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If you have a solar panel system to help save money on energy costs, you are moving in the right direction. The sun is always there and it’s ready for us to harvest its energy. It helps save the environment from pollution, and it helps save money in the long run. However, something you might need is a solar inverter. In case you don’t know what a solar inverter is, it’s something that converts DC, or direct current energy into AC, or alternating current energy.
So, how can you choose the best off-grid solar inverter for you solar system? Most solar panels store the energy as DC or direct current energy, but most home appliances run on AC or alternating current, which means that you need something to convert that stored DC energy into AC. An off grid solar inverter is a little different than when you have a solar panel system tied to the energy grid around you.
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Top 7 Off-Grid Power Inverters Comparison
[Product info last updated on 2020-04-09 at 17:45 | Affiliate Link | Data obtained from Amazon Product Advertising API]
[Product info last updated on 2020-04-09 at 17:34 | Affiliate Link | Data obtained from Amazon Product Advertising API]
When you are off grid, you need an off grid solar inverter. Here, the power is stored in a battery bank as DC energy, then when you go to draw power from it, the DC energy flows through the inverter, so it gets converted to AC, and can be used for appliances. If you’re living off the grid and are not connected to a local power system, such as from a nearby coal, nuclear, or solar power plant, and you are using solar energy, you need an off grid solar converter.
Solar Inverter Buyer’s Guide
When it comes to purchasing solar inverters, whether you live on or off the grid, there are some pretty big challenges that you might face. If you already know what’s what, it will be a breeze, but for most people, knowledge of solar power systems are fairly limited, which is what can create some problems.
Generally speaking, there are three main challenges any homeowner and beginning solar energy user will face when choosing the right solar inverter. These three challenges include:
Common Types of Solar Inverters
When it comes down to it, there are five main types of solar inverters out there, and each of them functions a little differently and have varying characteristics, so let’s take a look at each of them right now.
Grid Tie Inverter
One of the most common types of solar inverter is the grid tie inverter. These are used when you are still living in a fairly populated area and are connected to a local power grid.
The grid tie inverter functions by taking the DC power from the solar panels and converting it into AC energy. This is then used for powering lights, appliances, and whatever else, with the excess energy then being fed into the local power grid.
Some states such as California offers a program named Net Energy Metering (NEM), which allows home owners who generate their own energy to serve their energy needs directly onsite and to receive a financial credit on their electric bills for any surplus energy fed back to their utility. It’s kind of like a savings account, with any excess energy provided to the power grid acting as a credit towards your account and vice versa.
Off Grid Power Inverter
An off grid inverter is a little different from a grid tie inverter. As you might guess by the name, these are used when you have a solar power system in place, but you are not connected to a local power grid.
The big difference is that a grid tie inverter does not require an energy bank to function, whereas an off grid inverter does. Here, the solar panels generate DC energy, which is then stored as such in an energy bank.
Then, when you go to use your lights or appliances, that DC energy goes through the off grid converter to be converted to appliance- ready AC energy.
Hybrid solar inverters are another good, and they can be used whether you are living on or off the power grid. These are generally used for when you live on the grid, as you can sell your energy to the power companies. However, at the same time, hybrid solar inverters also come with a backup energy bank which stores energy for emergency situations, and then converts that DC energy into AC energy whenever you need it. It’s a dual-purpose option that does come with some benefits.
Modified Sine Wave
Modified sine wave inverters are another good choice, and they are usually quite inexpensive. These are generally used kind of like you would use a backup generator of sorts. They can store energy for when you need it the most. These are great for something like an old cabin where you need to power basic lights, brush motors, old televisions and other such basic things. However, they do have a fairly low power output and don’t work great for modern appliances.
Pure Sine Wave
The great part about the pure sine wave converter is that these work fairly well with mostly any kind of off grid solar system. They work great for large power needs, but also do fine for the smaller stuff. Pure sine wave inverters come in many different power and size options, so you can choose one that works best for you; they generally have a fairly high power output which works great for appliances that need lots of power.
Pure Sine Wave vs Modified Sine Wave
So, what is the difference between Modified and Pure Sine Wave? This is one the most frequently asked questions when choosing solar inverter. When it comes down to it, the No. 1 choice for most people is the pure sine wave inverter, and there are a few reasons for this.
First off, for all grid-tied solar systems, it is usually mandatory to have a sine wave inverter. Although not a benefit per se, it is worth noting.
Pure sine wave inverters, although being more expensive than the modified options, also have much higher power outputs, and therefore are required for many modern appliances.
Furthermore, it operates much cleaner and more efficiently than virtually any other option out there, providing more high-quality power and less power loss.
Things To Consider When Choosing a Solar Inverter
You don’t want to just run out and buy any power inverter. There are some considerations you should keep in mind before making a purchase, so let’s talk about these right now.
Before you go out any buy any kind of off grid power inverter, there are some important things to take into consideration.
The first thing you should consider before making a purchase is how much power the inverter itself consumes. Inverters themselves require energy or power in order to function. When the inverter in question is sitting there, how much power does it draw? Of course, you want the inverter to draw as little power as possible, so power does not get wasted.
Modified or Pure Sine Wave
As we discussed above in some detail, you need to make the choice between a modified sine inverter and a pure sine inverter. The difference is of course that modified sine inverters work fine for small applications, such as a small cabin with limited power requirements, especially for older appliances. However, the pure sine wave inverters deliver much more high-quality energy that can be used for larger off grid systems and for much more modern appliances.
You will also want to look at efficiency. If you did not know, solar inverters are not 100% efficient. Not all of the DC energy they take in is converted to AC energy for your system. Some power does get lost in this conversion process, and if too much gets lost, you’ve got a problem. Peak conversion efficiency should be at least 94%, which means that only 6% of energy is being wasted by the inverter.
In case you are off grid, being able to charge a battery or solar bank is important. This means that when the sun is not out, you still have some emergency energy stores to fall back on. You want the battery in question to charge fast and to hold its charge for as long as possible. If there are many days without good sun, it’s pretty vital.
What you need to know is that these inverters are pretty susceptible when it comes to extreme heat and cold. Before you make a purchase, be sure to look at the temperature range to see what the range is which the inverter can handle, and consider where you will be placing it.
How good is the technical support for the inverter in question? Is the manual precise and clear? Is there a phone number you can call for help? Are there technicians that will come to your area to fix it if something goes wrong?
The other really important thing you want to look for is how good the manufacturer’s warranty for the battery is. Of course, you don’t want to spend thousands on one of these batteries, only to have it break in a few years, just to learn that it is not covered under warranty anymore.
Of course, the more you spend on your battery, and the more reputable the brand name is, the better this warranty will be. When it comes down to it, a 20- or 30-year warranty is great, a 10-year warranty not so much, and of course, the lifetime warranty is always best. Keep in mind that the longer the warranty is, the better off you are in the event that something goes wrong down the line.
How Can You Size Your Off-Grid Power Inverter
Best Off-Grid Solar Power Inverter Reviews
Let’s take a quick look at what we think are some of the best power inverters for your solar system on the market right now.
1. KRIËGER 1100 Watt 12V (Modified Sine Wave)
This is the only over 1000W modified sine wave power inverter we recommend in this round-up review. We like it so much because it carries all the features that other high end pure sine wave inverters have. As long as your appliances can handle modified pure wave, this is the best bang for your buck solar power inverter. It is at least $50 lower than other 1000W pure sine wave inverters on the market.
It comes with 2 standard North American AC outlets, 2 USB charging ports that can run up to 2.1 A. In additional to that, it features a LCD display for input voltage, output wattage, and battery level monitoring to eliminate any guessing games.
This durable KRIËGER inverter comes in a heavy duty aluminum case making it ready for any rough outdoor condition. If that doesn't sound good enough, how about wired remote control, UL & CSA certified and 3 year warranty. As the manufacturer claimed: "With this inverter, you will never be left without power when you need it!"
KRIËGER 1100 Watt 12V Spec. (Click to see)
2. Samlex Solar PST-300-12 PST (Pure Sine Wave)
Here we have a fairly high quality and affordable pure sine wave inverter for both on- and off-grid solar systems. What’s nice here is that the Samlex Solar PST-300-12 PST Series Pure Sine Wave Inverter comes in various size options including 300, 600, 1500, and 2000 watts, so you can match it to your energy requirements. This option does come with a cooling fan to stop it from getting too hot, plus it is also a very efficient option that wastes minimal energy, and the power consumption rate of the inverter itself is fairly minimal too.
This item comes complete with low voltage, over voltage, over temperature, over load, and short circuit protections, all to keep it in one piece. It’s got a DC input range of 10.5 – 16.5 VDC.
Samlex Solar PST-300-12 PST Spec. (Click to see)
3. AIMS Power PWRI60012S Pure Sine Wave
This is another decently affordable pure sine wave inverter that also comes in a range of power options. Here you can choose from size options starting at 200 watts, going all the way up to 3000 watts, making this item ideal for systems that need a lot of clean and high-quality energy, such as for a larger house with lots of high-tech appliances.
It works just fine with smaller electronics, but technically speaking, it is intended more for larger purposes. This item is isolated ground neutral, plus it comes with a high-quality cooling fan to stop it from overheating. The AIMS Power PWRI60012S Pure Sine Power Inverter also comes with overload, over temperature, high voltage, low voltage, short circuit, and low and high voltage alarms and protection systems.
AIMS Power PWRI60012S Spec. (Click to see)
4. Giandel 600W Power Inverter (Pure Sine Wave)
This is another 600W inverter aims at medium appliances including CPAP, laptop, small fridge and air compressor. Its cooling fan is pretty quiet and the AC output is very stable. One of the best features it has is the wired remote control switch allowing you to turn on/off your inverter mounted up to 15ft away.
Moreover, this inverter is fairly energy efficient and does not consume a lot of energy either. It comes with all full-safety protections such as over voltage and under voltage auto shutdown, great technical support, and a 18-Months warranty. It’s one of the better options out there right now; it is suitable for a wide range of applications and can be connected to cars and solar systems alike.
Giandel 600W Power Inverter Spec. (Click to see)
5. GoWISE Power PS1002 (Pure SINE Wave)
If you are looking for a compact, affordable, yet also very efficient 1000W pure sine wave inverter, the GoWISE Power PS1002 Pure SINE Wave Inverter might just be one of the best options out there right now. The look and feel are very similar to their direct competitor – Giandel.
One thing to note is that this model comes in only 1 size option, which features 1000 watts of continuous energy or 2000 watts of peak energy. This means that it is fine for small- to medium-size applications. Similar to Giandel, it comes with 5 high-quality protection systems including thermal, over load, over voltage, under voltage, and low voltage protection.
GoWISE Power PS1002 Spec. (Click to to See)
6. Giandel 2200W Inverter (w/ Solar Charge Controller)
This is a 2200W powerful inverter aims at heavy duty appliances. The Giandel Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter comes in 3 size options including 2000, 2200, and 4000 watts, making this option ideal for medium to large applications. One of the best features it has is the built-in 20A PWM solar charge controller allowing you to charge battery directly from attached solar panels.
Moreover, this inverter is fairly energy efficient and does not consume a lot of energy either. It comes with all full-safety protections, great technical support, and a fairly long-term warranty. It’s one of the better options out there right now; it is suitable for a wide range of applications and can be connected to cars and solar systems alike.
Giandel 2200W Inverter Spec. (Click to to See)
7. VertaMax 3000Watt (Pure Sine Wave)
This may be the final option here on our list today, but it is still quite a versatile and high-quality option. The VertaMax Pure Sine Wave Inverter comes in various power and size options including 500, 1000, 1500, and 3000 watts, making it ideal for both smaller and larger applications.
One thing that can be said is that in terms of the overall lifespan, this might just be the most durable option out there. It is a bit pricey, but it gets the job done without question. It has excellent peak power conversion rates combined with minimal power consumption, plus it has all necessary protection systems in place as well. It even features a hardwired terminal block for direct AC connections. The LED display is an excellent addition so you can monitor power consumption and other such factors.
Conclusion – Which Solar Power Inverter Is Right For You
Similar to choosing solar charge controller, finding the best off-grid solar inverter can make your head spinning, especially they come in different sizes and features.
The most important thing to keep in mind here is that you should always ask for expert help if you think you need it. Remember, these are electrical systems and they can be dangerous, so if you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s wise to get help from a trained professional. That being said, solar inverters are not too difficult to work with, but you do need to know the technical terms and specifications.
Keep in mind things like power consumption, energy efficiency, voltage and wattage requirements, durability, the scope of application, and yes, the price too. The bottom line is that if you are not sure which one is right for you, it’s probably best to go with a Pure Sine Wave inverter, especially if you worry your thousand dollar laptop will be damaged by a Modified Sine Wave inveter. See our recommendation here.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Newman is regular camper from Phoenix, Arizona. He loves outdoors and he likes to show people the endless possibilities of this world. He enjoys sharing practical tips about hiking, camping, and survival skills with others. In his spare time, he likes to explore cool gadgets that make his camping more enjoyable, safe, and fun.