Solar inverters are connected to the solar panels on one side and your home’s electrical system and the utility grid on the other side. Solar inverters perform many essential functions. Their primary function is to convert the DC electricity generated by the solar panels to AC electricity which is usable in your home. Over time, solar inverters have continued to add features and functionality that are critical to ensuring that your home solar system operates safely and performs optimally.
Through a process called maximum power point tracking, solar inverters are constantly adjusting their electrical parameters to changing environmental conditions like different amounts of sunlight when clouds pass over. These adjustments allow the inverters to extract as much solar energy as possible from the solar panels.
Solar inverters also monitor the solar panels for electrical issues. They can identify and respond to safety issues like ground or arc faults and ensure that your solar panels are operating safely or shut the system down when an unsafe condition develops.
At the same time that solar inverters are managing the solar panels, they are also monitoring the incoming electricity from the utility grid. They do this for several reasons. The primary reason is to ensure that if the grid goes down, they are not exporting solar power into the grid where it could harm utility personnel who are working to restore grid power (unless you have a generator or home battery with a transfer switch which can disconnect your home from the grid). They also synchronize the power produced by the solar panels so that it is identical to power from the grid, ensuring that appliances in your home don’t know the difference between the two.
On the grid side, solar inverters continue to evolve to add functionality that can prevent variable solar power from destabilizing the grid and even perform functions that can perform services to stabilize the grid.