What is Solar Inverter Clipping and When Can It Be a Positive Thing?

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Solar Inverter Clipping

Inverters or Solar Inventer Clipping are responsible for converting direct current from solar panels into alternating current that your home or office appliances can use to run. Owing to this feature, inverters are considered as the brain of the entire solar power system.

However, not all solar systems have the same needs. You need to set up your inverter based on the type of solar system you have. For instance, if you have an inverter that has a low input rating and receives more energy from the solar panels than its maximum input rating allows, it undergoes a phenomenon known as solar inverter clipping.

What is the Meaning of Solar Inverter Clipping?

Every inverter comes with a maximum input rating. If you have solar panels that produce more energy than the total amount your inverter can handle at a given time, the inverter “clips” or reduces the amount of electricity. 

It is worth noting that inverter clipping isn’t harmful to any of your solar system’s components as long as it is within a certain limit. However, solar inverter clipping has the impact of reducing the amount of electricity you have available. This means that your solar system is underutilized.  

Now, this seems like a negative thing that you need to deal with by upsizing your inverter capacity or decreasing the number of solar panels. After all, no one wants to lose the return on investment on their solar systems. But, as you will see quite soon, solar inverter clipping can turn out to be a net positive for your system. 

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Direct Current to Alternating Current Ratios

Your solar system’s DC to AC ratio will give you a good insight into whether the inverter will undergo clipping and ultimately prove that the solar inverter with battery price wasn’t worth it.

In the ratio, the DC represents the amount of DC your solar panels produce at any given point in time. This number increases with the number of solar panels and the amount of sunlight they receive. Meanwhile, the AC component of the ratio refers to the AC power rating of the inverter. This value can be found on the specification sheet of the equipment. 

If the DC portion of the ratio is higher, you are more likely to experience clipping. This means that if you have more solar panels and an inverter that can’t handle what they produce, you will lose some of the electricity you generate. Also, having excessive DC input power can void your inverter’s warranty. 

It is worth mentioning that a solar system with a large inverter is less likely to clip but can be needlessly costly. However, too much on the AC side can cause problems too; the AC components may come under excessive stress and wear out quickly.

Notably, new inverter models have the ability to self-limit. This is done by cutting down the DC power input without stressing the components. Also, if you can ensure that your system has the right balance of AC and DC, you do not have to worry; routine clipping won’t affect your equipment in any significant way. 

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How to Leverage Solar Clipping to Optimize your Investment in Solar Systems?

Inverter clipping always means you are losing out on some of the free electricity that your solar panels produce. However, remember that designing your system optimally can allow you to make use of clipping (as long as it is a small amount) to boost the return on investment.

To do this, you need to understand that the solar energy your PV system produces is always fluctuating. For instance, the system produces maximum energy when there is peak sunlight during a summer month and the least energy when there is limited sunlight during a winter or monsoon month. 

Since your solar panel only reaches peak energy production on rare occasions, spending lakhs of rupees on inverters that can handle the occasional peak can be a massive waste of money. Therefore, making the most out of your investment would entail the use of your solar system in a way that has the inverter operating near its maximum input rating as much as possible throughout the year. 

Conclusion

Inverters of every type and efficiency, especially the commonly used string inverters and microinverters, are prone to clipping. It is up to the owner of the PV system to design it in a way that ensures the clipping doesn’t damage any components or cause too much energy loss while helping to run the solar system at a high return on investment. 

If you are unsure of how to go about doing that, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our expert team.

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