Role of Inverters in Solar PV Systems

Inverters are a critical part of all PV systems. Inverters in solar PV systems perform the major function of converting the DC electricity from solar panels into AC electricity as required to power appliances or to be connected to the utility grid.

Lifespan of Solar PV Inverters

A solar PV system is said to have a lifespan of around 25 years. However, same is not the case with the solar inverters. Most inverters come with a life-expectancy of ten years.

Although the estimated lifespan of solar inverters is ten years, there are cases where inverters have lasted for 20 years or more. Most inverters require regular maintenance in order to ensure that they are working efficiently; inverters sometimes do require repair.

Any malfunctioning of the inverters can cause complete shutdown of the PV system. When that happens, neither usable power is generated nor is there any return on customer investment.

Inverters typically get replaced after ten years, and the replacements costs can be significant – sometimes up to 10% of the total capital cost for the project.

Factors Affecting the Lifespan of Inverters

A PV inverter comprises of passive components like capacitors, inductors and also electromechanical devices like relays and switches. They are complex, mechanical devices which comprise the major portion of maintenance expenditure related to PV systems. They are prone to environmental stressors irrespective of whether they are located indoors or outdoors.

Several factors can affect the life of inverters. High ambient temperatures deter the performance of inverters. Hence care should be taken regarding the positioning of inverters. Moreover voltage fluctuations and low grid power quality can adversely affect the life span of inverters.

To increase the longevity of inverters, it should be ensured that they remain clean and do not overheat. A quarterly inspection no them for visual signs of damage and to verify that the air and fan grills are free from dirt can make a difference to the life expectancy of inverters.

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