Inverters are remarkable devices that can do a great deal of work in your solar power system. An inverter's primary job is to convert the DC power made by your solar panels into usable AC power for your home's lights and electronic devices. But today's modern inverters can do so much more than that. Many inverters nowadays can even have a charger built into them. But is that charger actually necessary in your inverter? What's its purpose anyways? Keep reading to find out more.
What Does the Charger Do?
If the term 'charger' brings to mind batteries for you, then you're on the right track to determine the purpose of the charger built into your inverter. Inverters with built-in chargers are designed to be connected with a solar battery bank. The charger helps to control the flow of the electrical charge to the batteries so that they don't become overcharged or damaged by sudden surges in electricity.
For this reason, they are also often referred to as charge controllers. Charge controllers can also be purchased separately and attached to an existing inverter that doesn't have a built-in charger.
Are They Necessary?
Based on the fact that charge controllers can be purchased separately from an inverter, you might have guessed that they are not entirely necessary for your inverter to function properly-and you'd be right. An inverter can properly convert your DC power to AC power without a charge controller being present. It can also be connected to a city grid without a charger.
Ultimately, it depends on whether or not you want to connect that battery bank mentioned above. If you have a hybrid or off-grid system with battery backup, you'll need that charger to protect the batteries and ensure they properly charge. However, if you have a grid-tied system, you will be able to get by just fine without one.
Which Types of Inverters Have Them?
As stated above, grid-tied inverters don't need charge controllers, so you won't usually have inverter/chargers designed for grid-tied systems. Rather, they're most commonly built into off-grid and hybrid inverters. Of course, not every off-grid and hybrid inverter has these built in. You will still find some without these devices built in, so if you know you'll be adding a battery bank to your system, make sure that you're purchasing a Cotek inverter/charger to protect your solar batteries. If you buy an inverter without one, you can still purchase a charge controller and attach it to your system. Work with a professional to ensure it's installed correctly.