7 Things to ensure before buying a solar inverter

So you have already decided to opt for the clean solar power system at your home or office. But before implementing the solar installation make sure that that you are going for the right solar inverter which is considered to be the heart of your solar power system. It is said so because a solar panel can convert the direct current into alternating current only with the help of an inverter. Not only this but a solar inverter reduces the user’s overall electricity consumption and the money spent on paying the monthly utility bill. So keeping up in mind its immense importance, we have aligned some important aspects to look for in a solar inverter.

 

1) Calculate your power requirements

Before buying a solar inverter you should know what are your power requirements. When there is a power cut determine what are the equipments that are necessary for you at such time. Then look for the power ratings of these equipments. For eg: you would want to use three ceiling fans(90W each), three tubelights(30W each), one CFL(15W), one laptop(70W) and one desktop(120W). Then your power requirement will be the sum of the watts of all the equipments i.e 565 W.

 

2) Determine VA rating of the inverter

Often VA rating and Watt rating are confused to be the same but they are actually not. Watt is the power drawn or supplied by an equipment. VA is the apparent power which is obtained by multiplying the Voltage and Current supplied by an equipment. The relation between VA and Watt is as follows –  Power rating of the inverter (VA) = Total power requirement (Watt)/Power Factor (PF) of the inverter.

Check the PF of the inverter, generally, it lies between 0.6 to 0.8.

So applying the above, you would need an inverter whose VA rating lies between 706 VA to 940 VA (Approx).

If the amount of VA rating is less than your power requirement then your inverter will get tripped because of overload and nobody wants that to happen at their hour of need.

 

3) Check the certifications of the inverter

Certifications ensure that your solar inverter is not only safe but also at par with the standards set by the leading solar power generating organizations. There are some standards that are mandatory to have in the solar inverter while other standards are used to verify the various power ratings as promised by the manufacturer. All in all make sure your inverter is certified for the respective standards. Typically Solar Inverters should comply to several of the IEC standards and a few required certifications are stated here.

  • IEC 62116- Anti-islanding
  • IEC 62109- Safety
  • IEC 61683- Efficiency
  • IEC 60068- Environmental
  • EN 61000- EMC
  • IEC 60529- Ingress Protection

 

4) Servicing and maintenance 

Generally, the lifespan of a good solar inverter is in many years, even when it is subjected to very harsh conditions. But to make sure that the inverter is working with its full efficiency, yearly servicing is required. This includes qualified technicians to check the proper connections between the cables and the removal of the worn out parts of the inverter.

Make sure that the company is always available for you when the time comes and always show support.

 

5) Support during Voltage variation  

There are times when there are sudden variations in voltage such as low grid voltage. So at those times, it is important for the inverter to maintain giving continuous power supply to the household/workplace. For a good solar inverter, the voltage variation support should range from 120V to 280V.

 

6) Load Surge Capacity

Most equipments like AC, washing machine and pumps need inrush currents that can range from 3 to 10 times their steady-state currents. For eg – A 1KVA inverter with 3x surge rating can smoothly handle an AC or a washing machine than a 2KVA inverter with 1x surge rating. So it is very important for the solar inverter to have the surge capacity to handle such kind of sudden loads that is necessary for starting above stated electrical equipments.

 

7) Protections

Apart from all the above features that a solar inverter must have, you should always go for the one that has protections like – short circuit protection, battery protection, IP protection(for eg- If you are placing your inverter outside, please make sure you have at least IP 54 rating,though IP65 is the best option) and earth leakage protection. With these savior features put all your worries to rest and enjoy the clean solar power energy at your home.

 

ThingsCloud Remote Monitoring Solutions

ThingsWiFi- A  Iot based  remote monitoring system for ThingsHiFi (Made in India Grid Tied Inverter from Things Cloud) as well as third party inverters.

It helps to track the details on the performance of the entire solar system. It enables regular monitoring, collection and transmission of production data of photo voltaic systems. It displays key performance data including Energy generated (both current & cumulative data) & Energy fed to the Grid etc.

ThingsWiFi also allows to access data through your smart devices (Android or iOS) at any point of time and anywhere. It is one of the platform where the integrator can review all PV plants at the same time and ensure all are working in good shape. It also give insights on scheduling of O&M.

It also can be used to remotely monitor any device which works in Modbus protocol. It is been used by many energy management companies.

Attached images of Things Wifi which is connected with Delta Grid Tied inverter and screen shots of Mobile applications.

Solar Inverters

As we all know solar energy is one of the key answers to our energy problems. But technology to harness this energy is fragmented, with no single solution to address all the issues. Existing Solar Inverter technologies force the user to make a choice of whether to invest in an off grid or on grid solution.

On Grid solutions are impractical where power outages & fluctuations are more, like in remote villages and many tier 2 cities. Power outages & fluctuations during the day time cause wasting solar energy, which can be neither used locally nor fed back to the grid. Besides the wastage, grid feed solutions cannot provide 24 hour power backup and users will have to invest in additional backup infrastructure. An Off grid solution involves heavy investment in batteries and maintenance of the same.

Here we are analyzing these inverters below

Off Grid Systems

                                                                             Courtesy: Whole sale Solar

Off grid connected solar is a solar electricity system with battery backup. During the day, the batteries get charged as well supplies to the load. During the absence of sun ie evening or rainy days, can utilize the stored power in the battery. As it is off the utility grid its called Off grid system. It is also known as standalone systems.

Now days off grid systems are connected to grid to ensure there is no black out. In the absence of solar & battery backup, it makes sure that the loads are working either in bypass mode or battery which is being charged from the grid.

While designing the system, have to make sure the connected load should be equivalent to the capacity of the inverter and have enough surge handling capability if there is an inductive load.

Merits:

  • Standalone independent system (Can be used for remote places, forest & hill areas where utility grid reach is not possible)
  • Back up

Demerits:

  • Recurring cost of batteries (based on the life of batteries it may vary. Improper charging of batteries may cause recurring cost even worse. Lithium Ion batteries are with longer life, but the cost is too high as they are in the initial stages)
  • More losses
  • High System Cost

Grid Tied Solar System

                                                                          Courtesy: Whole sale Solar

 Grid tied or grid connected solar is a solar electricity system without batteries. During the day time, the generated power will be feed to the utility grid, if the grid is available. These inverters take grid voltage as reference voltage and fed to the grid.

 In the absence of grid, it will not feed to the grid, even though solar is available

Merits:

  • No recurring cost
  • Fastest ROI
  • Highly efficient

Demerits:

  • No back up
  • It will not generate power, if there is a high fluctuations in the grid
  • It will not generate power, if the grid is not available

Why Hybrid system?

As we seen above, there are merits and demerits in both the systems. If we have a system with the merits of both systems would be the answer for hybrid system. Hybrid system is nothing but grid tied system with battery bank.

During the day time it will charge the battery as well as supply to the load. If there is excess energy is generating, will feed back to the grid.

                                                                          Courtesy: Whole sale Solar

 Why ThingsCloud?

 We are building the next generation of clean, connected, controllable inverter that can work round the clock, irrespective of the state of local grid. Also it can learn our usage patterns and store only as much we required to serve the load, the balance will be sold back to the grid. And what we need is actual 24 hour access to energy. We believe, it can actually make a difference and accelerate adoption of solar solutions among the masses.

Our patented technology gives users the freedom from having to choose between an on grid or off grid solution. With our grid interactive solution, users can generate, consume, store or sell the solar energy. In addition, our machine learning algorithms, coupled with mobile app which can control, monitor, and improve your power consumption, generation and storage patterns. Learning of energy requirement patterns can improve the life of battery by controlling the charge-discharge cycles.

The “Things HiFi” inverter from Things Cloud does all of this and more. “Things HiFi” sends all energy generation and consumption parameters to the cloud, where algorithms are run to ensure every system runs at peak efficiency. Our mobile app keeps the user up to date and gives him regular tips on how he can improve energy efficiency. We can push improved control system algorithms to the inverter from the cloud. It is an always on, always learning solution.

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Why India needs Grid Interactive Inverters?

Before we get to what grid interactive inverters are, let’s talk about what solar power is. Solar Power, as the name suggests is the conversion of sunlight into electricity.

We’ve used it in solar powered calculators, to begin with, and it is now increasingly becoming a popular substitute for electricity in offices, industrial spaces, and homes too.

As solar alternatives continue to become more popular each day, implementation has been increasing and it’s becoming less expensive than it was a couple of years ago.

To really understand the options available in the solar market and to help us make an informed decision when it comes to making a purchase, here is a brief of the basics..

The Solar Market is broadly categorized into three segments globally

1. Solar Off-Grid

Off Grid Inverters are principally meant to be used with solar power systems (or wind and hydro) for a home or business totally disconnected from the electric utility company.

Solar-Off-Grid

Solar Off-Grid System

They can also be used for providing emergency backup power when the electric company’s power fails.

2. Solar Tie / Grid Tie

A grid-tie inverter is a power inverter that converts direct current (DC) electricity into alternating current (AC) with an ability to synchronize to interface with a utility line and provides net metering capability.

Net metering allows a solar power system owner to sell surplus energy back to the utility. This extravagantly reduces or even eliminates your electric bill.

Impressed yet? It gets better..

3. Solar Grid-Feed: Grid Interactive Inverters

Grid-interactive systems are based on their grid-tied and off-grid counterparts.

Like the inverter in grid-tied systems, the grid interactive inverter can convert solar-generated DC power into AC power that is then fed directly to the grid.

Solar Grid-Feed

Solar Grid-Feed

Solar Grid Interactive Inverters

Solar Grid-Interactive

In a grid-interactive system, however, the inverter does a lot more.

1. The inverter keeps the battery fully charged so that it can take over during power outages.

2. When the grid goes down, which is when the inverter kicks in, the grid interactive inverter seamlessly converts DC power into AC power from the fully charged battery while still converting solar generated DC power and using that as well.

You can check out our own highly efficiency Solar Grid Interactive inverter – ThingsHiFi.

With ThingsHifi, you can use solar energy to generate electricity for your home, office, or any kind of industrial setup. At the same time, you can stay care-free during power cuts because of its build in UPS.

That’s not all – power generated that is not used by you can be sent back. In effect, you can sell this power back to the grid.

How IoT disrupted the Milk Industry

Amul disrupted the Milk industry in 1950’s and caused what we popularly called milk revolution, since then annual milk production and collection has be raising annually over 10%.

Technology made its ways to many sectors, but still milk collection has be archaic and needs a second revolution – IoT in the milk industry.

Milk is collected in various villages across India in collection centers, which in turn is transported from collection centers to Milk Processing units. iot in the milk industry

The most important thing is what happens in the Milk collection center at villages, rather than Milk Processing units, because the quality of the end milk depends on maintaining the quality of the milk at village level.

Many co-operatives now use Milk Chillers at collection centers, in a way that solves the problem, but not quite enough.

The problem with having just chiller is that, the Milk Processing plants will not know a number of important factors related to the process.

How much milk is coming today? What is the temperature of the milk? Quality of the milk, these parameters needs to be monitored constantly to improve the ROI of the milk.

This is where IoT in the milk industry can be a game changer. We installed our IoT devices in few places at Collection centers and delivered a game changing insights, which improved the collection ROI by 25%.

iot in the milk industry

We also found out that Chillers were not being cleaned optimally, which was major cause of quality degradation of the milk at collection points.

What was considered unknown and unmanageable, suddenly became known and predictable.

The milk co-operative was not only able to get an accurate milk collection by 7am in the morning, but also could constantly monitor the milk temperature remotely across their chilling centers.

Power Sector is moving from Energy Monitoring to Energy IoT as consumers becoming producers

Directing the power sector to Energy IoT

When the power plant was brought up in the earlier days it use to be of the size of several 100’s of Megawatts, built in remote location and electricity was transmitted over 100’s of miles to the point of consumption.

Because the installation runs in 100’s of millions of dollars, if not billions power plant operator can manage a team of experts installing and monitoring the system.

These monitoring systems like SCADA can run into half-a million dollar type of cost and man power to manage it. This is still ok if you have large power plant.

power sector to energy iot

With the advent of Solar, individual home-owners can produce power as low as 1KW and sell it to grid or to their neighbors. 

Even small plant like this one cannot have the luxury of sophisticated monitoring system, until IoT comes into picture.  With IoT the entire site operations can be automated.

Once the data goes to cloud in IoT framework, Machine Learning and AI algorithms can make the prediction of energy generation, any problem in the site or managing the maintenance schedule autonomous without any human intervention.

ThingsCloud Becomes Part of NASSCOM COE IOT

It’s been a long journey for we at ThingsCloud, and we are excited to be part of NASSCOM’s COE IoT Lab. The Lab is super awesome with the latest and greatest tools at our disposal to test and qualify our products to world class standards.

The biggest challenge for startups in the hardware space are the availability of sophisticated tools for testing and measurement and these tools are expensive. This greatly affects the product development time significantly.

In this 21st century, access to electricity is a fundamental right and we can leapfrog implementation by directly going solar in India, thus eliminating energy poverty.

IoT lab’s initiative is significant in this area and is a great enabler for startups and it will go long way in building an IoT ecosystem in India.

Allevating Energy Poverty

Solar Energy is helping eliminate Energy Poverty

From only about 30 GW of renewables today, India aims to achieve a capacity of 175 GW by 2022, of which solar is going to account for about 100 GW.

The target by 2030 is 350 GW, of which 250 GW is likely to be solar-based. This translates to Annual Growth of 29% YoY for next 7 Years and 21% growth after that.

Solar and storage together will also act as a tool for lifting 35 crore Indians off-grid —around 50% of India’s rural population — and out of energy poverty.

In this 21st century access to electricity is fundamental right and India should leapfrog implementation by directly going solar in India.

In industrial setups, Machine Learning and AI algorithms can make the prediction of energy generation, any problem in the site or manage the maintenance schedule autonomous without any human intervention.

Households can produce power as low as 1KW and sell it to grid or to their neighbors.

India will reportedly require about $250 billion of investment in the renewable energy sector by 2022 to achieve these Goals.

The big question remains how is India going to achieve this ?

The Only way that is possible is that public-private partnerships that ensures the success of implementation of government programmes without leakage.