Inverters have been around for a long time, offering great utility, but not all can process solar energy. But if you have one and you also plan on shifting to solar energy, you might be wondering whether you can convert the same inverter to a solar inverter or not.
Normal inverters, also called standalone inverters, can be converted into solar inverters. Both have similar functions, except normal inverters are not designed to input solar energy, regulate it and process it. For that, normal inverters need more components.
Before discussing how you can convert a normal inverter to a solar inverter, let’s first discuss how these inverters are different.
Normal inverter vs. solar inverter: differences
Normal inverters are designed to connect with the grid, batteries, and main panel. The inverters are equipped with an adapter that converts the AC power of the grid supply to DC, and the inverter charges the batteries with this DC.
When an appliance is powered through the inverter, the inverter simply converts the DC power from the battery to AC and powers the appliance. It also ensures the battery charging remains within an optimal range for higher lifespan and efficiency. Besides that, inverters also auto-switch the home mains from the grid to the inverter if the grid supply turns off.
The overall function is almost the same, except there is no functionality to control the charge coming from the solar panels. Moreover, if the solar inverter has to be a hybrid, it also needs to be capable of powering the grid with solar energy entering the inverter. This function differentiates solar inverters from normal inverters.
Normal inverters can be converted to solar inverters if a charge controller is connected to them. It gives the inverter the capability to control the charge coming from the solar panels and regulate it. Before proceeding to how you can connect a solar charge controller with a normal inverter to make it a solar inverter, let’s first understand the function of a solar charge controller.
What is a charge controller?
The energy generated by solar panels variates with sunlight and other environmental conditions. Accordingly, the DC voltages and DC supplied from the solar panel array to the inverter also variate.
Since the inverters need steady energy to charge solar batteries and power appliances, variating energy from the solar panel can damage the equipment. Moreover, the solar array works like a constant current source, which can damage the equipment if not regulated.
This is where solar charge controllers help regulate the energy. Solar charge controllers are connected to the solar array output, inverter, batteries, and appliances. It regulates the DC voltages and DC according to the specifications.
It ensures all the equipment is supplied energy according to the demand. Most solar charge controllers also have DC outputs for directly powering DC appliances.
So, now that you know what charge controllers do, you might wonder why you never get to see a charge controller connected to a solar inverter. Modern solar inverters have a built-in charge controller, which helps reduce the overall package size and cost.
Precautions to take when converting inverter to solar inverter
The connection between the solar charge controller, inverter, and other equipment is simple. It is usually the same as elucidated in the above figure. However, depending on the design, it can vary slightly from type to type. However, there are some precautions that you need to consider while converting your normal inverter to a solar inverter.
- Not all inverters can perform well if connected to a charge controller. Make sure the inverter can function with a charge controller.
- Both the charge controller and the inverter must be compatible. Inverters and charge controllers come in various specifications; not all are compatible.
- If you already have batteries connected to the inverter, ensure the charge controller is compatible with the batteries. If their voltages or current specification do not match, it may reduce the batteries’ lifespan.
- Always ground the charge controllers and inverter for system reliability and safety.
Converting normal inverters to solar inverters is simple. You can upgrade your old inverter to a solar inverter with just a charge controller and enjoy solar energy. However, it will not be as efficient and reliable as a new solar inverter.
Modern solar inverters offer far more features than just converting solar energy into electricity. They are easy to manage, monitor and maintain. They have better protection systems that make them more reliable. Moreover, the brands like Bahoo Power ensure solar inverters provide maximum efficiency with minimal losses while keeping your home safe.
For these reasons, it is recommended to buy a solar inverter rather than converting your old inverter.