The difference is that an inverter is just one component of a solar generator and of almost any solar power system that transforms the electricity into a usable energy source. Most solar panel arrays and generators will convert the sun’s rays into DC power. Homes and appliances utilize AC power to operate.
An inverter is often considered the “brain” of a generator that changes the DC to AC, which is then made available to power devices and appliances via a battery-powered outlet. In a way, an inverter acts as the bridge between the solar panel system and the appliance. An inverter is an integrated component within the larger solar generator system. Please see “How Does A Solar Generator Work?” for an overview of these systems.
Aside from converting DC power to AC power, an inverter has several other practical functions within the generator. Some other critical duties of an inverter include the following:
- Manage Power Output – The inverter will keep track of the overall voltage pulled from the solar panels and identify the maximum level the power modules can operate.
- Grid Integration – Newer solar inverters can communicate with the larger power grid to perform particular functions related to frequency and voltage controls.
- Offset Disturbances – So-called “smart inverters” can manage minor disturbances in power supply, like voltage changes. An inverter can switch into standby mode to minimize large voltage fluctuations when significant disturbances occur.
Can You Use a Solar Generator Without an Inverter?
An inverter is a critical component of a solar generator, and a typical home cannot use the generator with only DC power available. The energy coming directly from the generator will be DC, which usually needs to be converted. However, if you have specific DC-powered devices instead of the standard AC devices, you may be able to use a generator without an inverter. See What Can You Run On a Solar Generator?
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