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Five Duties for Solar Inverters

inverters are solely responsible for more operational functions than any other PV system component. These duties have continued to grow as systems get smarter and increase interaction with the utility grid.

So what exactly does an inverter do? There are five key job duties for solar inverters

1. Convert DC to AC power
The basic function of an inverter is to convert the direct current (DC) power that solar panels create to alternating current (AC) power that is usable in homes and businesses or fed directly into the grid in front-of-the-meter projects (utility-scale solar arrays). Most low-frequency inverter also can convert the AC power to the battery for the battery power storage, With 3* rated power, more powerful than high-frequency inverter. Appliances and loads, the low-frequency inverter can take more appliance and loads than high frequency inverter. Read more Cosuper Energy low frequency inverter here.

2. Maximize power output
Inverters are responsible for continuously tracking the solar array’s voltage to identify the maximum power at which the modules can operate. If shading occurs from environmental factors or if modules are degraded, the inverter can accidentally identify the wrong peak in the string, thus reducing the overall energy production of the system.

3. Interface with the grid
Smart inverters, the new frontier of solar inverters, have advanced from one-way communication to two-way communication with the grid, assisting with grid-support functions. Thanks to advanced software, smart inverters can perform specific grid-supportive functionalities related to voltage, frequency, communications, and controls.

One of the most important grid assistance capabilities of smart inverters is the ability to ride through small disturbances (for example, voltage changes). Smart inverters can switch into standby mode in the case of a voltage change and observe how long the disturbance takes place, then turn off only if the disturbance lasts too long. This ensures that there are minimal voltage fluctuations on the grid due to distributed resources turning all the way off and halting power production. 

4. Power production
Inverters make it possible for solar owners to keep track of the power output of their solar systems. Most inverters have communications capabilities via hardwired ethernet, Bluetooth or Wi-Fi, and other communications way. This communication connectivity can put inverters at risk for cyberattacks, but scientists are working on solutions to mitigate this possibility. 

Solar owners can view error codes, diagnostics and power production information from inverters on their computers or even on dedicated smartphone apps. Large-scale solar owners may want to additionally invest in advanced monitoring services to help diagnose and fix issues on multi-inverter arrays through a third-party vendor.

5. Ensure safe system operation
Inverters are required to shut down in the event of an electrical arc, which can be caused by system aging and material degradation. They’re programmed to identify these arcs, but not all inverters do so effectively. 

Because inverters are made up of so many electronic parts and perform numerous duties, they are more likely to fail than any other component of a PV system. 

Inverters are a crucial part of a solar system, and their duties are constantly evolving as both the grid and solar projects get smarter.

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