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How to Decide which Inverter Charger is Best for You:
If you’re building any style of solar system, the quality and size of your power inverter is critical in order to effectively convert the DC power your harnessing into useable AC power. Generally speaking power output is the most important factor to consider when choosing an inverter. This page will touch on some of the important factors to consider when purchasing a power inverter as well as the different types and uses.
You’ll notice when shopping for an inverter that there is a good amount of technical slang that may be slightly confusing at first. That being said, let’s quickly cover some of thebasic technical terms we should understand.
Amps: the flow rate of "electrical current" that is available. Mathematically, Amps = Watts / Volts
Amp Hours: a unit of electric charge, having dimensions of electric current multiplied by time, equal to the charge transferred by a steady current of one amp flowing for one hour.
Watt Hours: Watt-hours measure amounts of energy for a specific period of time, and watts measure rates of power at a moment in time.
Watts: Watts is a measure of the amount of electricity being used - a rate of electrical power consumption.Watts = Volts x Amps
Volts: the potential difference across a conductor when a current of one amp dissipates one watt of power. Mathematically Volts = Watts / Amps
Peak/Surge Power: This is the most power the inverter can supply at any one time usually for up to a few seconds to a maximum of 10-15 minutes. Think for example when a sump pump kicks on, this will be the peak surge.
Typical/Usual Power: This is the amount of the power the inverter will supply on a continuous rating and will usually be quite a bit lower than the surge.
Types of Inverters:
Pure Sine Wave:These types of inverters are by far the most popular type because they provide cleaner more high quality energy (similar to grid tie quality) which means you shouldn’t have any issues when it comes to actually using the power you’re converting.
Modified Sine Wave:Modified inverters provide a lower quality energy which can sometimes cause issues with the appliances, and things you’re actually trying to power. Although they work great for smaller, off grid applications, they tend to be a little noisier and rougher, which leads to being less efficient overall that a pure sine wave.
We’ve outlined some buying tips to keep in mind when shopping for your power inverter - First, when deciding on what voltage you need, your solar panels, power inverter and battery bank all need to use the same voltage. When it comes to the watts rating, you’ll want to get an inverter that is almost equal or slightly more than your system’s watts rating so if you have a 3000-watt system, you’ll want a 3000-watt inverter.
If you’re looking to run multiple appliances off of your inverter, the easiest way to calculate whether the inverter will be capable to handle it, is to add up all the continuous watt ratings of each appliance that will be running at the same time. Again, the same principal applies for surge watts, you’ll want to add up the potential largest surge watts from your appliances and ensure the inverter is that many or slightly more watts. Most appliances will list their surge directly on them and from there you’ll want to assume that the surge is generally 1.5 to 2 times as much as the continuous watts. So if the highest surge watt rating on one of your appliances is 2000, you’ll need a power inverter with a little more than 2000 surge watts.
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