As people are becoming increasing aware of the environmental impacts of electricity generated by fossil fuels, many are switching to solar panels as a means of offsetting their carbon footprint.

And if the environmental advantages of using solar energy aren’t enough, the fantastic savings on electricity bills are surely enough for most to at least consider making the switch.

But what are the constituent parts of a solar PV system?

The solar panels themselves are one of the main parts of a solar energy system, and an array of solar PV panels are the most recognisable component of every solar system.

But another key feature, without which solar PV panels would be useless, are solar PV inverters.

Solar Inverter

What is a solar inverter?

A solar inverter is a device that is connected to the solar panels and is a key component of every solar energy system.

While the solar panels are responsible for creating electrical currents, the job of solar PV inverters is to convert direct current (DC) electricity into accelerating current (AC) power.

This is the type of electricity that is needed to power appliances in homes and businesses, and it can also be fed back into the electrical grid, allowing homeowners to save extra money by utilising any unused solar electricity.

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How solar PV inverters work

As well as inverters, every solar energy system contains PV panels themselves, which contain solar cells. These cells contain semiconductor materials such as silicone, which interact with protons from sunlight.

This is transformed into an electrical current, creating DC power. The electrical current created by solar cells then passes through a solar inverter, converting it into AC electricity that can be used in homes and businesses.

It is for this reason the solar inverters are not an optional add-on – they are in fact crucial to the functioning of a solar PV system.

Solar panels work by converting the sun's energy into electricity

The cost of solar inverters

Typically, the cost of a solar panel system, including the solar inverter, is included in a quote given by a solar panel installation company.

The solar inverter itself will generally cost in the region of €700 to 1,100.

Higher end solar inverters which can generate much more electricity can cost a lot more, such as central inverters, but these are not necessary for the average homeowner.

The average cost of an overall solar panel system in Ireland is between €4,000 and €12,000, but again, this can vary.

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Types of solar panel inverters

String inverter

String inverters are the most common solar inverter for homeowners and have been around for many years. An array of solar panels are arranged into rows, or strings.

There is just one inverter installed for each string of solar panels, but multiple strings can be connected to the same solar string inverter.

Types of solar panel inverters

Hybrid inverters

Hybrid inverters are generally much less common than other types of solar inverters. A hybrid inverter interacts with solar batteries through something called ‘DC coupling’.

This occurs when the batteries and solar panels use one inverter – and the DC from the solar panels charges the batteries via a DC charger.


Micro-inverters, as you might have guessed, are very small – not much bigger than the average mobile phone.

They are more modern than string inverters, and have their own advantages. Each solar panel requires its own micro-inverter which means that they interact with each panel individually, optimising energy production.

Central inverters

A central inverter is a large device, used for large-scale solar systems which need hundreds of kW of volume.

These aren’t used for residential properties where a homeowner merely wants enough electricity to power a home and sell surplus electricity back to the grid.

used for large-scale solar systems which need hundreds of kW of volume

8 Years

A typical solar installation is fully paid back within 8 years. All our panels are under warranty for 25 years, so you will enjoy 17 years of free energy generation.

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As of May 10th 2023, the government has removed all VAT on Solar installation and solar panel supply. Solar has never been more affordable. 

Government Grants

There is are a number of government grants available for all new solar installations. Our team will guide you through the application process. 

What makes a good solar inverter?

When looking at the various types of solar inverters, and choosing the right one for you, there are a few boxes that you can tick to ensure you are making the right decision.

But perhaps most important thing that will determine the inverter you choose will be its power – which will be directly linked to the number of solar panels that make up your PV system.

solar panels, solar inverter, install PV inverter

Which size of solar inverter is best?

Unfortunately, there is no straightforward answer to this question, as it will depend on your individual requirements, which can vary widely.

But ultimately, our advice would be to get an inverter which has the capabilities to handle the maximum power output that your solar system will be able to produce.

This means that if you want a 4 kW solar PV system, you will need to have 4kW panels installed as well as a 4kW inverter.

Are solar PV inverters weatherproof?

Whether a solar inverter is waterproof is something to keep in mind when considering which one to buy and where it will be installed.

Waterproof inverters are generally better as they offer homeowners flexibility around where to have it located; however a cage can also be bought to protect it from the glorious Irish rain.

In short, the more protected your inverter is from the elements, the longer it will last, and its increased longevity will afford you peace of mind in the for the years to come.

solar energy in Ireland

Displays on solar inverters

Before choosing an inverter, it might be a good idea to have a look at the solar inverter display to determine how much information is available on it.

The display is, simply, an LCD screen on the actual inverter.

Most inverters have a multi-function screen so that we have a better understanding about how the system works as well as its current status.

Best solar panel inverter

Again the best solar inverters for solar energy production will depend on an individual’s personal needs.

Some of the highest performing solar inverters are not only unnecessary for the average solar energy user, but they can also result in a higher upfront cost.

So the best inverter will likely be the one which can produce all the electricity you need, without being unnecessarily big that it drives up the costs and prolongs the solar payback period.

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Where should an inverter be located?

The ideal location for your solar inverter is somewhere away from direct sunlight, and with good air ventilation.

Its location should also be easily accessible for the purposes of maintenance, and moisture resistant if possible.

Think of cool garages, sheds, and other darker locations, as direct sunlight will reduce the inverter’s lifespan.

inverter location

Off-grid Inverters

An off-grid solar inverter draws power from a battery, converts it from DC, and produces AC electricity.

These off-grid inverters, as their name suggests, cannot interact with the utility grid and they work independently.

However, they are suitable for smaller systems, if homeowners are not interested in selling electricity back to the grid, or if their system is incapable of producing enough electricity to have surplus energy to sell back.

off-grid solar inverter draws power from a battery

Other components of a solar system

Smart meter

Smart meters are an upgrade on the old electricity meters, and they are being rolled out across Ireland by the ESB.

The ESB is about halfway through installing over 4 million smart meters across the country, allowing people to gain a more accurate reading and also sell excess solar energy.

With solar PV panels, those who have a smart meter installed essentially benefit twice.

This is because they get discounted rates after 11pm, and free electricity from their solar PV panels during daylight hours.

As well as this, smart meters also allow people with a solar panel system to sell excess electricity back to the national grid, meaning that no electricity produced by a solar system is wasted.

Solar energy storage systems

A home energy storage battery, also referred to as solar batteries for our purposes, is a simple concept. They store excess electricity generated by solar PV panels in a battery so that it can be used at a later time.

Whether Lithium-Ion or Lead-Acid, solar storage batteries are simply systems can store a significant amount of electricity.

Solar energy storage systems like batteries ensure that none of the electricity being generated by your solar PV system goes to waste.

Other advantages of solar inverters

The main and most obvious advantage of having a good quality solar inverter is that without it, your PV panels wouldn’t produce AC electricity which is needed to power a home or business.

But solar thermal panels don’t produce AC power, and a solar PV inverter is not necessary.

The main advantage of inverters is that they are connected to solar photovoltaic (PV) panels, which have the capability of producing free, green electricity.

This is one of the main ways we can drastically reduce our carbon footprint, and transition towards a green future.

advantages of home solar panels

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Now that you know a thing or two about solar inverters, you might wish to start the ball rolling on your journey towards utilising this renewable energy source today with a quote – 100% free of charge!

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