Looking to find out how to connect a solar panel to an inverter?
Good news, you’re in the right place.
If you’re installing your solar system then the final piece of the puzzle is hooking up your power inverter. It’s the device that allows you to plug in your appliances and draw AC electricity.
The final stage in getting that sweet nectar which is free energy from the sun.
It’s actually a pretty simple process to connect your inverter and solar panel. We will go through the step-by-step method below so you can do it yourself. If you’re not sure then it might be wise to consult a professional too.
Before we start there’s a few bits you’ll need for success:
- Solar panel (duh…)
- Power inverter (duh…)
- Solar charge controller
- Deep cycle battery
- AWG cables
How to Connect Solar Panel to Normal Inverter
It is important to understand the different components of your system to quickly establish where to connect your inverter. When using a normal power inverter for off-grid solar systems you will require a charge controller and battery between your solar panel and inverter.
Before connecting your inverter you should connect your solar charge controller to the battery and then the solar panel. I will go through this later if you aren’t sure how to do this either.
You will then connect your inverter to your battery by doing the following:
- Identify the positive (red) and negative (black) battery terminal.
- Ensure you’re red and black AWG cables are securely connected to your inverter
- Using crocodile clips or O-ring connect the black cable to the black battery terminal (negative to negative) and the red cable to the red battery terminal (positive to positive). Ensure there is a clean contact between the conductive metal ends of the cables connection and the battery terminal.
- Make sure you’re battery is charged and switch on the power inverter. Check that all systems are running correctly – usually via a green LED or LCD screen.
- You can now plug in your appliances to your inverter and start powering them!
You can also wire up your inverter through the solar charge controller too, this is a similar process although you will be more limited in what you can power. To run higher loads it’s best to connect directly to the battery. Here’s a handy explained video:
Wiring up a Solar Panel and Charge Controller for Inverters
As I mentioned earlier, before connecting your inverter you need to prepare and wire up the rest of your off-grid solar system. This is quite easy to do yourself.
Connecting the charge controller
The first thing you need to do is connect your charge controller to your battery. This is easily done in a similar fashion to the inverter steps above. You’ll need to connect the positive (red) and negative (black) cables to the red and black battery terminals respectively – that means positive to positive (red to red) and negative to negative (black to black). Always do this before connecting the solar panel.
Connecting the solar panel
Next, you need to connect the solar panel to the battery solar charge controller. Once again you can easily do this by connecting the positive and negative wires to the corresponding inputs on the charge controller.
They should be marked clearly on the charge controller.
Here is a video to help you through this process:
Can I Connect a Solar Panel Directly to an Inverter?
Yes, you can connect a solar panel directly to an inverter.
While this is possible it is not the best way to power an inverter with a solar panel. This is because you will be severely limited by what you can run directly for the solar panel.
You will be at the mercy of the sun and weather conditions, plus you won’t be able to store energy for use at a later time. The voltage and wattage output will be variable and unstable for your appliances. Adding to this, you won’t be able to power very many electronics without a stable power source from a battery.
If you do want to connect your solar panel directly to your inverter then you simply need to connect the red positive cables together and the black negative cables together. This should send electricity to your inverter. While it’s possible, it’s not the best way to do run most appliances.
Final Words on Connecting a Solar Panel to Inverter
As you can see, connecting a normal inverter to a solar panel is not very complicated.
The information and step-by-step process above should give you an idea of how to get this done.
What we’ve discussed today is the best setup for an off-grid solar system that you might use in an RV, boat, or van.
If you are planning to use a grid-tie solar system at home then the process is slightly different. Rather than a normal power inverter, you will require a grid-tie inverter that connects directly to your solar charge controller. This is because there is no battery used in a grid-tie solar system which ‘ties’ into your main electricity grid.
I hope you start enjoying the amazing benefits of solar panels soon, and thanks for reading.
Hi, I’m Michael, the editor here at Watt A Lot.
After years of experience with off-grid power like solar panels, inverters, and batteries I decided I should share my hands-on knowledge with you. In my professional and personal life, I’ve needed to find electrical solutions for remote situations from owning a food truck, to running events at the top of mountains, to my converted campervan. So whether you’re looking for the best products or fixing an electrical problem, you can rest assured my advice comes from real hands-on experience.