Why Do Solar Cells Need An Inverter?

By Kami Turky

Last Updated:

Solar cells convert the energy from the sun into electricity.

However, to use that electricity we need something that can change it back and forth between direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC).

This is why we have solar power inverters: they take in DC and create AC power.

This article will explore why do solar cells produce DC current, why do solar cells need an inverter, and why our appliances use AC current instead of DC.

What Is The Difference Between AC and DC?

DC stands for direct current, which means the electrons are flowing in one direction.

While AC stands for alternating current, which means the electrons are flowing in one direction for a bit and then reversing directions repeatedly.

So why do solar cells need an inverter?

Well, because some of your household appliances (like a fan or blender) require AC because they use the flow of electricity to create movement and energy, meaning that it rotates back and forth.

Related article: What Is Negative Grounding In Solar Inverter?

Why Do Solar Cells Produce DC Current?

A solar cell is a semiconductor, which means it has both positive and negative sides.

When the sun hits one side of this semiconductor, electrons are knocked loose from their atoms, leaving behind what we call an electron hole (a place where electrons used to be).

This flow of electrons from the positive side to the negative is what we call a current.

When the sun is shining on your solar system, electrons flow through the cell in one direction. Thus, create DC power (direct current).

Related article: How Do Solar Cells Work?

Why Do We Use AC In Our Homes?

Most of our appliances use AC current instead of DC.

This is because most of our electricity is generated far away from our homes and when it comes to transferring electricity from one place to another, AC is way more efficient than DC.

For this reason, power companies send AC current instead of DC through our homes via the utility grid.

How Does A Solar Inverter Convert DC To AC?

Inverters are used to convert DC current from solar panel into AC.

This is a process called “inverting” because it changes the direction of current flow, just as an inverter changes a car’s 12-volt battery into 110 volts for household use.

An inverter has two separate connection points: one positive and one negative.

The solar system’s DC current then goes through the positive connection of the inverter, causing electrons to flow from negative to positive.

The battery’s DC current flows through the negative side of the inverter and causes a similar movement in its electrons.

The result is AC power created by both solar energy and stored battery energy that can be used for anything you need – including powering appliances that work on DC current.

Related article: Can You Connect an Inverter Directly to a Solar Panel System?

What Are Different Types Of Solar Inverters

Normally, there are three types of inverters: string, micro and central.

String inverters are a single unit that’s used to power multiple solar cells at the same time.

Finally, a central inverter also known as grid tie inverter is used to power groups of solar cells at the same time.

The main difference between central and string inverters is that, while each individual unit works with one group at a time, you need several units for your home if you’re using central inverters.

Microinverters on the other hand decentralize this process as they convert Direct Current from each individual panel separately before sending it to your service panel.

Pro Tip: If your inverter is acting weird, try to reset it. For more information, check this guide on how to reset solar inverter

Related article: How to Read Solar Inverter Specifications?

Can Solar Panels Work Without an Inverter?

Yes and no.

Some appliances use DC current such as LED lights, so for this application, you don’t need an inverter and you can directly connect the solar pv system to the LED light.

However, if you need to power an AC appliance such as a pool pump or a refrigerator for example, then you need to use an inverter, as those appliances only work on AC current and solar panels only produce DC.

Related article: Can Solar Panels Work Without Inverter?

Last Words

As promised, in this article, we showed you exactly why solar cells need an inverter.

In the end, we really hope you enjoyed reading this article as much as we enjoyed making it.

Do you have any questions about photovoltaic cells or solar inverters?

If so, please share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

Kami Turky

Kami is a solar engineer with nearly a decade of experience in researching, testing, and reviewing various solar products.He has also provided technical consultation to several organizations on the best ways to incorporate solar energy into their operations.When he’s not busy helping others find the best solar solutions, Kami enjoys spending time outdoors, hiking, camping, and exploring the natural wonders of his home state.

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