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    Solar Inverter

    A solar inverter or PV inverter is a critical component in a solar energy system. It performs the conversion of the variable DC output of the Photovoltaic (PV) modules into a utility frequency AC current that can be fed into the commercial electrical grid or used by a local, off-grid electrical network. An inverter allows use of ordinary mains-operated appliances on a direct current system. Solar inverters have special functions adapted for use with PV arrays, including maximum power point tracking and anti-islanding protection.
    Typically, communications capability is included so users can monitor the inverter and report on power and operating conditions, provide firmware updates and control the inverter grid connection. Depending on the grid infrastructure wired (RS-485, CAN, Power Line Communication, Ethernet) or wireless (Bluetooth, ZigBee/IEEE802.15.4, 6loWPAN) networking options can be used.
    At the heart of the inverter is a real-time microcontroller. The controller executes the very precise algorithms required to invert the DC voltage generated by the solar module into AC. This controller is programmed to perform the control loops necessary for all the power management functions necessary including DC/DC and DC/AC. The controller also maximizes the power output from the PV through complex algorithms called maximum power point tracking (MPPT). The PV maximum output power is dependent on the operating conditions and varies from moment to moment due to temperature, shading, soilage, cloud cover, and time of day so tracking and adjusting for this maximum power point is a continuous process. For systems with battery energy storage, the controller can control the charging as well as switch over to battery power once the sun sets or cloud cover reduces the PV output power. The controller contains advanced peripherals like high precision PWM outputs and ADCs for implementing control loops. The ADC measures variables, such as the PV output voltage and current, and then adjusts the DC/DC or DC/AC converter by changing the PWM duty cycle.
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