AE 868
Commercial Solar Electric Systems



Lesson 4 Scenario

You are still attending the solar trade show. Now you are looking for solar inverters. The inverter manufacturer representative discusses the datasheets and series of inverters that best fit the PV modules you selected. 

You learn manufacturers make various types of inverters. What is the first question you ask to narrow down your choices of Inverters in terms of inverter types based on what was discussed in class? Are there different types that can be detrimental to your PV module selection?

You leave the trade show with more specification sheets from other inverter manufacturers. The next day you need to prepare a report to your director with more information to help him choose the best PV inverter for the company. As always, you need to come up with the right tools to evaluate the inverters.

Ignoring the cost of the inverter, is it the inverter's efficiency, dimensions, ambient conditions, technical features, warranty, or color that are considered when selecting an inverter?

Can any inverter be connected to the utility grid, or should it have some kind of tests and certifications? Are there specific grid requirements for the US?

In this lesson, we will discuss topics that lead to answers to all the questions in the scenario above. We will also introduce new tools that can be used to help PV designers make the optimum selection of the inverter. Whether you are a designer or a system owner, the knowledge presented in this lesson will help you understand the basics of the inverter.

Learning Outcomes

At the successful completion of this lesson, students should be able to:

  • Identify common types and functions of inverters, converters, and power management technologies and selection methods to align with PV systems.
  • Interpret inverter specification sheets and parameters to match PV and grid requirements.
  • Discuss features of inverters, including the Maximum Power Point Tracker, anti-islanding detection.
  • Describe factors influencing the lifetime of an inverter such as temperature and environment.
  • Identify an inverter’s voltage operating ranges and capacity factor and how to match them with PV module and string ranges.

What is due for Lesson 4?

Lesson 4 will take us one week to complete. Please refer to the Calendar in Canvas for specific time frames and due dates. Specific directions for the assignments below can be found within this lesson and/or in Canvas.

Complete the following Lesson Assignments:

  • Read through the Lesson Content
  • Complete the Required Reading Assignments:
    • Chapter 8, Photovoltaic Systems by James P. Dunlop (text)
  • Complete the Lesson 4 Activity
  • Complete Procurement Report (Parts A, B, C)
  • Take the Lesson 4 Quiz in Canvas


If you have lesson specific questions, please feel free to post to the Lesson 4 Questions discussion forum in Canvas. While you are there, feel free to post your own responses if you, too, are able to help a classmate with a question. If you have questions about the overall course or wish to share and discuss any "extra" course related commentary (interesting articles, etc.), please feel free to post to the General Questions and Discussion forum.