Solar energy is one of the world's most abundant energy sources. But the whole solar power system needs an inverter to convert it to power that people can use and store. This would ensure that the collected energy can be converted into and stored as usable electricity. But remember, a battery bank can only store direct current (DC). This is where battery inverters come into play.
This article will discuss what a battery inverter is and how it works. Learn how different it is from the other solar inverters to make it easier to identify which is which. If you plan to get one for your solar system, here are useful tips to get the right battery inverter for your needs.
What Are Battery Inverters?
Battery inverters are solar inverters that convert direct current (DC) electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity that you can use to power your home and devices. These are battery-specific inverters, meaning they’re used to charge and discharge a battery bank. They only have a battery port and not a photovoltaic (PV) port. So, they can’t replace your standard solar inverters like micro-inverters or string inverters.
A battery inverter is also considered an AC coupling solution. This is because instead of converting stored DC electricity into AC electricity, it also does the reverse — convert AC electricity back into DC electricity to charge and store back in the battery.
It’s more commonly used when using solar power systems while traveling on RVs or boats but is also popular for homes that want to store extra solar power.
Here are its known advantages over other types of solar inverters:
- Its modular nature offers greater flexibility to solar power system design.
- It has a long history of being used in stand-alone and off-grid power systems. So, they’re extremely durable and sturdy, even against harsh conditions.
- It can be easily retrofitted to an existing system to increase efficient power storage.
- It can track the battery’s state of charge and control the energy coming into it.
- It can signal the solar power system to charge the battery bank.
- It can be used with other power systems aside from a solar array.
How Do They Work?
Battery inverters play a crucial role in enhancing the efficiency and functionality of solar power systems by enabling energy storage. Here's a more detailed explanation of how they work:
Joining Solar Systems: Battery inverters are usually added to homes with solar power setups. They team up with solar panels and the power grid.
Changing DC to AC: Solar panels produce DC electricity from sunlight. A standard solar inverter, part of the system, switches this DC power into the kind of electricity your home and most devices use, called AC.
Storing Energy as DC: The battery inverter does a crucial job by taking extra electricity from the solar panels or grid and saving it in a battery bank. It converts the AC power back into DC power so that you can use it later. This is handy for saving up solar energy on sunny days to use during cloudy times or at night.
Powering Your Home: When you need electricity for your home or gadgets, the battery inverter flips the process. It transforms the stored DC power back into AC power, which your home's electrical gadgets and appliances need. This ability to switch between DC and AC is important because most things in your home work on AC power.
Thinking About Efficiency: Remember that every time electricity switches from DC to AC and back, a bit of energy is lost due to how the conversion works. These losses can impact how efficient your solar system is. But don't worry; modern battery inverters are made to cut these losses as much as possible. Different inverters have different efficiency levels. So, pick one that matches your needs and energy use patterns.
A battery inverter complements a solar power system by enabling excess energy storage and efficient use. It is an intermediary between the solar panels, the battery bank, and your home's electrical appliances. This ensures you can harness solar power's benefits even when the sun isn't shining.
Differences Between a Hybrid Inverter and Battery Inverter
A battery inverter is a type of solar inverter commonly confused with a hybrid inverter. This is mainly because a hybrid inverter, like a battery inverter, can also do the back-and-forth energy conversion.
But, unlike a battery inverter that’s an AC coupling solution, the hybrid inverter is a DC coupling solution. This means the DC power can be directly charged to a solar battery without AC conversion.
Here are more main differences between the two for your reference:
- There’s no possible power loss using hybrid inverters since there’s no back-and-forth conversion.
- You can’t add a hybrid inverter to an existing solar power system that already uses a standard PV inverter.
- The hybrid inverter fuels both the battery and solar panels, unlike the battery inverter, which is a dedicated technology for solar batteries.
Tips in Choosing a Battery Inverter for Your Solar System
If you plan to add a battery bank and inverter to your system, it’s important to ensure you’re getting the right battery inverter for your power needs. Here are a few tips you can follow to help you with that:
- Determine Your Power Requirements
This doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to calculate the total power your home needs. Just estimate how much power you’ll need to power all your appliances and devices. This would help you in choosing the best inverter and battery bank.
- Check the Voltage Rating
Solar batteries and panels have voltage ratings indicating how much voltage they can safely use. When choosing a battery inverter, you have to choose one that has a rating that matches those ratings of the battery and solar array.
- Look At the Features and Efficiency
Check what features the certain battery inverter model offers. However, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the more features, the better the inverter. It’s best to get one with lots of convenient features. Getting an inverter with features like Bluetooth monitoring and an app is recommended.
- Consider Surge Capacity
There are appliances that need a lot of power to start up, like air conditioning units and refrigerators. For good measures, make sure that the battery inverter you choose has enough surge capacity to handle these starting power requirements.
Battery inverters are essential to store your collected solar power efficiently. With one, you can use stored power as a backup when needed. Make sure to remember that it should be able to accommodate your home power needs. Its rating should also match the voltage ratings of the solar array and your battery. It's best if they have convenient features as well.
If you want to look at some great options, check out our solar battery inverter collection. We offer a wide range of high-quality inverters with amazing features from reliable brands!