In a grid-tied system, solar panels connect directly to an inverter which ties into your main household electrical panel. It sends power into the home to run appliances and turns back the meter with excess energy. Grid-Tie inverters come in several options: string inverters, microinverters, and optimisers. Each varies with features and costs.
Off-grid inverters connect to a battery bank and change DC battery power into household AC power. Off-grid inverters work with 12v, 24v or 48v battery banks.
Without an inverter, the power collected by solar panels has nowhere to go. More than that, though, the inverter is also the brains of a solar energy system; it provides ground fault protection and stats about overall performance. If there’s a problem with your system or even one specific panel, chances are, your inverter will detect it.
Inverters also play a huge role in the efficiency of a solar system. When energy moves from solar cells to your home or business, some energy is inevitably lost. An efficient inverter minimizes these losses; the more efficient your inverter, the fewer cells are required to generate the power you need, reducing the overall cost of the entire system.
Wifi monitoring comes standard with most inverters. They enable monitoring of energy generation and consumption and can be used as a complete home energy monitoring system.
Free smartphone apps are also available for android of iOS. There is also the option of allowing the system to automatically use excess solar energy to heat water.