Solar Inverter Vs Normal Inverter- What are the Differences?

Despite serving the same task, solar and normal inverters are a bit different from each other. And no, I am not just referring to their price.

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JAN 23 Solar Inverter Vs Normal Inverter- What are the Differences?

Converting DC to AC is usually the basic function of an inverter. But is the operation of solar inverter Vs normal inverter same? Other than operations, what else differentiates them from one another? Do not stress your brain with such questions because this article covers it all including their pros, cons, efficiency, price, and lifespan. I know out of curiosity we all have that one question left at the end. Can I use solar inverter as normal inverter, or can I use normal inverter with solar panel? Come find out!

Solar Inverter Vs Normal Inverter- What are the Differences?

JAN 23 Solar Inverter Vs Normal Inverter- What are the Differences?

Everyone gets confused between solar inverters and normal inverters while purchasing a solar panel system. This is why it’s very important to learn about solar inverter vs normal inverter.

Solar Inverter

1) Definition

It is synched with solar panels, switching circuits, batteries, blocking diodes, and a charge controller. Solar inverters have a terminal to connect batteries and solar panels after which these batteries are charged by the power generated by solar panels. Solar inverters can be tied to the grid, backup battery storage, or both.

2) Operation

Inverters serve the function of converting direct current (DC) generated by solar panels to alternating current (AC) that can be used by appliances. This way, it also maintains the amount of voltage transferred to the appliances. Its functioning depends on the presence of sunlight and the functioning of solar panel systems. Blocking diodes allow current flow from panels to inverters and prevent backflow of current. Thus, it ensures the battery is not discharged and there is no potential damage to the system. Similarly, current and voltage from solar panels to batteries are regulated by charge controllers. It also ensures that the battery is not overcharged.

Normal Inverter

1) Definition

Also called power inverters, they use control circuits, switching, and transformers to convert the direct current (DC) into alternating current (AC).

2) Operations

In normal inverters direct current (DC) is derived from batteries and then converted to alternating current (AC) for appliances to use. Both battery and inverter are connected to the main power connection of the house. Batteries are charged when the main grid supplies power and when there is no power supply from the main grid (power outage) the inverter automatically switches to battery mode. Now the stored power in batteries is used to power the appliances, for a certain period of time. After this, let’s learn about solar inverter vs normal inverter pros.

Also See: 8 Best 3000 Watt Inverter

What is Solar Inverter Vs Normal Inverter Pros?

JAN 23 Solar Inverter Vs Normal Inverter- What are the Differences?

Both inverters serve the same purpose with the only difference being the source of DC power. But other than that, here is a list of solar inverter Vs normal inverter pros.

Solar Inverter

1) Reduce carbon footprint: Solar inverters derive power from PV panels that produce direct current from the photons absorbed by sunlight. With less dependency on fossil fuels generated electricity, you are reducing your input in global warming and burning fossil fuels.

2) Reduces electricity bill: The electricity bill reduces drastically as now more power usage is from solar panel systems instead of the utility grid. Also, solar inverters connected to the utility grid feed the grid with surplus power from solar panel systems. Owners get paid for the energy supplied to the utility grid.

3) Easy to sync and use: Solar inverters easily sync with other electrical power supplies and can be sourced in a wide range of power capacities or used alone. Also, the output from a solar inverter is pure sine wave which is similar to the traditional power supply. This is why it can easily be used for residential, commercial, or industrial-level loads and appliances.

4) Cost-effective: Solar inverters are cost-effective in comparison to diesel inverters because they need less maintenance. Also, there is no additional expense to feed the inverter with fuel as solar inverters do not require them.

5) Useful for remote and rural areas: Solar inverters are useful for places with a shortage of electricity. In remote or rural areas, power supply from the grid is often disrupted or connection is often not possible due to a lack of proper facilities. In such places, solar inverters paired with solar panel systems are useful to people.

Also See: 5 Major Advantages of Solar Street Light

Normal Inverter

1) Suitable for high power requirements: Power inverters are designed to provide power to several devices. An inverter with a high Ah rating and power generation capacity can supply power to many devices for long periods. Also, a full range of dynamic protection functions like overvoltage, phase loss/phase reversal, over current, and others allow better performance of inverters.

2) Smart features: Advanced technologies and central control systems made it possible for inverters to have features like Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity. Thus, allowing you to connect it with the mobile application to monitor its functioning.

3) UPS mode: A power or normal inverter has UPS mode that swiftly converts the power supply from the main power grid to a backup source (inverter). This is done without a glitch as soon as the power supply from the main line is obstructed or stopped.

4) Noiseless operations: Power inverters do not emit unpleasing sounds while they function. Some of them are completely silent whereas others make only a little sound that is more or less similar to the sound of the exhaust.

5) Efficiency and durability: Power inverters have a long-life cycle with optimum performance. Inverters are known to last long if maintained properly with timely efficiency check-ups. There is no pressure drop or difficulty starting. Also, the direct motor running method energy saving is max. Normal inverters start steadily with low speeds and this prevents large motors from the sudden start, thus, avoiding any mechanical damage.

Also Read: What is Solar Gross Metering?

What is Solar Inverter Vs Normal Inverter Disadvantages?

Despite all the benefits and pros, both inverters have their drawbacks. Here is a list of solar inverter Vs normal inverter disadvantages.

Solar Inverter

1. High initial cost: Solar inverters are expensive equipment and account for about 30% of the total cost of a PV system. This percentage can increase with an increase in the efficiency rating of the solar inverter. Because the more efficient the more expensive.

2. Depending on solar power and panels: Solar inverters work efficiently with strong solar radiation hitting solar panels. But if the overall DC output voltage does not match the lower-level direct current voltage levels of the inverter, it will not work. Ultimately, solar inverters are dependent on solar panels to work.

Also See: 5 Major Disadvantages of Hybrid Inverter

Normal Inverter

1. High initial investment cost: Inverters can be costly as they are backed up with batteries and their prices vary. Depending on the efficiency, Ah rating, and other factors, you may have to pay for the inverter. The more efficient the inverter, the higher it would cost.

2. Requires maintenance: Normal inverters are susceptible to damage due to their complex mechanism like starting or stopping of the electric motor is not in sync or the rotational speed of the induction motor is not under the control. With this, you should have understood the solar inverter vs normal inverter disadvantages.

Also Read: Grid Tie Inverter Working Principle

What is Solar Inverter Vs Normal Inverter Efficiency?

JAN 23 effeciency

In terms of efficiency, solar inverters are highly efficient. Usually, inverters are 93%-96% efficient, depending on their model. But remember, no inverter has a 100% efficiency rating because their working depends on incoming direct current from the panels. If there is more power generation from solar panels, the same amount will be converted to AC also. Therefore, a solar inverter may have varying efficiency on alternate days.

In normal inverters, efficiency refers to the fact of how much DC is converted into AC under certain circumstances and output levels. Normal or power inverter efficiency depends on inverter load power capacity variation. Higher load power capacity increases inverter efficiency to its max whereas lower load power capacity will result in less efficiency.

The efficiency of solar inverters is divided into 3 basic categories:

1. California Energy Commission Efficiency: Inverter efficiency is received when different AC output levels are multiplied by different weighed numbers using distinct calculation formulas. This is known as CEC (California Energy Commission) efficiency.

2. Euro efficiency: It is the weighted number calculated after considering how often the inverter operates at different power outputs. Since it shows the performance of inverters at different output levels during a sunny day, this efficiency rating is considered more useful than peak efficiency.

3. Peak efficiency: It shows the maximum point of an inverter that indicates the performance of the inverter at an optimal power output.

Note: Some inverters may have a 99% peak efficiency rating. This may not be considered the accurate efficiency result as the inverter may operate at its peak efficiency range for a certain part of the day or does not work at all. Therefore, consider other efficiency categories too.

Also Read: What are Australian Standards?

What is Solar Inverter Vs Normal Inverter Price?

After learning about solar inverter Vs normal inverter efficiency, it is time to gather knowledge about their price differences.

The price of a solar inverter differs from system to system as the size and efficiency of the solar inverter depend on the PV system design along with other components. The cost of different solar inverters also varies because of their mechanism. Like the cost of a string inverter ranges between $1000 and $2000 and sometimes even more. Single Power optimizers may cost $50 to $200 or more and each microinverter being the most expensive can cost around $1000 or more. This means if you have 5 panels you will need 5 power optimizers that will cost up to $250 to $1000. Similarly, 5 microinverters will cost $5000 or more.

Depending on their efficiency and wattage, normal or power inverters’ price differs. You can get a less efficient power inverter at $20, and the price range rises up to $7000 or more. After this, let’s see solar inverter vs normal inverter life span.

Also See: How Does a Hybrid Inverter Work?

What is the Difference Between Solar Inverter Vs Normal Inverter Life Span?

JAN 23 sand clock

After learning about solar inverter vs normal inverter prices, it is time to know their lifespan. Inverters may differ, but it is affected at large due to overheating, input voltage current, and characteristics unmatched, by external factors (dust, fog, snow, and rain). Every inverter is susceptible to damage from these factors that can ultimately reduce its lifespan and efficiency.

Different types of solar inverters have distinct lifespans. String inverters have an expected lifespan of about 10 –15 years. With proper maintenance and mounting in a cold well-ventilated location, it can last up to 20 years. Micro inverters last up to 15 -25 years and power optimizers last around 20 -25 years.

The normal lifespan of a string power inverter is about 10 to 15 years. And the inverter batteries need replacement every 7- 8 years. However, a flat grid battery needs to be replaced every 3 – 4 years. If inverter batteries are in good condition, inverters tend to last longer.

Note: We do not claim the lifespan of any inverter (solar and normal). The time period for which the inverters last is mentioned in the warranty itself. Therefore, read every document carefully.

Also Read: Do I Need A Fuse Between Battery And Inverter

Can I Use Solar Inverter as Normal Inverter?

Well after the solar inverter Vs normal inverter life span is clear let us move ahead to answer this question. Using solar inverters without solar panels is more or less like using a normal inverter. Solar inverters need a power source to work, and it can be solar panels, solar generators, or an electricity line. Here, hybrid solar inverters are best because you can use them with solar panels and with the utility grid through net metering. Hybrid solar inverters are modified for both uses. This was the answer to your can I use solar inverter as normal inverter question.

Note: Connecting solar inverter only to the utility grid may not be possible in some locations. It is therefore recommended to consult with your solar panel installer for the same before pursuing the idea.

So, can I use a normal inverter with solar panel? Yes, it is possible to use a normal inverter with solar panels, but with certain additional components. Here is a step-by-step process of doing so.

Step 1

For this, you need to connect the inverter with other components to work effectively. But before this, you need to install solar batteries with a C rating. Solar batteries are rated at 5C, 10C, and 20C. Out of them, 20C is the best, but again this depends on your solar panel system.

Step 2

Select a charge controller as it is an essential component, and most inverters work best when paired with a PWM or MPPT charge controller. The voltage of the solar battery and charge controller must be the same as the amperes.

Step 3

Selecting solar panels is an essential task when you are connecting a normal inverter to solar panels. Make sure the voltage of solar panels is compatible with the inverter and PMW (Pulse Width Modulation) charge controller. Most panels are rated 12-24V and 10W-440W. If your solar batteries are 12V, your solar panel must have the same rating if you pair it with a PWM charge controller. However, there are no restrictions with an MPPT (maximum power point tracker) charge controller.

Step 4

Now is the last step where the inverter is connected to solar panels. Even though it is not that complicated, if done wrong, there can be compilations. It is recommended to get it done by a technician. It was interesting to learn about the conversion process while learning about different aspects of solar inverter vs normal inverter. After this, its time to also explore hybrid inverter vs normal inverter.

What is Hybrid Inverter Vs Normal Inverter?

Hybrid inverters work on the same principle as that string inverters with the only difference being the battery backup that stores power generated by the panels. These inverters convert DC power received from solar panels into AC power which is then supplied to connected appliances. On the other hand, normal inverters derive power from connected batteries, convert it from DC to AC, and then supply it to appliances.

So, today you discovered different points related to solar inverter Vs normal inverter. Even with the same purpose, solar and normal inverters have other power sources. Not only this, various factors like price, efficiency, lifespan, and conversion are also determinants of their distinction. And with this, you should have also got the answer to can I use normal inverter with solar panel.

Recommended: Top 10 Solar Inverters in the World

Olivia is committed to green energy and works to help ensure our planet's long-term habitability. She takes part in environmental conservation by recycling and avoiding single-use plastic.

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