What Is a 3 Phase Solar Inverter and Do You Need One

solar panel

A 3 phase solar inverter from Sol Distribution is a component of the overall PV power system, converting direct current (DC) output from photovoltaic (PV) panels into an alternating current (AC) that can be used in the home.

Most houses have a single connection, though some may have a three connection. Regardless of which you have, the appliances you use will almost definitely use a single connection. A 3 phase solar inverter from Sol Distribution works by dividing the electricity into separate channels; for example your fridge might be powered by one channel and your lights by another.

Whatever electricity isn’t used will be transported into the grid via power lines, or stored in a battery if you have one. Some hybrid models will feature an integrated battery within the system. In order to get the most out of your panels it is important to have a high-quality model with a good cooling system. Cheaper, lower-quality models won’t work as well.


The benefits

While a 3 phase solar inverter will be more expensive than a single one, it is worth getting if you are running a lot of appliances (e.g. pool heater, sauna, multiple air conditioners). It also allows you to transport more energy to the grid (3-6 times) more, therefore potentially making you money!

By using three wires rather than one, the device doesn’t have to work as hard to get the energy into the grid. This means that you’ll be getting more power with less tripping or throttling as a result of voltage problems. Given that voltage issues are one of the main issues associated with this form of energy production, a 3 phase solar inverter is a highly valuable tool to have.


The drawbacks

The main downside of getting this component is the price – it is often up to $500 more expensive than a single one. However, if you can afford the upfront cost you should find that it pays off in the long-run, making it worth the investment.


Be aware of size

It is also essential to determine if your connection will affect the size of the system you’re installing. There are usually tighter size limitations on houses that have single connections compared to those with three connections. For example, PV system size might be restricted to 10kW in single connection buildings, whereas buildings with a 3 phase solar inverter could install a system up to 30kW. You may need utilities to give you special approval if you are installing large PV systems in a remote area, as these are often serviced by SWER lines.


How to determine if you need one

two men installing solar panels

There are several different ways to determine if you require a 3 phase solar inverter. You need to figure out if your property uses three connection power.

Switchboard

Check your switchboard – count the number of poles on the meter isolator or main switch; if there is only one, then you have a single one; if there are three, then you need a 3 phase solar inverter!

Overhead mains

Check to see if you have an overhead bundle cable – if you have just two cables then you’re running on a single connection. If you have four cables then you have a three connection (rarely will a house have a two connection, which may have three cables). You can also check lights or ISO links on the meter.

Meter

Check your meter – if you can see L1, L2 and L3 being displayed, it’s a three connection. If it’s just L1 and L2 then it’s a two connection.