Do I Need A Battery For An Inverter

Due to the ongoing energy crisis, South Africans are well-acquainted with alternative and renewable energy solutions. In the rest of the world, purchasing an inverter and solar system is associated with living off-grid, where excess power is stored in batteries.

However, locally, we’re familiar with the idea that inverters can be grid-tied, allowing them access to electricity when recharging your batteries.

But do you need to buy batteries to install an inverter?

Before going further, let’s clarify what an inverter does.


What Does An Inverter Do?

An inverter’s primary role is to convert the Direct Current (DC) electricity generated by solar panels or wind turbines into Alternating Current (AC).

In homes, we use AC to power our devices. AC power is also more efficient when being transferred over distances, safer because it allows for the use of fuses and circuit breakers, and it is easier to regulate.

Inverters also optimise and maximise the efficiency of the energy-generating systems plugged into them. This function and feature is called maximum power point tracking (MPPT).

MPPT algorithms ensure that these power-generating systems generate the maximum power and enhance overall system efficiency.

Another major role an inverter plays in the solar system is monitoring and controlling the flow of power. This energy can be stored in a battery, consumed, fed to the grid or discharged safely into the ground.

This answers our main question, “Do I need a battery for an inverter?” No, you don’t.

While it is advisable to connect your inverter to a battery to store the generated energy, an inverter can divert power generated on the property when the systems are operational, such as solar power on a sunny day or wind turbine when it is rotating.

If you have power-generating capacity, the inverter’s role is to use it when it is operating, supplementing the power drawn from the grid. The inverter can also feed and sell excess power generated back into the grind.

You must meet certain requirements and apply to a participating municipality for this to occur.


Understanding Grid-Tie Inverters:

When an inverter is grid-tied, it can also be known as grid-connected or grid-interfacing. Certain inverters are designed to synchronise simultaneously with the utility grid and other power-generating sources such as generators.

Simply put, an inverter controls the flow of electricity, whether it is DC or AC current. Now that we know it’s not necessary to have a battery to install an inverter, what is the role of the batteries in the system?

It is important to note that grid-tie systems require a power reference to operate. The inverter references the grid to ensure that it is operational. When producing power from solar, the inverter uses its generated power to supply loads instead of the grid. This is how you recoup your investment in a system.

If there is no source of power reference (grid, generator, or alternative), the grid-tie inverter will stop generating power. This is a safety feature in all grid-tie inverters worldwide. The inverter must be able to isolate (or to be cut off from the grid and system) itself from the potential to provide power back to the grid where someone might be working on the infrastructure.


The Role of Batteries

If you live off-grid and produce your own power, it is crucial to have a battery for storage. They store excess electricity generated during sunny or windy periods for use when there is insufficient generation, such as at night, overcast or on calm days.

For those with an inverter and batteries connected to the grid, when being provided power, you can recharge your batteries using the electricity circulating the grid.

Now that we know a battery isn’t needed if your inverter is tied to the grid, are there any benefits of a battery-less system?


Benefits of Battery-less Grid-Tie Systems

For those unable to invest in batteries for their system, there are a number of benefits of having a battery-less grid-tied system, which includes:


Budget Friendly

Buying batteries for a grid-tie system will significantly increase the upfront costs. Opting for a battery-less setup can save on the expense of purchasing and maintaining batteries.


Simplified Installation and Maintenance

Batteries require regular maintenance and monitoring to ensure optimal performance and longevity.

Eliminating batteries simplifies the installation process and reduces ongoing maintenance requirements.


Grid as an Energy Piggy Bank

It’s hard to think of Eskom acting as an energy piggy bank, but when your

excess electricity is fed into the grid; you will receive credits or compensation for the surplus energy you’ve contributed.


Reasons to Get Batteries

While there are advantages to running battery-less grid-tie systems, there are also major reasons to fit a battery into your system. These include:


Backup Power

As a country experiencing continuous energy-producing issues, you must install a battery to ensure access to uninterrupted electricity.

You can add batteries to an inverter that’s grid-tied, allowing Eskom to charge them rather than installing a power-generating alternative.  It is important to know what the desired end result is for your system as this will impact your original decision making process.


Larger Savings With Energy Use

Storing excess energy in batteries allows you to use it whenever needed. Installing a system with batteries and solar panels will significantly reduce electricity costs.

But it also brings you closer to being off-grid.


Off-Grid Capability

Many South African homeowners aspire to transition to off-grid living in the future.

This means being completely off the grid and independent. But be aware that going off-grid can be expensive.

However, being independent and not reliant on anyone is a great feeling for homeowners wanting to take more control of their home lives.


There’s No Need For a Battery With An Inverter

The need for a battery in a grid-tie inverter system depends on various factors, including your energy requirements, budget, and long-term goals. But to answer the question, you don’t need a battery to benefit from an inverter.

Battery-less configurations are cost-effective and efficient for many users, batteries can provide additional benefits such as backup power and enhanced self-sufficiency.

Ultimately, you must assess your needs before deciding whether to incorporate batteries into your grid-tie setup.

Contact us if you have any other questions.