After the mention of a solar system, most people assume some of its components. One of these components is the solar inverters, which is unfortunate given their significance in the working of the entire system.
The main focus often goes to solar panels. While paying attention to the panels is good, the rest also need it.
You need to get it right regarding installing every component, which means getting all the important questions right. For instance, are solar inverters waterproof?
Since the answer determines how and where you install the solar inverter, let’s focus on it in this discussion? Read on to learn as much as possible about this crucial solar system component.
So, Can Solar Inverters Get Wet?
Interestingly, the answer to this differs from one solar inverter to another. That’s why you should be keen when choosing one and ensure that you own the manufacturer’s installation recommendations.
There are two major categories regarding waterproof solar inverters and those that aren’t. They are the grid-tied inverters and off-grid inverters, and here is a discussion of each group.
Grid-tied Solar Inverters
These grid-tied inverters are also known as string inverters. Their manufacturers design them to be installed outdoors, meaning the inverters need to be waterproof.
How do manufacturers make these solar inverters waterproof and ideal for outdoor installation? The inverters usually have enclosures, which can be NEMA 3R or NEMA 4X.
The NEMA 3R enclosure protects the solar inverters from snow, rain and dirt. On the other hand, the NEMA 4X counterpart protects solar inverters from corrosion, jet water and windblown dust.
You should never overlook the NEMA rating when choosing a solar inverter. You should factor in the weather around your area as you decide.
Nevertheless, you can still install these indoor inverters if you deem fit.
Off-Grid Solar Inverters
On the other hand, off-grid solar inverters are designed to be installed indoors. Failure to adhere to this requirement will lead to damage since these inverters lack what it takes to withstand harsh weather conditions.
One way to identify these inverters is lacking an IP65 waterproof rating. Therefore, you can only install it indoors.
Regarding these solar inverters, ensure that you install them near the meter. After all, a voltage drop may arise between the two.
Consequently, the inverter’s efficiency drops drastically. Under such circumstances, the solar system’s overall performance leaves much to be desired.
One can’t insist enough on installing these solar inverters outdoors. Otherwise, it will get wet since it isn’t waterproof, thus leading to damage and loss.
How to Protect Solar Inverters from Rain
Sometimes, installing your solar inverter outside may not be an option. That’s despite being off-grid since you could live in a small house or apartment.
Under such circumstances, the most appropriate thing is to find ways of protecting your solar from rain. Some of the things you can consider include the following;
Using a Waterproof Structure
If you want to mount your off-grid solar inverter outdoors, consider using a waterproof structure like a box. However, you should ensure that this structure also has ventilation.
If you have no idea about what to look for, here are some great ideas;
Battery box inverter combo
Since these boxes are made of batteries and inverters, they will protect yours. Besides ventilation, it also has spaces to hook up various appliances and charge the battery and solar connectors.
The neatness of this box which serves many purposes, makes it worth considering. Whereas a battery may be relatively heavy, the box makes the inverter portable whenever needed.
Waterproof Electrical Enclosure
It is no secret that electronics are prone to damage upon exposure to water, including rain. That’s why waterproof electrical enclosures are quite common, especially in commercial areas.
Since the enclosure’s design purposely protects electronics against water damage, rest assured that it will do your solar inverter the justice it deserves. Besides protection, it also promotes vital cooling thanks to its vents.
Don’t assume that the vents will let the water reach your inverter. After all, they have hoods that slant downwards hence won’t allow even a drop of water to fall inside.
You can also customize yours to fit your needs. The various sizes and shapes cater for different needs and preferences.
Using a Waterproof Container During Transport
Protecting your solar inverter doesn’t apply only when installing it. Even how you transport it matters hence the need to ensure that it doesn’t get wet during this vital process.
Using a water container ensures that your inverter doesn’t get any water damage throughout the journey, even if it rains heavily. Besides, the container will also protect it from knocks and bumps.
Placing Your Solar Inverter in the Vehicle
This protective measure applies when the solar inverter is for your car, RV or semi-truck. Instead of placing it on the vehicle’s roof, place it inside to avoid water damage.
Nevertheless, placing solar panels and other components on the vehicle’s roof is okay. You must ensure the solar inverter and the battery stay inside.
Mounting the Solar Inverters Indoors
Unless it is completely impossible to install your off-grid solar inverter indoors, do everything possible to ensure that you do it outdoors. After all, that was the manufacturer’s intention, given its design and materials.
It is the safest way of protecting the inverter from rain. You don’t have to mount it in the house; other indoor solutions include a shed, cupboard or garage.
What Happens When a Solar Inverter Gets Wet?
You are most likely wondering why you should go through all the trouble of protecting your solar inverter from water. You also don’t think that a waterproof solar inverter isn’t the most appropriate option when choosing one.
However, the truth is that you can’t afford to let it get wet as long as it isn’t waterproof. Otherwise, you will face a huge problem when the inverter gets wet.
Water leads to a short circuit when it reaches the inverter. Consequently, there would be damage and loss.
Wouldn’t it be unfortunate, especially given that the trouble was avoidable? It explains the importance of considering buying a waterproof solar inverter.
Alternatively, apply any protective measures to protect the solar inverters that aren’t waterproof. You owe yourself at least that to ensure it doesn’t get wet.