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Warnings and disclaimer

Always read all of the pages and subjects before starting a solar system installation - If you are unqualified or in any doubt about your own ability then consult a qualified solar system installer.

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Picture of sun and solar panel as a solar logoInverters

Solar Power - Free energy from natural resources

A 300 watt inverter ideal for the smaller solar panel system 600w modified sine wave inverter
Inverters come in all shapes and sizes and equally in price range as well. You can expect to pay anything from £50 - £2,000 depending on what your requirement from your inverter is. Generally you get what you pay for with inverters, so work out your loads and add a bit for any future requirement.

The INVERTER is the electronic device that converts the 12, 24, or 48 volt DC current from the battery into AC current (240 volts), the same as the power for standard household lights, sockets outlets, and appliances.

There are basically two types of inverters: modified sine wave and sine wave. The differences are quite small but significant when they power certain types of equipment .

Modified sine wave

Modified inverters can adequately power most household appliances (about 95%) and power tools. They are more economical with the power, but for some certain loads such as microwave ovens, laser printers, clocks and cordless tool chargers you may experience a problem.

Pure Sine wave

Pure sine wave inverters supply power of better quality than the modified inverter, and work correctly with more or less any appliance.

Solving the inverter issues: It may be an advantage financially to mix your requirement by having a modified sine wave inverter for most of your requirement, and smaller special pure sine wave inverter for when you have appliances that require pure true sine wave power.

Inverters are rated by their continuous wattage output and can briefly sustain higher loads than they can run continuously, because some loads mainly with motors, require a power surge to start. You therefore have to allow for this surge in your estimation of your power requirement. Good manufacturers state the continuous load and the surge load capacity as the inverter in the right hand picture above does i.e. 600 watts continuous and a 1500 watt surge. Most manufacturers give quite clear information these days in the hand books or operating instructions, its just a matter of getting used to looking for them.

Lets look at an example, say you want to run a 15-inch TV, a VCR, and two lights at once. Total up all the wattage's, about 32 watts for the TV, 25 watts for the VCR, and 14W for the two lights, this is a total of 71 Watts. Now pick an inverter that can supply at least 71 watts continuously, and you are ready to go. Obviously if you want to use appliances with a surge load then you must make allowances for that.

Powering a whole house full of appliances and lights will take more planning and working out. Not every appliance and light will all be on at the same time. Mid - sized inverters of 600 to 1,500 watts do a good job of running lights, stereo equipment, small kitchen appliances and chargers for all those gadgets. These mid - sized inverters will not run a middle ranged microwave, a washing machine, or some larger handheld power tools. For these substantial loads you need an inverter rated at about 2000 watts. Experience shows that once you start thinking about an inverter of this size you tend to end up with a full-size inverter because household requirements always grow, and the larger inverters are the better solution in the end.

All inverters produce heat albeit small amounts and the more you have plugged in and working the hotter it will get before finally cutting out or limiting their output. With global warming an issue learn to choose appliances that are designed to have power saving features and it will help to keep your load down.

Some hi-fi and stereo equipment can pick up a 60-cycle buzz heard through the speakers. It won't hurt the equipment, but it's very annoying and not what you want to put up with. There are far too many models to say specifically which are a problem and which aren't. More recently manufacturers are starting to put better power supplies into their products, this has been a personal bug of mine as quite blatantly manufacturers of set top boxes etc have under specified their equipment in an effort to produce smaller and cheaper models. I have given up counting how many power supplies I have replaced over the years due to overheating because they are under specified.

Some expensive power audio products are protected by SCRs or Triacs. This circuitry is installed to protect against power line spikes and surges. Some however, see modified sine wave as no good and will prevent the unpure power from reaching the delicate inner circuitry and will not power up. The only sure cure for this is a pure sine wave inverter. Your biggest concern I am sure will be your computer and I can assure you that 99% of computers run well on modified sine wave power inverters. Laser printers are not a good choice because they have a high standby power use while the good old inkjet printers will do the same job more or less while only using about 30 watts instead of 900 plus watts.

A word about Phantom loads: lots of modern appliances remain partially on when they appear to be turned off, although the pressure is now on for manufacturers to change this method of standby. If you have appliances that are powered up by remote controls (zappers) these have to remain partially on and waiting to receive an 'on' signal. All appliances with digital clocks, microwave ovens, coffee makers, set top boxes and bedside clocks use small amounts of power all the time that can collectively demand quite a bit of power. Everything that uses a transformer plugged into the wall 240 volt AC socket uses tiny amounts of power, apart from the power wasted they can make some automatic inverters stay turned on and running constantly.

free energy  button How to wire up a basic solar panel system
Is your battery bank correctly wired up?
free energy  button All About Inverters in a solar system
free energy  button The Big Live Solar Panel Experiment
See how our 27w solar panel performs under live conditions
free energy  button Battery care
free energy  button Looking after a leisure battery
free energy  button Solar circuits and solar power circuitry
free energy  button Choosing and using your wire in your solar system

Always read the page above before starting a solar installion.

Global Warming - it's why we are making changes to our way of life!

David Bellamy has a very interesting article on global warming where he gives another point of view, Read the article

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