The inverters are essential for every PV system. The necessity is no different in case of solar panels too. With the daily rise in the usage of solar panels globally, the importance of solar inverters has become all the more essential.
The inverters in solar PV systems play a vital role in converting DC electricity of the solar panels to AC electricity as per the requirement of the power appliances that are connected to the utility grid.
If the panel is producing more electricity than the optimum requirement, then the inverter will send the excess power to the grid or the battery.
If the electricity requirement is more than the production of the panels, then the inverter will meet the needs by pulling the extra power from the battery or the grid for supplementing.
The solar inverters are also responsible for keeping the system safe and secured. It makes sure that not excess electricity is produced or directed in a single direction. Moreover, these inverters also act as a guard against malfunctions like system overloads and electrical fires.
Nearly 3-7% of the power produced by the grid will be required to run the inverter. In industrial terms, this is known as the efficiency of the solar inverter. If the inverter is 94% efficient, it means that 6% of the power is required by the inverter for functioning.
How Long Do Solar Inverters Last (Average Lifespan)
Generally speaking, the average lifespan of a normal solar PV system is approximately twenty-five years. However, in the case of solar inverters, the picture is a bit different. In most cases, solar inverters have a general life expectancy of not more than ten years. Although the general estimate of a solar inverter is around ten years, there have been instances where it has lasted for around twenty years or even more. Most of these inverters require regular maintenance for smooth operation. They may also require occasional repair.
Any solar inverter malfunction can cause an absolute shutdown of the entire PV system. In such cases, neither the usable power can be generated nor there is any refund of customer investment.
The inverters generally get replaced after every ten years. The replacement costs are pretty expensive. It can cost up to 10% of the capital cost of the entire project.
Responsible Factors Affecting the Lifespan of the Solar Inverters
The lifespan of the solar inverters is dependent on a number of factors. Excessive ambient temperatures can affect the performance of the device. Therefore, the issue of positioning the inverter correctly for optimum performance is a matter of careful concern. Apart from this, low grid inferior power quality and fluctuating voltages also adversely affect the lifespan of these inverters.
Types of Solar Inverters and their Average Lifespan
- One-string inverters are the most popular type of solar inverter. It works for grid-tied solar panels. These are cost-effective and do not last for more than 10 years on an average.
- The 2-microinverters are quite expensive but comes with a variety of attractive features. The maintenance cost is low and comes with a life span of 15-25 years.
- 3 battery inverters are ideal for off-grid solar installation. They too like one-string inverters last for around 10 years.
- The weather-proof inverters are better built to withstand the weather extremities. It is better to install a weather-proof box for non-weather proof inverters.
Therefore, planning the budget for the maintenance of the solar panels, it is advisable to count the cost of replacement of the solar inverter after every 10 years. The warranties provided by the companies is also a determining factor for assessing the quality of the inverter. The warranty period of the companies generally ranges from 5-12 years.
For increasing the longevity of the inverters, it has to be ensured that it remains clean and do not get overheated. Regular inspection is required for fast detection of any sign of damage and quick address to the issue. These steps will ensure a longer lifespan and better performance of the solar inverters.