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.  
  • Maximizing 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 solar inverters.

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.

Environmental Impact

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.

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