Dabbling into solar energy means sorting out all the elements that will make up your whole solar setup. You’ve read and learned all about the essence of this renewable energy, solar panels. Now, it’s time to move on to the next component of your solar system: inverters. Since there’s a lot to consider, we’ve put together this 24 Volt Inverter Buyers Guide to help you at each stage of the buying process.
24V inverters are less common than 12V inverters, and most people choose them when they have to power appliances of over 3000 Watts with their solar system. As you read this 24 Volt Inverter Buyers Guide, you’ll understand the basics of 24V inverters, their best uses, what role they play in your system, and relevant considerations in the purchasing process.
24v Solar Inverter Basics
The first thing you need to know before purchasing an inverter is what they are and what they do.
A power inverter is a device that converts low-voltage DC (direct current) to standard household AC (alternating current) power. This energy conversion allows you to use electricity for powering everyday appliances. Inverters don’t produce energy on their own. They draw energy from other electrical sources producing DC, such as batteries or solar panels. The DC power source needs to provide enough voltage to meet the energy demands of the appliances.
Like solar panels, inverters have different voltage and wattage ratings. The inverter’s input voltage varies according to the design. Nonetheless, 12, 24, and 48 volts are the most common options. 12-volt inverters are commonly used in small systems, like RVs, whereas 24 and 48 Volts inverters are a popular choice for home energy systems.
Types Of Solar Inverters
Pure Sine Wave Inverter
Pure sine wave inverters produce the same power as utility companies. Their output voltage comes in the form of sine waves, a very harmonic and smooth waveform with little distortion. Since the current rises and falls smoothly below zero, they are perfect for running the most sensitive electronics. Pure sine wave inverters are more expensive, and homeowners typically combine them with modified sine waves inverters in a large solar system.
Modified Sine Wave Inverter
Modified sine wave inverters are more affordable and less efficient. Still, they are the most common among home solar systems. Modified sine waves inverters also produce power waves. The main difference is that the current takes the form of a square, abrupt wave. You can power most of the electronic devices with modified sine wave inverters. However, they’re not ideal for running delicate appliances that require a smooth and clean current.
How To Buy A Solar Inverter
In this section, you’ll find explanations of the essential aspects you have to consider when purchasing an inverter.
How Many Outlets Do You Need?
How many outlets you need depends on how many appliances you want to run off the inverter. Most inverters come with dual AC outlets, but there are inverters with up to four outlets. Some inverters also come with USB outlets to avoid using adaptors and large plugs to charge cell phones.
If the inverter’s inbuilt outlets aren’t enough, you can always plug in a power strip to your inverter output receptacle, and then plug the various devices into the power strip.
It’s normal for inverters to make a certain amount of noise. In most cases, it is the internal cooling fans preventing heat buildup. You can also expect higher noise when inverters are sustaining a high output for long periods of time. Still, most high-quality inverters are usually very quiet, and their noise is tolerable.
If the noise level is a primary concern for you, you can check your inverter’s noise level in the datasheet to ensure it will be silent. Also, you should install your inverter far away from bedroom windows or places where you spend lots of time.
Modified sine wave inverters can make a vibrating, humming noise when connected to certain appliances or devices, like computers or hair dryers.
How Much Voltage and Wattage Do You Need?
As mentioned before, inverters also have different voltage and wattage ratings. First off, a higher voltage doesn’t mean an inverter is the best option for you. The best inverter for you is the one that supplies your electrical needs.
When it comes to voltage, it’s important to match the inverter’s voltage to your appliances’. For example, you can’t use a 24V inverter to power 12V appliances; you’ll need a DC-DC converter to drop the voltage from 24V to 12V.
Generally, 12-volt inverters are an excellent option for smaller systems, like RVs, motorhomes, or vans, since these vehicles already have 12 V appliances. People resort to 24v when their energy demands are around 1,000 to 5,000 watts.
On a side note, more devices and appliances run on 12V than in 24V inverters.
Most inverters have a standard size ranging between 15.9 x 9.1 x 3.7 inches and 19.5 x 8.5 x 5.5 inches. You can always look for the exact dimensions in the inverter’s manual. Knowing the inverter’s exact size might not be relevant if you’re going to install it in your home. However, the size is important for people who want to install inverters in RVs or vans, given these have limited space.
Do You Need Remote Controls?
Remote controls aren’t necessary to set up and command your inverter. Most of the time, remote controls are a plus that people buy to turn the inverter off/on or to supervise it’s working properly from a distance. Still, always check the specifications to know if the inverter needs a remote control to work appropriately.
Having a remote control is convenient when you have installed the inverter in a hard-to-reach place or if you want to install it out of sight. Once again, people with RVs or vans find remote controls extremely useful.
Frequently Asked Questions
If you still have more questions, this FAQ section will help you solve common doubts when looking for inverters.
What Is The Difference Between An Inverter And An Inverter/Charger?
An inverter has only one function: turning DC power into AC power and then supplying it to connected devices and appliances. On the other hand, an inverter/charger is a device that combines the functions of a converter and an inverter.
Converters, known as chargers, convert AC power into DC power (the opposite of inverters), and their main function is to charge batteries (DC).
So, in simple words, an inverter/charger converts DC power into household AC power and it also converts AC into DC power to charge batteries. An inverter/charger remains connected to an external AC power source to charge the attached batteries. When the AC power is unavailable, the inverter automatically switches to a battery to produce energy.
What Is The Difference Between An Inverter And An Uninterrupted Power Supply (UPS)?
Inverters and UPS systems both can part of a system to provide backup power when AC power isn’t available. The main difference is that a UPS has a battery and battery charger in one standalone unit, whereas inverters don’t. Users have to buy a battery separately and then connect it to the inverter to supply the power for use.
Another major difference is that the main function of the UPS is to store the electric supply, whereas the inverter’s function is converting DC power into AC power.
Finally, the UPS responds faster during power outages. While the UPS instantaneously switches from the main supply to the battery, the inverter has a delay of 4.2 to 16.7 milliseconds.
What Kind Of Battery Should I Use With My Inverter?
Like any other electrical appliance, the battery (Learn more about batteries here) you choose should match the input voltage capacity of your inverter. In other words, if you have a 24-volt battery bank, you should use a 24-volt inverter. You can wire two 12V batteries in series to get a 24V battery bank, but it should always match the voltage.
Matching voltages is crucial for the safety and lifespan of batteries as you prevent over and undercharging them.
As for the design, choose a deep cycle battery. Deep cycle batteries can provide sustained power for longer periods of time and run reliably until they use up to 80% of their power. Also, their ability to deeply discharge, using most of its capacity makes them ideal for an inverter.
What Size Power Inverter Do I Need?
You need to select an inverter that matches your energy consumption. However, as a rule of thumb, you always want to buy a bigger sized inverter than the exact power output you require.
Before diving into numbers and formulas, you should know that your inverter supplies two power needs: surge and typical load power.
Surge power is the maximum power that an inverter can supply, usually for a few seconds up to 15 minutes. Surge power is particularly relevant in appliances with electric motors that require a much higher start-up surge (wattage) to start running.
Typical load power is the energy that inverters can supply on a steady basis. It’s usually much lower than surge power and runs continuously.
Calculating the Right Size
To calculate the right size for your inverter, you need three pieces of information:
- How many appliances you’ll plug into the inverter.
- For how long you want to run each appliance off the inverter.
- How much wattage does each of the appliances use.
Most appliances indicate their wattage on the label or in the manual. Sometimes, appliances may show voltage and amperage ratings instead. If this is the case, here’s a simple formula to help you calculate the wattage.
How to Convert Amps to Watts
Volts x Amps = Watts
Example: Let’s say you want to run a mini-fridge. The product label states it uses 0.7 amps. In the U.S., voltage is 120. Therefore:
120 x 0.7A = 84 Watts
Solar Inverter Safety Tips
First of all, follow all safety precautions and the installation guide carefully. When installing inverters, you’re dealing with potentially lethal voltages since you’re working with live current. So, you should have at least basic knowledge of electricity and wiring. If your knowledge is limited, hire an experienced electrician.
Here are few tips to ensure a safe and smooth installation process:
- Inverters 400W and higher should be hard-wired and include the proper fuses.
- Inverters will generate heat, so ensure you install it somewhere where it doesn’t receive direct sunlight and that allows for proper venting. Also, leave at least two inches of clearance on all sides and the top.
- Don’t install your inverter in areas exposed to rain, flammable substances, or dust.
- Make sure your inverter produces enough power for the device(s) you are running.
- Avoid adding adapters that allow more outlets than the unit’s design can accommodate.
- When installing an inverter in an RV, connect it to the battery used to power the RV’s interior, not the battery that powers the engine.
- Use the proper gauge wire depending on your inverter’s wattage.
- Always use a power inverter that matches the ratings of the device(s) you are running.
- Ground the inverter using its main grounding lug. You can usually do this by fitting the inverter’s ground connector around the shank of a bolt in the vehicle’s frame. Use the same gauge wire for the ground cable as for the supply cable.
- Connect your inverter to a battery with matching voltage and that is in good condition. Also, make sure the battery is fully charged when hooking it to your inverter.
- Make sure your wiring harness can handle the current before plugging in an inverter to your battery. Most manufacturers recommend 4 to 10 feet of cable length, depending on the inverter. Avoid aluminum wire because it has a higher resistance to current flow than copper wire.
Best 24 Volt Solar Inverters
To finish this 24 Volt Inverter Buyers Guide, we’ve compiled a list of the best 24-volt inverters on the market.
Modified Sine Wave Inverters
We’ll start this list with the best-modified sine wave inverters.
The Power Bright 400 Watt 24V Power Inverter is an excellent choice for RVers who’d like to power their appliances on the go. You can plug this inverter directly into your 24V cigarette lighter or attach the inverter directly to a 24 Volt DC battery to power TVs, laptops, and many other electronics in your vehicle. It’s lightweight and compact at 1.95 pounds, making it easy to install it in a hidden place within the RV. It also has a low noise level, which you’ll notice mostly when the fan starts.
If you’re thinking of powering larger appliances, then the Power Bright 1500 Watt 24V Power is an excellent choice. This inverter produces 1500 Watts of continuous power and 3000 Watts of peak power. It has a useful Digital Led Display, showing input DC Voltage and output Wattage, and an overload indicator.
The Giandel boasts an impressive efficiency of 90%. It comes with two 120 outlets, a USB port, and a remote control with a cable length of 15ft. Users highlight Giandel’s output voltage regulation. Once the inverter reaches the maximum output, an alarm sounds, and the inverter cuts off the output immediately, which is great for the device’s longevity. Unlike other inverters on the list, the Giandel has 18 months of warranty.
The AIMS 5000 Watt 24 Volt Power Inverter has been the most popular inverter of the brand. A great feature is that the AIMS makes little to no noise, making it an excellent option for users who can’t install the inverter far away. The AIMS comes with dual cooling fans and over-temperature protection that keeps it from overheating. It also features blade-style DC connections, offering the flexibility to run one set of cables or multiple sets, depending on your application.
Pure Sine Wave Inverters
Now, it’s time to review the most popular pure sine wave inverters.
With a 4.7 star rating at Amazon, you know the Aeliussine is a safe bet. A powerful inverter, the Aeliussine provides 1500 watts of continuous power and 3000 watts of surge power at 60Hz frequency. While it’s powerful, the brand hasn’t compromised noise levels, and the inverter remains quiet even when providing high energy output. Best of all, the Aeliussine comes at an affordable price.
EDECOA has been gaining a good reputation in the last few years. The amount of 120AC and USB outlets is the best feature of the EDECOA. It has more output outlets than any other inverter. The EDECOA also features a remote on/off switch and a detailed digital display. As for the design, it is ultra-compact and lightweight.
The Aeliussine Power Inverter 2000W Pure Sine Wave is an outstanding inverter. It can handle continuous loads for hours and works flawlessly even with heavy loads. At 6.44 pounds, the Aeliussine is compact and has a portable design. The unit doesn’t overheat, and the internal fan runs quietly. Finally, the Aeliussine has easy-to-read displays of DC input and AC output and comes with extra fuses.
A popular inverter, the Giandel 24 Volt 2000W Pure Sine Wave Power Inverter works flawlessly. This inverter produces a 4000W peak of power, which is perfect for running motor-equipped appliances. It also works smoothly with delicate appliances and doesn’t produce buzzing noises. The device’s fan is silent and stays off most of the time. The unit has a compact size and is easy to install.
Known for producing high-quality inverters, WZRELBs are some of the most reliable inverters in the market. The WZRELB 3000 watt Pure Sine Wave Inverter is a popular option for off-grid systems thanks to its dependability. Its digital LED display, showing dc and ac voltage, is very accurate. The WZRELB’s quality stands out in the market.
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