverter is given the specifications of “maximum efficiency” or demonstrate how it is done with small loads of 50 to 100 watts to rated power.
8) Diagnosis mode
What on board diagnostic does the inverter has? You can identify low and high battery, overload and overheating with certain internal diagnosis system.
9) Warranty coverage
What kind of warranty on the unit and what the service agreements are? Try to look for inverter manufacturers with service centers as close as possible. Also, look for a long period of warranty and local service.
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