3 Main Types of Inverters: Function and Ideal Solar Application

Inverters & Monitoring
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Three solar inverter waveforms

When looking for a solar inverter, there are three inverter waveform options. These include sine wave, otherwise known as a pure or true wave, modified sine wave and square wave.

Most experts recommend using a pure sine wave for solar applications. Discover why in this blog post.

This post goes over each waveform so you can make the best choice for your family. It also covers which solar inverter brand Go Solar Group prefers and why.

Sine Wave Inverter

Inverters transform direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC). A pure sine wave inverter produces AC that most closely resembles the AC in wall outlets.

Its smooth oscillation waveform makes it the best wave type for most applications. Pure sine wave changes polarity instantly when the voltage crosses the zero volt line. The smooth transition between polarities prevents heat build-up and stress.

The one downside of using a pure sine wave inverter, however, is the cost. Because pure sine wave costs more than a modified sine wave inverter, most opt for modified sine wave technology, unless the technology they want to power won’t work without a pure sine wave inverter.

The Benefit of a Pure Sine Wave Inverter

The pure sine wave is compatible with all equipment because it doesn’t generate electrical noise caused by the extra harmonics in square and modified sine waves. The compatibility of this waveform makes inverters that produce it the best option.

Modified Sine Wave Inverter

Modified sine inverters generate a wave similar to a square wave with a few extra steps to help it function more closely to a pure sine wave. This inverter technology is accomplished by rapidly switching back and forth between positive and negative charges. While easier to create, it’s not the most compatible.

A modified sine wave has abrupt voltage rises and falls with long rests at zero volts. The abrupt change in voltage can cause sensitive equipment to overheat. Unless the device you’re powering has a transformer, it probably won’t react well to a modified sine wave inverter.

What You Can’t Run on a Modified Sine Wave Inverter

Modified sine inverters generate a wave similar to a square wave. It won’t work with a motor, anything with a digital clock, objects with electronic temperature controls or variable speeds, and fluorescent lighting.

Square Wave Inverter

The square wave inverter produces the simplest waveform. However, because of its choppy transition, it isn’t recommended for most power applications.

Square Wave Applications

Because square wave technology alternates at a steady frequency with the same duration at both minimum and maximum values, it often is used in digital equipment that needs a timing reference. However, even this application is rare because of the interference it can cause in sensitive equipment.

Why You Should Look for A Pure Sine Solar Inverter

Although pure sine inverters are more expensive, there is a good reason. Because they have a smooth transition from maximum to minimum, they don’t create interference or generated extra heat, which can cause issues.

When looking at solar for your home, don’t overlook the inverter that the installer uses. They should not only use a pure sine inverter, but it should have excellent power ratings and as close to a 1-to-1 ratio as possible between the power generated from the solar panels and the power the inverter can convert.

Go Solar Group’s Inverter of Choice

Each Go Solar Group installation uses state-of-the-art pure sine inverters manufactured by SolarEdge. These inverters have array design flexibility, decreased shade impact, module-level monitoring, and increased power conversion efficiency.

HD Wave Technology

What sets the SolarEdge inverter above the rest, however, is its HD Wave technology. Other sine wave inverters are bulky because they need magnetics and cooling elements to function.

HD Wave synthesizes a clean sine wave that focuses solely on DC to AC inversion because power optimizers placed on the back of each solar panel handles power point tracking and module voltage. Because the inverter only focuses on current inversion, it doesn’t need heavy magnetics and cooling elements, which comprise most of the bulk in other inverter options.

Additionally, this technology doesn’t take away from the efficiency of the equipment. SolarEdge HD Wave inverters have record-breaking 99 percent efficiency.

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