Solar inverters are increasingly becoming smart all-rounders: In addition to converting direct into alternating current, they are now used to analyze and control solar arrays and solar batteries as well as power-to-heat and smart home solutions. They include interfaces for digital communication and are connected with energy management systems which also incorporate electric vehicles. The growing number of inverter functionalities is primarily owed to digitalization, with investment cycles becoming shorter and shorter.
Just to give an example, the latest three-phase inverter by a renowned manufacturer now has an integrated interface for DC-coupled battery storage systems. Excess solar power can be stored in the battery directly – without major conversion losses – and used as needed. At the same time, the inverter – which is available in sizes between 5 an 10 kilowatts – controls, optimizes and monitors solar power generation. This helps households increase their solar self-consumption rate. The external interface allows for simple plug-and-play installation without specific cables being required. Maintenance is made easy thanks to remote access to the inverter and battery software.
More and more inverters enable the integration of high-voltage batteries or heat pumps, and will automatically switch over to off-grid operation in the event of utility interruption. The integrated charging function makes for considerable faster charging times for electric cars compared with conventional charging regulators.
Another trend are inverters of the latest generation using silicon carbide instead of pure silicon as semiconductor material. The increased power density does not only reduce the costs of a photovoltaic installation, but also makes installation easier thanks to the lower weight and compact design.
Intersolar Europe 2020 in Munich is a fantastic opportunity for visitors to discover first-hand the most important developments in inverter technology.