Precise calculations of your energy consumption are essential for helping you choose many different parts of your solar power setup. You need to ensure you have enough solar panels to generate the power you use every day. It would be best if you had the right size battery bank to store backup energy for later consumption. Even your power inverter has certain limitations related to power supply and sizing. Here’s what you need to know to calculate the proper size for this piece of equipment.
What the Wattage Means
Inverters are rated in watts, which tells you the amount of power that the inverter can supply. But when reading this rating, don’t assume that the inverter itself generates that power—it’s not. The power is still coming from either your panels or your battery bank, but the inverter is like a “pipe” for the electricity; only so much power can flow through it at once. The higher the watt rating on an inverter, the bigger the “pipe,” and the more energy it can pass along to your home in the same instant.
Why This Matters
Why does the wattage on an inverter matter? Continuing with the “pipe” metaphor mentioned above, imagine that you have several appliances or faucets pulling water from one pipe at the same time. What will happen to the water pressure in your shower if others start using the same water flow at once? You’ll use water pressure. From an electrical standpoint, this means that there will be insufficient electricity, causing appliances and lights to flicker on and off if your inverter can’t provide enough electrical “pressure” to keep things going.
So, you need to ensure that you’re choosing an inverter with a high enough of a watt rating to meet your simultaneous consumption needs at any given time.
Calculating Your Consumption
When calculating your needs for a power inverter, you’ll need to calculate the average amount of energy you use through the day (the continuous rating on an inverter) as well as your peak usage when you’re using the most electricity at once (the surge rating on an inverter). To accurately calculate both, a kilowatt meter is your best bet. These devices can measure your average usage as well as displaying the amount of energy you’re using at any given time.
The Right Type of Inverter
Finally, make sure you’re choosing the right type of inverter. There are two types on the market: A modified sine wave inverter is cheaper, but it’s an older piece of technology, and some modern appliances won’t work well (or at all) with this kind of inverter. A Cotek pure sine wave inverter is a better option that will keep things running smoothly and at peak efficiency—so long as you’ve calculated your needs correctly!