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Author Topic: inverters  (Read 6092 times)


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« on: April 28, 2010, 09:01:44 PM »
Inverter and Related Terms

Absorption Charge - The second stage of three-stage battery charging. Voltage remains constant and current tapers as internal battery resistance increases during charging. (Ensures complete charging.)

Alternating Current (AC) - The type of electrical power supplied by utilities or made when a generator is run. The unique characteristic of this form of electricity is that it reverses direction at regular intervals. For example, 120 Vac 60 Hz. power reverses flow 60 times a second, hence the rating 60 Hz. (cycles).

Amp - A measurement of the flow of electrical current. One amp is equal to the electric force of one volt acting across the resistance of one ohm.

Amp Hour - One amp of electrical current flowing for one hour. Expresses the relationship between current (amps) and time. (OHMS law I =V/R)

Array - A group of solar electric modules wired together.

Bulk Charge - The first stage of three-stage battery charging. Current is sent to batteries at the maximum rate they will accept while voltage rises to full charge level.

Current - The rate of flow of electrical charge. The flow of amps is often expressed as current.

Direct Current (DC) - The type of electricity stored in batteries and generated by solar electric devices. Current flows in a single direction.

Electrolyte - A conductive medium in which the flow of electricity takes place; this is the liquid found inside storage batteries.

Float Charge - The third stage of three-stage battery charging. After batteries reach full charge, charging voltage is reduced to a lower level to reduce gassing (boiling of electrolyte) and prolong battery life. This is often referred to as a maintenance charge, since rather than charging a battery, it keeps an already-charged battery from self-discharging.

Grid - When used in reference to utility power, it refers to a system of electrical transmission and distribution lines.

Grid Open - The inverter (Trace SW) can tell when there is no current being delivered to the grid and it will disconnect. This is used when a disconnected switch is opened or the power line which feeds the installation is cut. This protective system may require up to one second to respond.

Grid Shorted - Normally, when the utility power fails, the Trace SW inverter momentarily tries to power the entire neighborhood. This condition looks like a short circuit to the inverter and causes it to reach the over-current protection setting and shuts off. It then opens it internal relay and disconnects from the utility grid. This protective system operates instantly (under four milliseconds).

Ground Fault Protection (GFP) - A circuit protection device that prevents the flow of electrical current to earth if a short circuit is present. Usually required in wet locations-e.g. for outdoor, kitchen and bathroom circuits.

Hertz (Hz.) - The frequency, or number of times per second, that the flow of AC electricity reverses itself. Also referred to as cycles (see alternating current).

High Battery Protection - A control circuit that disconnects charge current flowing to a battery when voltage reaches a dangerously high threshold. Prevents damage created by excess gassing (or boiling) of electrolyte.

Hydrometer - A simple device that measures the specific gravity of battery electrolyte. Specific gravity readings express state of charge/discharge of battery.

Idle Current - The amount of electrical power required to keep an inverter ready to produce electricity on demand.

Islanding - This occurs when the grid has failed and the "neighborhood" that the Trace SW inverter is powering requires the same amount of power that the inverter can supply. This balanced condition is often called "islanding". The islanding detection circuit checks the grid condition on each cycle. The inverter watches the utility grid and waits for it to rise a couple of volts before it begins to invert again. This is done on each cycle when SELL mode is activated. Typically, disconnection is achieved in a few cycles after the utility has failed. If a large electric motor is connected, it may provide enough generator capacity that the inverter thinks the grid is still connected. This can fool this protective system. Two additional protective systems are provided to then handle this condition over/under frequency and over/under voltage detection.

Kilowatt (kW) - One thousand watts of electricity. Ten 100-watt light bulbs use one Kilowatt of electrical power.

Kilowatt hour (kWh) - One kW of electrical power used for one hour. The most common measurement of electrical consumption, most grid connected electrical meters measure kWh for billing purposes.

Light Emitting Diode (LED) - A device used to display various status functions.

Line Loss - A voltage drop caused by resistance in wire during transmission of electrical power over distance.

Line-tie - An electrical system that is connected to a utility distribution grid. For example, Trace SW line-tie inverters are designed to connect to and interact with utility power.

Load - Any device that consumes electricity in order to operate. Appliances, tools, and lights are examples of electrical loads.

Low Battery Protection - A control circuit that stops the flow of electricity from batteries to loads when battery voltage drops to dangerously low levels.

Maximum Power Point Tracking (MPPT) - Every PV (solar electric) device has a point where maximum current is delivered. MPPT electronically adjusts the output PV-device output to the maximum power point.

Modified Sine Wave - An AC wave form (generated by many inverters) that is a pulse width modified square wave. It consists of a number of very small on/off steps rather than a fully smooth wave.

National Electric Code - A consistent set of electrical wiring and installation standards used in the United States.

Off Grid - An electrical system that is not connected to a utility distribution grid.

Oscilloscope - A device that displays the wave form created by an electrical generating device such as a generator, inverter, or utility.

Overload/Over-current Protection - A control circuit designed to protect an inverter or similar device from loads exceeding its output capacity. (A fuse, for example, is an over-current protection device.) All Trace inverters have internal circuitry to protect themselves from overload/over-current conditions.

Over/Under Frequency - Since the Trace SW inverter locked onto the frequency of the "Islanded" utility grid, the frequency of the system will drift out of regulation in a short amount of time during an islanding condition. This protective system may require up to one second to respond. The inverter will shut off and disconnect after the frequency exceeds +/- 1 hertz of the nominal frequency.

Over/Under Voltage - Since the Trace SW inverter does not regulate the voltage of the utility grid while selling power into it, the AC voltage will drift out of regulation in a short amount of time during an islanding condition. This protective system may require up to one second to respond. The inverter will shut off and disconnect after the voltage exceeds +/- 10% of the nominal AC voltage.

Parallel Wiring - A group of electrical devices, such as batteries or PV modules, wired together to increase ampacity, while voltage remains constant. (Two 100 amp hour 12 Vdc batteries wired in parallel will form a 200 amp-hour 12 Vdc battery bank.)

Photovoltaic System - The components that form a solar electric generating system, usually consisting of PV modules, charge controller, circuit protectors (fuses or breakers) and batteries.

Series Wiring - A group of electrical devices, such as batteries or PV modules, wired together to increase voltage, while ampacity remains constant. (Two 100 amp hour 12 Vdc batteries wired in series form a 100 amp hour 24 Vdc battery bank.)

Sine Wave - The output wave form of an electric generator or utility. A smooth wave going above and below zero is created. This wave form is also produced by sine wave inverters such as the Trace SW and CO-Sine series.

Surge Capacity - The amount of current an inverter can deliver for short periods of time. Most electric motors draw up to three times their rated current when starting. An inverter will "surge" to meet these motor-starting requirements. Most Trace inverters have surge capacities at least three times their continuous ratings.

Transfer Switch - A switch designed to transfer electricity being supplied to loads (appliances etc.) from one source of power to another. (A transfer switch may be used to designate whether power to a distribution panel will come from a generator or inverter.)

Volts - A unit of measure of the pressure in an electrical circuit. Volts are a measure of electric potential. Voltage is often explained using a liquid analogy-comparing water pressure to voltage: a high pressure hose would be considered high voltage, while a slow-moving stream could be compared to low voltage.

Watt(s) - A quantitative measurement of electrical power. Watts are calculated by multiplying volts times amps. Using a liquid analogy, watts are similar to liquid flow such as liters or gallons. (watts = volts x amps)

Watt Hour (wHr) - Electrical power measured in terms of time. One watt hour of electricity is equal to one watt of power being consumed for one hour. (A one-watt light operated for one hour would consume one watt hour of electricity.)


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