Solar, Battery, & Hybrid Inverters Explained

When it comes to installing solar panels on your home, you will need more than just your PV panels. Many homeowners and business owners who are interested in making the switch to a more renewable energy source find themselves overwhelmed by the system components that they need to make this type of power work. 


One of the most important pieces of your solar system is your inverter, but which type should you buy? Some people may even be wondering why an inverter is a necessary part of their solar system. If you are hesitant about what type of inverter you need, this guide will help you decide between a solar, battery, and hybrid inverter. 

What Is an Inverter? 


Before diving too deeply into the differences among the various types of inverters, it is important to first understand what an inverter actually does: Your solar panels produce DC (direct current) energy. Unfortunately, this is not the proper format for your home to make good use of that energy. It must instead be converted into AC energy. An inverter’s primary function is to help convert your produced energy from DC to AC power. However, there are several different ways that inverters can go about this. This is why there are three main types of inverters for homeowners or business owners to choose from. 


If you are on the fence about what type of inverter you want or need, this guide will explore the differences: 

Solar Inverters


Solar inverters are perhaps the most common type of inverters that homeowners select when it comes to converting energy from DC to AC power. The benefit of choosing a solar inverter is that you have many different models to choose from as a result of their popularity. Some may have other more advanced features that appeal to you. 


These solar inverters can also include battery storage, but you may be required to have a separate inverter for this process. 


A solar inverter can be quite flexible and is suitable for residential and commercial applications. Some are relatively small and are just single-phase inverters. Others can be quite large and are known as three-phase inverters. A reliable solar energy company can help you decide on the proper size. 

String Inverters


Solar inverters connect to the grid and can be found in two primary formats: String solar inverters or micro-inverters. In a string system, the inverter will be tied to several panels. A string solar inverter has one major downfall: All of the connected solar panels are only as powerful and high-performing as the worst performing panel. 


What does this mean for your home? Think about how your solar panels work throughout the day. If some of your panels are located in the shade, they will not produce as much energy as the panels that are located in direct sunlight. When you are implementing a string solar system, your system will only be as powerful as those least-performing panels that are found in the shade. 


Make sure to evaluate how much sun each of your panels receives before committing to a string solar inverter. If part of your roof is obscured in the shade during peak hours, then you may want to switch to micro-inverters instead. 



On the other hand, a micro-inverter will be a small device attached to each solar panel. When you invest in micro-inverters, you will spend more money to purchase all of the inverters you’ll need to pair with your solar panels; they are ideal for complex roof arrangements because they don’t take up much space. 


Micro-inverters are also great because they each operate completely independently, ensuring that you have energy even if some of your panels experience shade throughout the day. This is the total opposite of a string system where your panels default to the same productivity as the worst-performing panel. 


If you can afford the initial investment in this type of system, you will likely be much happier with it over the more standard string solar inverter. 

Battery Inverters


Battery inverters are a bit different than the more plentiful solar inverters. Their primary job is to charge your battery banks. While they do convert DC power to AC power, the thing that sets a battery inverter apart is its capability of doing the opposite as well. This makes them part of an essential system, whether you have solar power or not. 


Some people choose to use battery inverters even without a solar system because it enables them to use less expensive electricity instead of paying for peak hours. 


Many people are already familiar with the plug-in battery inverters that are often used in travel, such as on RVs, caravans, or even boats. In these cases, the battery inverter will typically be paired with one or more solar panels to store energy needed for the trip. 


The benefit of going with a battery inverter is that it has the potential to be as powerful as you want it to be. They will often range from 150W for suitable uses in vehicles all the way to battery inverters that exceed 10,000W. The latter can take you all the way off-grid if that is your end goal when converting to solar energy. 

Hybrid Inverters


Hybrid inverters (also known as battery-ready inverters or multi-mode inverters) are a great combination of both the more standard solar inverter and the battery inverter. They are rapidly growing in popularity and may even rival the prevalence of solar inverters in the years ahead. This is because they combine the power of a solar inverter along with a battery inverter, making this a comprehensive system that is also cost-effective for those who want to add batteries. 


These inverters are capable of converting your DC power to AC power from your solar panels. At the same time, they can also charge your battery backup system with excess electricity from the solar panels.  


The right hybrid inverter is designed for clean energy, managing inputs from generators, wind turbines, and more. They can also access the grid and use it to charge your battery backup system if this is something that catches your interest. A hybrid inverter can pull energy from the grid when it is less expensive and store it in your batteries for use during peak hours. This allows you to save on the monthly costs of your power bill. 


If you aren’t sure what type of battery backup system you want, you can still purchase a hybrid inverter with plans to expand your system in the future. 


Hybrid inverters have been used for quite some time, but they’re often less efficient than solar or battery inverters. Be sure to weigh the pros and cons of this type of inverter system before investing. 

What Type of Inverter Do You Need? 


All of this information can feel overwhelming at first. Homeowners and business owners who want to make the switch to solar energy may need some guidance. Powertec Solar is available to help you process some of these key decisions regarding your solar system. If you have a question about what is right for your property, give us a call today!