We live in an era marked by the ominous challenges of climate change and skyrocketing energy costs. But there’s good news: there’s never been a better time to make the big leap by transitioning your home to solar energy. Now, just about every homeowner understands that turning that free and abundant energy from the sun in the sky into clean and green usable electricity requires solar panels. But you may be surprised how often our Queensland solar electricians hear the questions: “What is a solar inverter?” and “how do inverters work”?

What is a solar inverter?

So let’s dive right in because without a solar inverter, those panels on your roof will still do all the hard work of capturing that delicious sunlight and turning it into electricity – but it will be useless for your household appliances and systems. Why’s that? Because the electricity those panels will make is direct current (DC) – and what our homes require is alternating current (AC). To keep it simple, the sun’s rays hit the photovoltaic cells and trigger a direct flow of electrons – DC power. It then needs to be fed into something that turns that simple DC power into electricity that can change direction (AC) – and for that, we need the solar panel inverter.

How do solar inverters work?

And what is a solar inverter? It looks like a compact, bow-like device, often mounted near your property’s main electrical panel, either indoors or outdoors. And how does an inverter work? Let’s keep it super-simple and as non-technical as humanly possible – and explain it step-by-step for you.

1. A ray of light

Imagine a ray of sunlight, travelling millions of kilometres from the sun to the solar panel on your roof. It hits the panel, the photovoltaic cell absorbs it, and it excites electrons – creating direct current (DC) electricity.

2. Conversion initiation

This DC electricity travels through wiring from the solar panel to wherever your solar inverter is located. Think of that inverter as a translator, taking the foreign DC language and converting it into the AC language that your household appliances speak.

3. The inverter’s inner workings

Inside the inverter, there’s a set of electronic components that work together including transformers, inductors and capacitors. They collaborate beautifully to change the characteristics of the electricity.

4. Pulse width modulation

One of the most critical processes occurring in the inverter is called Pulse Width Modulation (PWM). By using electronic switches, it turns the DC on and off rapidly, triggering a series of pulses. The length and spacing of these pulses almost perfectly mimics the wave-like pattern of AC electricity.

5. Creating the AC wave

These pulses are then smoothed out and refined by the inverter’s filters, resulting in a sine wave – the exact shape of standard, fully-useable AC electricity.

6. Final check & adjustment

Your inverter will then check the voltage and frequency of the power it’s converting to make sure it matches what’s going on in the electrical grid and your home – which is what your appliances and household systems require to work.

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7. Powering your home

That DC power has become AC electricity, which is what your home needs. The newly-created AC power then flows into your home’s electrical panel – and is ready to be used by your TV, fridge, lights and anything else that would otherwise require mains grid power.

Your solar inverter journey: What’s next?

As you can tell, the solar inverter is critical for transforming the raw potential of free and abundant sunlight into usable power for your home. At Solar Repair Service, we provide comprehensive repair and maintenance services for all leading brands of solar systems, solar panels, and solar inverters across Brisbane, the Sunshine Coast, Ipswich & beyond. Got an inverter issue or question or any other solar-related need? Give Solar Repair Service a call today to keep that green, free energy flowing seamlessly.