Learn about inverters that change the direct current, or DC, received from solar panels into AC, or alternating current. This power is used for household appliances such as air conditioners, TVs and microwaves. Tapping this free electricity made from the sun’s rays comes with a hidden cost; the technology is relatively new and homeowners experience a variety of problems with inverters for solar power.
Problems with Single Inverters
Most solar power systems use a single inverter to convert all of the energy gathered by the linked solar panels into usable current. A weakness in this system causes a reduced amount or no power at all to arrive at the inverter when shade, dust or even bird droppings obscure part of one the solar panels. A single inverter links all of the panels together and requires they all are working at the same level and of the same kind to produce electricity. Mini-inverters fitted to each panel allow different types of panel to be linked together to power your home and also let each panel collect energy separately. When one panel has a problem from shade or a malfunction, the others continue to produce a full amount of electricity.
Inverters and Phantom Power Problems
Phantom power draws occur when appliances are plugged into your house electrical supply but not switched on and draw minimal amounts of current. This is important to know for homes using solar power systems and an inverter, because the inverter cannot go into sleep mode while the phantom draw is occurring. A sleep mode uses less electricity and enables your inverter to last longer, because it is not operating at peak performance for 24 hours a day. Solutions to this problem are unplugging devices and using power strips with switches that can stop any currant leakages.
Inverters Cause Interference with Other Appliances
Interference to TV, radio reception and odd sounds heard while using the telephone or playing music on audio equipment can be because of your inverter. Inverters contain electrical circuitry that produces interference; this is minimized by relocating your inverter. The best place to site your inverter is next to the batteries. If that move does not significantly reduce or stop interference, try twisting the cables between the battery and inverter together and moving any AC wiring away from telephone cables.
Problems with Costs, Repairs and Bills
Inverter failures result in two bills: one for repairs and replacement of damaged or worn out parts, and another for the main grid electricity you use while your solar system is down. When an inverter fails, it might damage the batteries that store your electricity before any issues are detected. A broken inverter sending too high a load of electricity to the batteries shortens their life. A solar inverter lasts anywhere between 10 and 20 years before it requires replacement.
- Photo Credit Solar image by Thomas Leiss from Fotolia.com
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