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Inverters are essential if your home runs on solar power, because it converts DC (direct current) to AC (alternating current). Every now and then however you will come across problems like this one. You turn the inverter on but it refuses to work. What could be the reason for it? Let us go over the most common reasons why this can happen and how to fix it.
Pressing the reset button usually fixes most inverter problems. If that does not work, the battery may be low and needs to be recharged. Check the wire connections and make sure none of the devices you are loading is defective.
The Inverter Needs a Reset
If your home is running on solar power, there are two ways to reset an inverter: a hard and soft reset. Try a soft reset. If that does not work, a hard or complete reset must be done.
How to Soft Reset an Inverter
If you are looking for a good inverter, we recommend the Ampeak 2000 because it packs a lot of power and easy to set up.This one is easy and usually fixes most issues. This method is applicable to almost all inverters today.
- Press and hold the on/off button until the LED light starts blinking.
- Let go of the button and wait for the system to finish resetting.
- Some inverters might have a separate reset button. Press and hold that instead of the on/off button.
- Load a device on the inverter. If the device runs you fixed the problem. I it does not, you have to do a hard reset.
How to Hard Reset an Inverter
The following steps will reset your solar inverter system.
- Turn off the AC switch.
- Shut off the solar disconnect box. This is often found under the solar panel. You might hear a loud sound after shutting off, which is normal.
- Go to the electric service panel. Look for the circuit brake labeled PV and turn it off.
- Wait for 30 seconds to pass.
- After 30 seconds, reconnect the solar disconnect box.
- Activate the AC switch.
- Activate the inverter. Wait for a few minutes for the system to reboot. Depending on your solar system setup, this might take several minutes to complete.
If you encounter problems with your inverter, the reset is the first option. The soft reset is easy and will do the job most of the time. A hard reset is more involved but is also effective.
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Note that the instructions given here is a general guide. Your solar system might have a different approach depending on what components are installed.
If the inverter is on but unable to carry any load, the battery might be weak. Forcing an inverter to run with low battery power can be disastrous.
An inverter that is connected to a battery bank depends on the battery for power. If the capacity is too low, the inverter will not be able to run its load.
The solution is to charge the battery. If your system is on the grid, switch to AC power for now and let the battery get fully charged. How long this takes depends on the size of the battery bank. If you run a lot of devices on the inverter, this will take a while.
After the battery is charged, reconnect the load on the inverter. This time there should be no issues with the load.
The key to avoiding this problem is to use a high quality battery like the Ampere Time 200 which is suitable for solar inverter. It has a long lifespan and needs very little maintenance.
Tips on Buying an Inverter Battery
If your battery is always running low on power, you might need more capacity. The rule of thumb is the usable capacity of the battery must be greater than the watt load. You must have some reserve energy in case you need to run an emergency load.
So if you regularly load 3000 watts on your inverter, the battery must be capable of at least 3000 watts, preferably more. Battery capacity is measured in amp hours (ah), but you can get its watts equivalent diving the amps with its voltage.
An inverter is only as effective as its power source. If the battery is dead, the system will not run. Batteries can expire due to age, corrosion, damage, wear and tear etc.
Before you buy a new one, do some checking to make sure the battery is indeed dead or defective.
Look at the battery itself. If it is corroded and no longer charging, it is safe to say the battery needs to be replaced.
Check the charging cable. If the cable is loose, tighten it again and recharge the battery. If the cable is frayed or damaged, replace it with a new one. If the battery charges, then it is still usable.
The most obvious signs of a dead battery is the inverter will not start. In some instances the inverter will start but it will not be able to run any load. When this happens, it means the battery is not completely dead. It has some power let to turn on the inverter but not enough to run appliances.
A defective or dead battery has to be replaced. There are a lot of products to choose from, just be sure that the capacity is sufficient for the watts you want to run. Once you have the new battery, connect it to the inverter and it will start working again.
Loose cables can cause an inverter to stop running or start and stop. You might be mistaken for thinking that the inverter or battery is damaged when in fact the cables are just loose.
Solar systems can be a tangled mess of wires and cables. Make sure that each is connected to the right location. Depending on whether you want a series or parallel configuration, the battery wires connections have to be done right.
Often when an inverter is on but refuses to run, we assume there is something wrong with it. But you must discount the possibility that there is a problem with the device or appliance you are loading. This is covered in the next section.
Suppose you have a 5000 watt inverter setup. The power is on and the battery is fully charged. The wires are all connected properly.
You load a device on the inverter. However it refuses to run. It is possible that the inverter is the problem but it can also be due to the device itself. If you suspect there is a problem with the device, it is easy to check.
Unplug the device from the inverter. Connect another appliance to the inverter. If it loads, then the inverter is working fine and the problem is with the device itself. You can further verify this by plugging the device onto another outlet. If it refuses to run, then it is damaged.
If the appliance or device is broken, do not use it anymore. Forcing it to run on an inverter or any outlet can cause a fire.
This is another possible reason why your inverter is not loading any appliances. The battery has enough power to turn it on, but there is not enough capacity to run the load.
You should never attempt to run an inverter over its maximum capacity. In fact, some manufacturers suggest not to run the inverter at maximum capacity. Most users only load up to 95% of the capacity. Having enough power available in the event of a surge is ideal.
You can avoid this problem by being mindful of how much power your inverter is loading. This issue is easy to fix because inverters are very clear about how much power it can handle.
Inverter capacity is measured in running watts and surge watts. Running watts is the total you can load on the system at the same time. Surge watts is the wattage the system can load for a few seconds, which is usually twice that of the running watts. Some appliances like refrigerators have surge watts requirements.