The Inverter for the Experimental Solar House 1

The inverter, mounted on a powerboard

The inverter, mounted on a powerboard

An inverter changes the low voltage DC power  that is stored in the battery and produced by your solar or wind source into the standard AC alternating current that is used to power most Canadian homes.   This is an important component of a renewable energy system because it makes it possible to operate all your standard household appliances instead of having to use hard to find 12V or 24V appliances.

Modified Sine Wave

Modified Sine Wave

Simple inexpensive inverters produce a modified sine wave output which is a very simplified version of what the power utility supplies. This is adequate for most small cabin and RV systems, but are not suitable for larger applications like year-round residential systems.

Utility Grade Sine Wave

Utility Grade Sine Wave

For residential systems, a sinewave inverter more closely approximates utility power.  Motors and electronics generally function better with sine wave inverters, which also deliver power more efficiently.  Thus a lower power sine wave inverter will do the same job as a slightly higher power modified sine wave inverter.  Some inverters produce a “utility grade” sine wave that approximates what is produced by most electrical utilities.

Pure Sine Wave

Pure Sine Wave

The electric power produced by modern sine wave inverters is cleaner than the power delivered to wall sockets by an electric utility.  And inverter power is uninterruptible–there are never any blackouts or brownouts.

Modern sine wave inverters used for residential applications typically have efficiencies of 90 – 95 per cent. Some produce a very pure sine wave and have a high degree of programmability to allow the user to determine the optimum parameters and set points for the system.

For residential applications that include a variety of loads, a sine wave inverter is the best choice because it delivers power more efficiently and eliminates noise that may cause problems with some sensitive loads. The power rating of the inverter should be sufficient to operate any loads that would run simultaneously. A look at the load analysis indicates that a 4000 Watt inverter is adequate for this design.

The Xantrex SW4024 4000 watt sine wave inverter was selected for this design because it produces an acceptable quality sine wave and provides many features and programmable options at a very competitive price. Inverters with pure sine wave outputs are available, but at higher cost, and are not needed for most household loads.

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