Can You Leave An Inverter On All The Time? (We Find Out)
Can you leave an inverter on all the time? It is a common question among people who have a solar power system installed in their households. While a solar power system is a complex technology, this question is quite simple to answer.
You can leave your solar inverter on all the time. It is advisable to have it switched on, so you will not have to turn it on during a sudden power outage manually. The only time you should turn your inverter off is when you will leave your house for more than a month.
Many homeowners are starting to rely on solar energy now. If you have a solar panel system installed at home, you know that an inverter is one of the system’s most vital parts.
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Solar panels generate direct current (DC) electricity. The job of an inverter is to convert the electricity produced by the solar panels into alternating current (AC) electricity, which homes appliances need to operate.
A Brief Run Down Of What An Inverter Is
As mentioned, an inverter is a device that converts direct current to alternating current electricity. This way, the solar panel system can supply your home appliances with the correct type of electricity.
Moreover, there are many types of inverters for solar panels:
- Battery Inverter
A battery inverter is an excellent choice if you want your solar power system to have a battery installed. You can also use this type of inverter if you separate your battery into your solar panel and connect it to a different inverter.
The benefit of a battery inverter is that it can continuously provide electricity for critical loads regardless of whether there is grid power. And since you can store energy in the battery connected to the inverter, you can use the energy from the battery without energy from the sun.
- Central Inverter
The central inverter is the most common type of solar inverter, which people call a string inverter. It is also the most inexpensive inverter option for people who power their houses using solar energy.
In a solar power system with a central inverter, the arrangement of your solar panels is in a sequence. This sequence allows the electricity produced by the solar panels goes into one central inverter. The inverter then changes the energy harvested by the panels into AC electricity.
The good thing about a central inverter is that it works excellently with most applications. However, solar panels that become shaded during the later hours of the day will have the lowest power output since the solar panels are in a string sequence. The entire solar panel system will also malfunction if one of the panels suddenly goes wrong.
Unlike the central inverter, the micro-inverter does not rely on strings to operate. Instead, it harvests energy output from a single solar panel. It then transforms it into AC electricity, the type of electricity your home appliances need to run. It means that the micro solar inverter converts solar energy into usable electricity as soon as the solar panel receives photons from the sun.
In addition, this type of inverter is smaller than the central inverter. Since micro-inverters do not work in a string sequence, a damaged solar panel will not stop the other panels in the system from providing power to your home conveniences.
- Hybrid Inverter
A hybrid inverter works both on-grid and off-grid, even with or without a battery. It features an internal power transfer switch that delivers electricity to your home conveniences during a power outage.
Moreover, the main benefit of a hybrid inverter is that it can be battery-ready and has a future-proof design. (source)
Should I Leave It On Even When I Don’t Need Electricity?
Besides converting DC to AC electricity, an inverter stores energy on your solar power system’s battery. The batteries installed on solar power systems self-discharge even when none of your appliances is running. For this reason, keeping your inverter on all the time is advisable.
The battery will lose the energy stored over time even when you are not yet using it to power any device. Turning the solar inverter off will prevent the battery from charging, so it is not ideal to turn the inverter off when it is not in use.
In addition, inverters switch on automatically in an instance when grid power suddenly cuts off. Imagine when there is a power outage during the night, and your inverter is off. In this case, your solar power system will not turn on automatically, leaving you fumbling for a torch so you can walk up to your solar inverter and turn it on.
But if you leave your inverter on at all times, your solar panel system will keep things running even when there is a power interruption, without you having to switch anything on. (source)
How Long Can You Run An Inverter?
Inverters come in different wattages, so the time they can run also differs. There is a simple way to calculate an inverter’s run time.
Suppose your inverter runs on a 12V deep-cycle battery. In this case, you need to multiply the battery’s amp-hours (Ah) by 12. The result will be your watt-hours. Next, divide the watt-hours by the load watts to get the battery’s run-time hours. For the final step, you need to multiply the run time hours by the percentage that accounts for the inverter losses.
With all that’s said, you can only calculate your solar inverter’s run time if you have the following figures:
- voltage capacity
- amp-hours (Ah)
- the percentage that accounts for the inverter losses (source)
However, it is also imperative to note that the number of appliances your inverter supplies power to will affect its total run time. If you are not sure how long your solar panel system’s inverter can run, below is the information about different solar inverter run times:
Solar Inverter Run Times
- 300 Watt Inverter
An inverter that handles 300 watts of electricity can supply power to low-voltage appliances like lights, laptops, and chargers. However, you cannot use this inverter to power appliances that require a higher voltage than what it can supply.
The amount of time this inverter can run on a 12V battery for approximately 10 hours. But if you use an 8V battery, a 300-watt inverter can only run for about 6 to 7 hours.
- 500 Watt Inverter
A 500-watt inverter can run smartphones, a small refrigerator, and other home conveniences that do not require more than 500 watts of electricity. This inverter can operate from a 12V battery for about 17 hours.
- 600 Watt Inverter
You can use a 600-watt inverter to supply electricity to a television, sound system, and major electrical appliances. But it is worth noting that you should never power a device that exceeds 600 watts of electricity requirement with a 600-watt inverter. It can result in damages and even accidents in worse cases.
Say you have a 600-watt power inverter running on a 100Ah. If the solar inverter powers appliances with a 600-watt electricity requirement, then the inverter will run for 1.6 hours.
- 750 Watt Inverter
An inverter with 750 watts of energy is powerful enough to run kitchen tools, living room appliances, and some cleaning tools. It can constantly deliver 750 watts of electricity and 1500 watts at its peak. So, a 750-watt solar inverter can last for 2 to 4 hours when it is on full load.
- 1000 Watt Inverter
This inverter can produce up to 1000 watts of electricity per hour. You can use it for high-voltage appliances, especially in homes with many machines. A 1000-watt inverter connected to a 12V battery can work for 27 hours straight on full load. (source)
Furthermore, there are 3000, 4000, and 5000-watt inverters, but households only usually use up to 1000 watts.
When Do You Need To Turn Off The Inverter?
While it is ideal to leave the solar inverter on all the time, there are certain instances when you need to turn it off. For example, if you leave your house for a month or more, it is advisable to turn off your inverter to save some electricity costs.
A lead-acid battery has a self-discharge rate of 4 to 6 percent each month when the inverter is off. On the other hand, leaving your inverter on for a month will cause the battery to self-discharge by 12 to 18 percent. For this reason, turning the solar inverter off is ideal if you leave your house for a long time to save more on the battery’s capacity.
However, there are some things that you need to remember when switching your inverter off. You need to charge your battery to its total capacity and bring its water level to be full. This way, you will not have to worry about your battery draining while you are away.
Moreover, only leave your inverter off for less than four months. Leaving your solar inverter off for too long will cause a high depth of damage, thus potentially causing permanent damage to your battery.
How To Switch An Inverter Off
There isn’t a standard procedure for switching an inverter off. For this reason, all you need to do is to use the bypass switch that you will find on the back of the inverter to switch the bypass option. Then, switch the solar inverter off by pressing and holding the on/off button until the inverter switches off.
However, some solar inverters do not have a bypass switch. In this case, there are three steps to switch the inverter off:
- Switch off the solar inverter by simply pressing and holding the on/off button
- Turn the power socket off and unplug the input power from the power socket.
- Unplug your home inverter’s output plug from the home power socket. (source)
Can Inverters Drain A Solar Panel System’s Battery?
Contrary to what many think, an inverter does not drain a solar panel system’s battery. Batteries lose energy when you disconnect them from the inverter, as they will not receive the power generated by the solar panels. To prevent the batteries from losing the energy they accumulated, you need to keep the inverter on all the time.
Moreover, an inverter uses low current electricity, known as trickle charging or float charging, to keep batteries fully charged even when you are not using them. How much low current electricity an inverter needs to prevent the batteries from draining will depend on the type of batteries connected. (source)
Do Solar Inverters Turn Off At Night?
Your solar power system works by generating electricity using sunlight. But since it does not have anything to generate during the night, your solar inverter will not have direct current electricity to convert to alternating current energy. For this reason, your inverter will automatically turn off at night time.
However, a solar inverter continuously consumes electricity at night, even when it is not working. The reason is that it needs to keep the LED display on for you to see your inverter’s status easily. But you do not have to worry about the inverter’s energy consumption as it only uses 1 watt for the LED display. (source)
How To Choose The Right Of Inverter For Your Home
Now that you know the answer to “can you leave an inverter on all the time,” you may consider installing a solar power system for your home. If you are, you will need to choose the most compatible solar inverter for your needs and requirements. When making a choice, always remember that there is no wrong or right option as long as your choice meets your electricity needs.
Finding The Most Efficient Inverter Type
The efficiency of a solar inverter depends on your home and where you will install your solar panels. If your home’s roof only has little to no shade at all, a central inverter will work best for it. The reason is that the panels will quickly harvest energy from the sun, thus providing the inverter with the most DC electricity.
Even better, a central inverter requires the least amount of hardware. For this reason, it is a cost-effective option and is easy to install.
A micro solar inverter is a reliable option for homes with complex, partially shaded roofs. It is also the best choice for people who are looking to upgrade their solar power system in the future.
Advantages And Disadvantages
The ideal thing about micro solar inverters is that you do not need to worry about branches and others partially shading your solar panels. The reason is that every panel on the solar power system individually transmits solar energy into the inverter. However, the downside is that it requires a lot of hardware, which is time-consuming and somewhat expensive.
Moreover, large homes that want to benefit from solar energy storage systems should opt for hybrid inverters. If you only need to supply power to a small house, a solar power system with a hybrid inverter will not cost much. However, it is essential to note that the price of the installation will depend on how advanced your system is.
But regardless of your solar inverter choice, the main thing that you need to ensure is that your preferences answer to the electricity requirements of your home. It would be best if you also consider the parameters of your home to ensure that you are getting a suitable inverter. (source)
Summing Things Up
Can you leave an inverter on all the time? The simple answer is yes. It is ideal for keeping your inverter switched on every time so that your solar power system will automatically supply electricity during a power outage.
However, there are cases when it is better to switch the inverter off. For instance, turning your inverter off is more beneficial than switching it on if you go on a vacation for a month or two. The reason is that the battery connected to the inverter will have less self-discharge, so it will last longer without receiving energy from the sun.
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