Solar Inverters – a brief overview

Solar panels produce DC (direct current) when the silicon junction is exposed to light. A solar inverter converts this direct current to alternating current (AC power) which must be compatible with the grid so that domestic appliances can use the power.


Solar inverters become popular and are now mass produced as a result of the solar revolution taking place throughout the developed world. They are:

  • Efficient – most inverters convert power at efficiency levels above 95%.
  • Economical – mass production has brought the price of inverters down to about €300 for smaller models.
  • Environmentally Friendly – made from materials which can be recycled at end of life, and with no moving parts, to ensure longevity of the units themselves.
  • Very low maintenance – after the cost of initial installation, solar inverters are virtually maintenance free and durable.


  1. A Stand Alone Solar Inverter – It pulls direct current power from batteries charged by various resources such as diesel generators, solar panels and wind turbines. These inverters convert battery direct current into the alternating current (AC) to create a mini-grid when there is no grid present. These are usually used in homes or industrial buildings as a power backup and or for operating small appliances depending upon the wattage. They are also commonly known as off-grid inverters”


  1. A Grid Tie Solar Inverter – converts power from solar panels into AC power for transmission on the grid. This type of inverter must include a number of protections known as “anti islandint” to ensure that it does not send power to the grid during power cuts. This is essential for the safety of ESB staff working on power lines during an outage. Unfortunately this means that the panels cannot provide electricity during power cuts. In Ireland, inverter must meet EN50438 standards with some unique Irish variants.


How Does a Solar Inverter Work?

The main components of a solar power system are, solar panels to produce the power, an inverter to convert the power to AC and inject the power into the grid, Isolators to ensure that the system can be disconnected, and an MCB (trip switch). The electricity from the inverter flows into the household grid. From there it can either be used by appliances within the house, or if there is a surplus, it will be exported via a meter to the electricity mains grid.


The inverter is the “heart” of any solar power system. It not only converts the direct current generated by the solar panels to alternating current, but it also uses MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) to ensure that the panel is kept at an optimum voltage to produce the maximum amount of electricity.


For more information contact us via phone 0151 3245588.