Off Grid Systems – Key Products
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Appliances in a home operate on AC current. Solar and other renewable sources generate DC current. An inverter is required to convert DC current from the renewable source to usable AC current for appliance and other home powering needs. But where does the “charger” part come in? In an off grid application, batteries are used to store energy for later consumption when the sun is not out, or the wind is not blowing. Because there is variability in the renewable source, a generator is often incorporated into the system to charge batteries when needed. Because the output of most generators is AC. Essentially, an off-grid inverter/charger will convert power from DC to AC for consumption and AC to DC for charging.
It might seem redundant to have an inverter/charger and a charge controller, but each serves its own purpose in an off-grid system. A charge controller allows power from a DC source like a solar array to charge the batteries.
A truly off grid solar system must incorporate batteries to achieve true energy independence. Batteries function as the “bank” where excess renewable is deposited and then later withdrawn when needed. Required battery capacity, measured in kWh (kilowatt-hours), depends on the size of the loads that will be powered, meaning that there is no “one size fits all” answer. Other battery considerations include battery chemistry, battery size, storage and recyclability of battery materials.