Types of Inverters

Learn about the different
solar power inverter types available.

If you are going to be using solar energy to power the appliances in your home, you're going to need a solar power inverter to convert the DC electricity coming from your solar panels to AC electricity used by your household loads.

Types of inverters.

You'll also need to use a solar power inverter if you plan to connect to your breaker panel like with any grid-tied solar energy system that feeds surplus energy back into the grid for an energy credit.

But before you go out and buy just any inverter, let's get a little more acquainted with the different inverter types available to you so you can make a better, more informed buying decision.


Solar Inverter Types

The three most common types of inverters for solar power are the Square Wave inverters, Modified Sine Wave inverters and True Sine Wave inverters.

Square Wave power inverters

Square wave power inverter types are cheapest.These inverter types are not for use with home solar energy systems because they produce a square wave that is inefficient and rough on many types of equipment including solar photovoltaic components.

Although they are typically low priced, this is of little use to us, since we need an inverter we can use with our solar project. Yes, some people do use these inverters with solar systems, ...the same people who say solar energy is inefficient and doesn't work.

Modified Sine Wave inverters

Modified sine wave solar inverter are mid range quality.Modified Sine Wave inverters, sometimes called Quasi-Sine Wave inverters provide the best balance of quality and cost which makes them the most popular choice of solar power inverter types. Modified sine wave inverters produce an AC waveform that is not as rough as a square wave, but not as pure as a sine wave

Modified sine wave inverters are reasonably affordable and can work well in all but the most demanding applications. They can even power computers well most of the time.

However, where these inverters do sometime have a problem is with appliances that use motor speed controls and timers. Since more and more appliances are using these now days, we would recommend these inverter types only for smaller applications, houses with basic appliances that are not too techy.

True Sine Wave inverters

True Sine Wave Inverter Types are the best quality.True Sine Wave inverters are the most expensive types of inverters because they produce the purest sine wave of all the solar power inverters and thus provide the best, most consistent, performance and efficiency. True sine wave inverters are also the inverter types that can run practically any type of AC appliances including higher tech ones with motor speed controls and timers on them.

Also since these inverter types are computer controlled, they can be set to automatically turn on and off as power is required by your household loads saving you battery power on auto-pilot. You can learn more about saving money on your home energy bills by making little adjustments to your home by going to the Make Your Home Energy Efficient section of our website.

If you are debating whether you should spend the extra money to get a True Sine Wave power inverter instead of a Modified Sine Wave power inverter, I say it's well worth it, because with all the automation, it starts to feel like you're getting your power from the utility company again, only your not. Also, with the True sine wave inverter your appliances use less energy, thus preserving your power reserve and adding less cycle use to your batteries per amount of energy used.

Other Types Of Inverters

Grid Tie Power Inverters (Plug N Play)

Grid tied types of inverters plug in your wall.Grid Tie power inverters also known as Plug N Play power inverters are designed to be able to be plugged right into an AC outlet, thus feeding the power back into the household loads through the wires in your wall.

These solar inverter types are supposed to provide you with all the benefits of utility interconnection without the difficult installation process, just plug it into an AC Outlet, just like any regular appliance.

We have had many mixed reviews on these types of inverters, some people say they don't provide enough power for the cost, but then again some people love the larger sized ones. Other people say they are completely illegal because they are not UL listed and technically CANNOT be plugged into the grid LEGALLY. And there's others who claim that there are potential insurance issues if you use them.

Unfortunately, Plug N Play grid tied inverters are still in a very early stage of development, but watch for more of these coming out in the future hopefully even bigger ones - minus the controversy.

If you do have a smaller scale PV system and you do try using one of these types of inverters, odds are they will provide some sort of value, however because it is not 100% clear what physical and legal risks are involved at the current time, we don't recommend Grid Tie (Plug N Play) solar power inverter types.

If you want to see one of these Plug N Play grid tied inverters in action and form your own opinion, you can click here to see an actual demonstration of one of these things being used successfully.

Solar Power Inverter Types - Conclusion

Although Modified Sine Wave inverters are a lot less expensive (like half as much as True Sine Wave inverters), it is our opinion that the True Sine Wave solar inverter is still the better choice if you want to be sure your system performs optimally, automatically, with minimal performance & efficiency loss, and can run the widest variety of electrical appliances and devices.

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