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3 tips to keep your inverter humming for a long time.

An inverter is an important element of a solar power system. As you may or may not know the inverter turns DC (direct current) produced by solar panels or wind turbines into AC (Alternating Current) which our household appliances need. The inverter acts like a conversion device and its important to keep the unit functioning properly to get the most juice out of your system. Inverters typically have at least a 10 year manufacturer warranty, the following tips can keep your inverter running in tip top condition for many years.

1. Don’t mount the inverter in places with direct sunlight – its important to keep the inverter cool, therefore the best places to mount the inverter would be your garage or the side of the house that is shaded or not directly in the sun. The last thing you want to do is bake your inverter in the beating sun.

2. Outdoor enclosure – If you decide to mount your inverter outside in the shade it is important to put inverter in a waterproof enclosure. You can buy enclosures at any electrical supply store. You want to make sure the inverter stays dry at all times, it can be very dangerous to allow the inverter to get wet.

EDIT: thanks the to reader comment to improve the quality of this post, I should of been more specific here. Some inverters need a to be put in a enclosures while most have weatherproof casing around them, which would not require an enclosure. It depends on the inverter if you need an enclosure or not.

3. Use Compatible equipment – many times people destroy inverters because they using incompatible equipment. For example if you buy a 1kW (kilowatt) inverter don’t try to plug in 1.5kW (kilowatts) of solar panels, overloading an inverter will destroy it. If the inverter is made for solar panels, don’t plug in a wind turbine or a combination of solar and wind. Also grid-tied inverters are not compatible with a battery backup bank. Read the instruction manual before you purchase an inverter so you know what is compatible. Also make sure you use the proper size wiring that is recommended in the owners manual.

EDIT: Overloading an inverter could destroy it. Again depending on the type of inverter. Some inverters will just decrease in performance when you exceed the rated watts, although some inverters will get damaged. Also something to consider, if you go over the rated wattage, will the manufacturer honor the warranty if something goes wrong?

Author: Deep Patel

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2 Comments

  1. Who wrote this? Much of it is simply wrong and quite misleading.
    Point 1) about avoiding direct sunlight on the inverter is accurate; excess heat can cause the inverter to limit output and statistically shortens the life of all electronics.
    Point 2) is completely incorrect. Most grid-tie inverters are specifically designed for outdoor applications with exposure to wind, rain, and snow. Putting the inverter inside a sealed enclosure prevents cooling.
    Point 3) is also incorrect: exceeding the inverter’s maximum input voltage will likely damage the inverter. Exceeding rated wattage will only cause the inverter to limit AC output during peak conditions, and isn’t good economics, but won’t destroy the inverter. But the more serious issue here is that the article appears to be aimed at the do-it-yourself installer. PV isn’t a do-it-yourself technology; 400VDC can kill you and can cause a fire. Work with a knowledgable professional installer to ensure a safe and Code-compliant installation, as well as an array properly matched to its inverter.

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  2. a sindelar,

    thanks for the comment. to reply to your comment, MOST inverters are weather proof, but some are not, therefore in some situations you will need a weather proof box. Actually we offer an inverter that needs casing if it is mounted outdoors, I should of been more clear on that point.

    let me ask you a question, if you are exceeding the rated wattage on an inverter and something goes wrong with the inverter will the manufacturer honor their warranty?

    also there are PLENTLY of people out there that have done small scale installations on their own that are safer then professional installations and code compliant. You would be surprised how many electrical / tech savvy people there are out there. Obviously do-it-yourself is NOT for everyone but there is a segment of the population that will DIY. Why do you think home depot and lowes are such big businesses?

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