Getting Off the Grid—Think Before You Buy

solar inverters

There’s no question of the popularity of ‘getting off the grid’. If you look at solar energy alone, this industry may double by 2024. Alternative energy sources are helping millions of people get access to utilities. With power from the sun, many individuals enjoy an improved quality of life. As an added bonus, these systems benefit the environment because they don’t use unsustainable resources.

So, what are you waiting for? Get onboard!

Truthfully though, you may be wise by not being too hasty in getting off the grid. When you’re considering buying generators, solar panels or inverters, it requires careful consideration. Buying the wrong items may have unfortunate consequences, such as damaging some of your electronic assets.

The importance of buying quality equipment becomes clear when you consider your inverter options. Let’s unpack this topic to help you make a wise investment.

Inverters Explained

We’ll describe inverters as part of a renewable energy system, such as a solar power kit. In simple terms, an inverter will be the component connecting the solar panel unit to the item you want to power. This can be your home, or devices around the campsite if you’re using solar power during your outdoor holiday.

The inverter converts energy. This is necessary because the energy flowing from the solar panel is in DC (Direct Current) format. This isn’t compatible with most appliances in your home, because they require AC (Alternating Current) power.

Two Types to Consider

When shopping for your inverter, you’ll find different options. One decision you need to make is picking between modified sine wave inverters and pure sine wave devices.

Confused? Let’s explain.

With a pure sine wave inverter, the voltage exiting the inverter can be in the form of a typical sine wave curve. In contrast, with a modified sine wave inverter, the signal is ‘blocky’. This happens because modified sine wave inverters were designed to make voltage move straight up and down.

This signal from a modified sine wave inverter is still AC current, but it’s not of the same quality as power from a pure sine wave. The choppy wave is synonymous with interference. Also, if you power up an audio device while using a modified sine wave inverter, you’re bound to hear a bothersome hum.

Does this really matter?

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Why You Need the RIGHT Inverter

One difference between the two inverter types is how smooth the current flows. Without a consistent flow, some devices may get damaged or deliver sub-par performance. The effects of a choppy current can be detrimental.

For some electronic appliances, it doesn’t really matter what you use. But the moment one of the following features apply, you risk damaging your assets or at the very least they won’t work properly:

  • Your appliance uses an AC motor: You’ll find AC motors in many home appliances, including your fridge and microwave oven. This means you need a pure sine wave inverter if your solar power system is meant to power your entire home.
  • You’re powering healthcare devices: This isn’t only a concern for healthcare facilities. Even the CPAP machine you use at home has delicate components, such as the humidifier, that you shouldn’t risk damaging.
  • The appliance has a thyristor: You’ll find thyristors in many copiers, so sending current to your office requires investing in a pure sine wave inverter.
  • There are electronic ballasts: This means you can’t assume that all your lighting will be unscathed when you use a modified sine inverter. Certain fluorescent globes may have an electronic ballast and a modified sine wave inverter may prevent optimal functioning.  

If these aspects don’t apply to the devices you want to power, you can be more flexible about what you buy.

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There is not a better choice to make right now. Currently we have an uncertain energy future and acting today will reserve your opportunity to get off the grid.

Making Your Decision

So, you know what may possibly go wrong. How do you make the right decision for you?

What is Your Budget?

Your budget matters because there’s a considerable difference in the price between pure sine wave and modified sine wave inverters. The latter is considerably cheaper. If you’re shopping on a budget, want to get off the grid and you only want to power up basic electronics, the cheaper option will suffice.

What Will You Use it for?

It’s wise to make a list of the items you want to power. Think of all the scenarios you’ll use your solar power or generator in. If you’ll travel with it on vacation which devices will you need current for? Now consider, based on the tips we mentioned above, whether any of the appliances are at risk of being damaged. If the risk is too big, opt for a pure sine wave component.

What About the Future?

Don’t forget to plan ahead. You may find more uses for your solar power system in future. Instead of having to purchase an additional unit in future, invest in a type that will suffice in the long term.

[Conclusion]

With rising utility costs, unreliable service providers and our concern for the environment, there’s no time like the present to get off the grid. Simply make sure you get the gear that will ensure long-term satisfaction and won’t make you regret your decisions.

If you’re unsure of what’s best for your specific setup, talk to our experts.