Last Updated: November 12th, 2020 at 11:11 am
Read Time: 4 Minutes
Once POWERHOME SOLAR installs solar panels for you, a sizeable Generac box called an inverter will be installed on the side of your home. The inverter converts the DC energy that your solar panels produce into the AC energy that your home can use. Think of the inverter as the quarterback of your solar system. It tracks the production of your panels and directs the energy where it needs to go. On the face of the Generac PWRCell inverter is a digital panel with numbers and graphics that may make little sense to you. Good news is, we’re sharing what all those numbers and graphics mean, so you know exactly what you’re seeing.
How to read a Generac inverter
Top Left: Solar Panel Icon
The top left of the display features a “solar panel” icon, and the number 2.76 kW beside is how much energy your panels are producing in kilowatts. The higher this number is, the better. The optimal scenario is when the amount of energy produced by your panels exceeds the amount of energy being consumed by your home. That means your panels are overproducing your home’s needs.
Top Right: House Icon
The top right side of the display features a “house” icon. That 2.50 kW beside it indicates how much electricity your home is using right now. That includes your lights, electronics, air conditioning or heating — anything that sucks power in your home. Notice that the solar production slightly exceeds the amount the home is using. That’s a good thing! That excess will be stored in this customer’s battery, which we will discuss further.
Middle: Fan Icon
In the middle of the display screen is a “fan” icon with numbers on each side. The “fan” icon is actually the logo for Pika Energy, which was acquired by Generac in 2019. Chances are that logo might not be there when you get your inverter.
Beyond that logo lesson, the 431 Vdc number on the left represents the amount of direct current voltage produced by your panels. If we were to compare electricity to water running through a pipe, voltage is the amount of water pressure inside the pipe. How quickly the electricity flows through the pipe depends on the amount of wattage produced by your panels. Your inverter takes this DC electricity and converts it to AC.
The 244 Vac number is the amount of alternating current (AC) voltage on your main electricity line. That number is always around 240, because that’s the standard service voltage that your home needs to power all your items. When your inverter converts the DC electricity into AC, it matches that voltage when pushing excess power back to the grid.
Lower Left: Battery Icon
If you have a Generac battery system, the “battery” symbol on the inverter shows how much your battery has charged. This battery system is fully charged, which is shown by the battery being fully darkened. If the battery is 50 percent full, that icon will show as half full. It acts just like the gas gauge on your car. With the battery being at full capacity and this inverter set up in Self Supply mode (meaning no excess energy can be fed back to the grid), that excess energy has nowhere to go. So your system adjusts the levels accordingly.
Having a battery is extremely beneficial as it allows for excess solar energy to be stored that can be drawn upon in case of power outages. Batteries are especially helpful as utility companies become more creative in how they charge customers for grid energy. To read more about the modes a Generac battery has, click here.
Lower Right: Power Pole Icon
This icon represents the utility company and how much energy is being drawn from the grid. It is in essence at zero, since your solar panels are producing all the energy that this home needs at this time.
POWERHOME SOLAR master electrician Bryan Law further explains in detail the capabilities of our Generac inverter.
Learn more about POWERHOME SOLAR’s offerings
You now know what your inverter’s capabilities are and what each symbol means on the easy to read display screen, so what’s next? If you currently own solar, enjoy the benefits of your solar panels and let the sunshine in! If you are currently considering solar, give us a call at 1-800-POWER-90 or request a free quote and learn about all of POWERHOME SOLAR’s offerings so that we can help you with the perfect solar system for your home.