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Solar Inverter Guide

Solar Inverter

A important part of every Solar Energy set up is the Inverter, it is a piece of equipment that is very important to understand.

What is an Inverter?                     

A power inverter, or inverter, is a power electronic device or circuitry that changes direct current  (DC) to alternating current (AC).This is Great for Solar Panels because you need it to simply absorb the sunlight and push it through the system in one direction. The inverter does not produce any power; the power is provided by the DC source.


 How do they Work?

The energy from your Panels or your Batteries are fed to the inverter, then, in turn, handles that energy by transforming the DC power to AC.

You get three main types of Inverters you can use, each one functions a bit differently to the other:

Grid-Tied & Hybrid Types

The Panels are connected directly into the inverter which then, in turn, plugs into your building electrical box (DB Board).

Hybrids are used for Grid-Tied / Off-Grid / Storage and generator inputs. All different Solar Power applications are possible with Hybrid variations, which is the most versatile option.  Hybrid inverters accept DC and AC power .

Here are the general functions that Grid-Tied and Hybrids typically perform:

  • Synchronise to the grid
  • Disconnect if the grid goes down
  • Use an alternative power source (solar, battery or wind)
  • Detect if any power sources are depleted and switch to another
  • Monitor power usage

Here are the different types available:

String Inverters


  •  Lowest solar inverter price 
  • Multiple MPPT inputs
  • Provides backup power

If you have an unshaded roof that gets 100% of the sun spread evenly and you have no shade from a chimney or tree the string variation is perfect, but if there are obstructions it can cause it to be  less efficient .

It’s a standalone box that is installed close to your fuse box and meter, the newer versions don’t tend to make much or any noise compared to older ones.



  • Super Efficient
  • Very Affordable
  • Long lifespan (around 15 years)



  •  Not efficient if panels are shaded



  • Easy to install
  • Expandable
  • Maximises output of each panel

These small variations are connected to the panel itself, they are easy and safe to install.  They can produce up to 25% more energy maximising the panel output .


  • Easy to install
  • Long-lifespan (25-year warranties)
  • Expandable and modular


  • More expensive
  • Maintenance requires rooftop access
  • Exposure to the elements can cause issues (not common)

Solar Optimisers

 The Solar Optimiser works with a String Inverter and  performs much like the Micro-inverter  by maximising the output of the Solar Panel


  •  Works with String Inverters 
  • Performs in the same way as a Micro-inverter
  • Affordable

These components are perfect if you already have the String variation or if you know which Panels are shaded or pitched differently.  They are connected to the panel itself much like the Micro-inverter .


  • Easy Installation
  •  Long lifespan (25-year warranties) 
  • Expandable and modular


  • Maintenance requires rooftop access
  • Exposure to the elements can cause issues (extreme cases)

Off-Grid Solar Inverters

Unlike the Grid-Tied options, an Off-Grid variation requires batteries, the power from the Panels charge the batteries directly then the battery power is then inverted to AC from DC batteries.

Off-Grid systems are more complicated, this is due to the extra components you will need such as the Charge Controller, Battery Monitors Circuit Breakers, Surge Suppressors and so on.


Hybrid Solar Inverters

 We saved the best for last, the Hybrid inverter really does of the best of both worlds.

Not only does the Hybrid inverter have all the features of an Off-Grid but it also works well with those who want to fall back to the grid.

Here are the main features:

  • For business and residential, it's the ideal choice
  • True Hybrids "blend" the energies together (more about that below)
  • They come in various sizes, small and large setups
  • Gaining in popularity which means the technology is getting better
  • More affordable than ever

Blended Energy

 The biggest Trademark of a Hybrid inverter is that it uses all the energy sources in the most efficient way to power your load.

What does this mean exactly?

Let's say your home is running 2kw (2000 watts) of power  and in this case, your solar panels are struggling to produce the 2kw of power, what then?

The inverter will register this and use the power it is getting from the solar panels,  let's say 1000 watts .

It will not only  use the (1kw)1000 watts, but it will also pull (1kw)1000 watts from the battery to make up the (2kw)2000 watts total .

And if there is no battery capacity it will pull the (1kw)1000 watts from the grid .

We Highly Recommend the Goodwe Hybrid Inverters

What Size is Needed?

 This section might get a little tricky because there is a difference between the capacity of the inverter and the output. The capacity speaks to the max DC energy can be fed into the device, while the output speaks to the max AC current you'll be using to power your home. For example,  if you buy a 4kW converter, but your panels are only capable of delivering 2kW, there's an imbalance .

If you plan on adding more panels, then you've made a pretty good investment. However, getting 4kW from your panels while your inverter can only handle a 2kW output seems like somewhat of a waste.  You're not using your system to its full benefits .

Something to consider...

If you have a Hybrid inverter that has a dual MPPT output feature you can split that load in 2.

  • 2600 watts (2.6kw) for the Geyser and Oven - Non-essential.
  • 2100 watts for the rest - Essential.

The ability to have to Essential and Non-essential load outputs allows you to prioritise your energy, bundling them all together is not only going to push up the price of your inverter (because you need a larger one),  it also gives you the option to only use your batteries exclusively on the essential load , driving down the cost of storage needed.

What does this mean? 

It means that your device size comes down, so instead of a 6kw option to handle it the complete load, you can get a 4kw or a 5kw option instead.


Solar Inverter Costs?

They have a wide range of prices depending on the brand and the performance it produces


Best Solar Inverters in South Africa

Each Brand has its Strengths and Weaknesses

Here are the brands that we would recommend:

  1. Goodwe - this Hybrid brand is of great quality and a great price
  2. Deye - Parent company has been around for a long time, good quality Hybrid inverters
  3. SMA - aesthetically great looking and compact, been around for a long time and best known for Grid-Tied
  4. Solis - efficient Grid-Tied and Hybrid options, been around a long time
  5. Kodak - A Voltronic make with KODAK branding, been around for a while

You Can see our inverters here

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