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When looking at the solar inverter, there are many different options to consider, from various types like string and microinverters to many different sizes and brands you’ll need to consider. One factor that you’ll have to keep in mind is whether or not you need a single-phase or a three-phase inverter. What do these terms mean, and how do you know which you need? Keep reading to learn more.
Three-phase inverters are only necessary for homes that have three-phase power. But what does that mean? All homes have either single-phase or three-phase power, which refers to how the house is connected to the city’s power grid. Single-phase power means that your home has one live wire coming in from the grid. And, as you can probably guess by now, three-phase power means that your home has three live cables from the grid.
Homes with three-phase power can pull more energy from the grid, which is useful for running larger power loads like pools and spas, electric car chargers, or actual air conditioning units. In terms of solar power, a three-phase system also means that you can send a lot more energy back into the city grid at once, should your solar setup produce more power than you need.
Which Do You Have?
So how do you know which type of power your home has? To figure this out, you’ll need to look at your switchboard. Please do this very carefully: Look, but don’t touch! Locate the number of poles on your main switch or your meter isolator. A home with single-phase power will only have one, while a three-phase home will have three.
What Do You Need?
So, if you have a three-phase home, do you need a three-phase inverter? Not necessarily. A solar power system will still work just fine on a three-phase power home if you install a single-phase inverter. However, you won’t be able to return power to the grid as efficiently. With SMA three-phase inverters, you can spread the inverter’s capacity across all three wires connected to the grid. This means you don’t have to push your solar power as much to feed it to the grid, which allows you to increase the local grid voltage less, causing less throttling or tripping from over-voltage issues. Simply put, your connection to the grid will be more efficient, and you’ll be able to get more of that excess power back to the city for those precious utility bill credits.