Written by: Randy Anderson, Technical Sales & Training Manager
What are the things that we need to consider when choosing an off-grid inverter? First of all, we need to consider who's the manufacturer. Have they been around a long time? Are they a reputable company? And will they be around if we have issues down the road in a couple years with the inverter, to take care of it in case the of warranty?
Is it a modified or true sine wave? What does that mean? True sine wave is essentially the same type of power that comes out of your wall outlet today. Modified is a rougher power, it isn’t as clean. So you want a true sine inverter to run any sensitive electronics. Most larger, battery-based inverters today are true sine. Modified is less expensive, however, so that’s something to take into consideration and watch out for.
Input voltage is another consideration. Generally inverters are 12, 24, or 48 volts. Usually the larger inverters, the higher output inverters, are 24 or 48 volt. Typically the higher the voltage the less amperage required to run the unit, which can mean smaller cable size, maybe slightly different battery size.
And probably the most important consideration is the output ratings or how many watts or kilowatts the inverter puts out. So how many watts you need is going to depend on what you're running, what's the size of your system? If you use that information to make your selection it should be sized accordingly. Typically, outputs range from 2000, 4000, and 6000 watts. How much does your system require? How much load do you have on the system? That's going to determine the output rating. Always better to have a little more output than required so you're not running your inverter at 100% capacity all the time.
And I'd say the last consideration, and more for an off grid application, would be the charger output. And most inverters have a charger built into them for battery-based renewable systems. So the higher the charger output rating, that would mean less generator run time or the quicker they recharge batteries, something you’ll need to consider when living off-grid.
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