Solar panels have become sailors’ best friends over the last decades. PV systems charge boat house batteries even in the open sea and, unlike generators, they are silent and don’t smell. The energy can be used for anything on your boat, from lighting to laptop. However, certain appliances need AC instead of DC that PV modules produce. That’s where an inverter comes in and converts direct current to alternating. This is why we have a variety of marine inverters for you to offer.
How does a marine inverter work
Marine inverter performs several functions in a solar system:
- converts DC to AC;
- serves to maximize the production of an array;
- ensures the safety of a system;
- acts as a charger, which explains why some models for boats go under the name of marine inverter charger.
Inverter is not the same thing as a converter. Converter turns AC to DC, inverter does the opposite. Sailors generally use either generators paired with converters or solar panels paired with inverters in the sea.
How to size an inverter for your system
So what is the best marine inverter for your system? First of all, it should be well suited for the voltage of your solar installation. Most boat systems are 12 volt since energy needs are fairly small. The compatibility with the higher voltage systems is listed in specifications.
Of course, an inverter that compliments your system well should be sized accordingly. It is easy: the size of an inverter should be close to the DC rating of your array. For example, if you have two 300W panels, a 0.5 - 0.6 kW inverter is a good choice. If the DC rating of a system is more than 50% bigger than the size of an inverter, clipping starts and your system experiences energy losses.
How to install marine inverters
Installing an inverter on a boat is not that hard in theory. Ideally, it should be placed somewhere near the boat battery to minimize the power losses. Wire the battery and inverter together with large battery cables. Then you can plug a network filter into the inverter and plug in all the appliances afterwards. Sometimes you’ll need to add a fuse or a circuit breaker between an inverter and a battery for safety reasons — read the manual for more information about it.
The best place for a marine inverter is dry, dark and cool. Proper installation and maintenance can significantly prolong its lifespan, which is 10-15 years on average.
Here are some useful tips to make it serve longer:
- Wipe the dust off your inverter every once in a while, so it doesn’t overheat.
- Make sure the connections to the battery are clean and fixed tightly.
- Check the display of the inverter occasionally. If it shows an error, take it to the service.
- Inverters have air intake filters: air is necessary for cooling it down. After a while these filters get dirty and you have to clean them.
How much do marine inverters cost
The cost of marine inverters depends on their size and complexity. Usually the prices for the most simple marine power inverters start from $500 — $750 and can go up to several thousands.
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