There are two kinds of electricity, DC and AC. Homes that are connected to utility power use AC electricity. Flashlights, small radios and automobiles use DC electricity. In order for you to be able to use solar to operate the appliances in your home, an inverter will convert PV power from DC to AC. Inverters can be further classified as units that use batteries (UPS) and those that use the utility grid as power storage (Grid-tied). Inverters are now required to possess meters that will indicate their performance and some manufacturer’s supply remote display units that can be mounted inside the home. It is important to check on your inverter regularly to become acquainted with its operation and performance.
When an inverter is operating it takes the electricity from the solar array and causes it to oscillate until it matches the frequency of the grid (60cps or Hz). An inverter with ground fault protection will also be constantly checking the DC wiring for shorts or bad connections. If one of the wires is cut or frayed or if a live wire touches a grounded path, the inverter will shut down. In some instances a GFCI fuse will blow. This is one of the many safety features that will help protect the home if something is wrong with the wiring. Any inverter that is attached to the grid must also possess an “anti-islanding” feature. This means that the inverter will NOT continue to operate if there is a power outage. If there is no electricity supplied to the inverter from the grid, the solar system will shut down to prevent electricity from backfeeding the wires in your neighborhood. When the utility company arrives to make repairs in your local area they should not have to worry about whether or not there is electricity in the wiring coming from your house. The inverter is enclosed in an attractive cabinet that can be mounted inside the home, garage, or on an outside wall.