Frequently asked questions about solar power

How does solar equipment work?
Photovoltaic (PV) Solar panels turn day and sunlight into electricity. The absorption of light in the solar cells builds up electric voltage (volts), as solar cells do not store any electricity all energy gained is fed through a regulator to the battery and stored there.

How long do solar modules last?
Life expectancy is around 20 years depending on the type. All parts are designed for outside use, even seawater, hail and storms can’t damage our Solar panels.

Do solar panels need maintenance?
The only maintenance a solar panel requires is cleaning with a damp cloth from time to time, no other maintenance is needed. However, if lead acid batteries are used the acid levels need to be checked every six months and topped up if necessary.

How do I measure the size of equipment required?
Quite simply: to work out your average consumption per day: Find out the specified power of an appliance (watts) and multiply it by the daily running hours.

For example:

Appliance:

Specified

power

Running time

per day

Consumption

per day

Radio

5 watts

5 hrs

25 Wh/d

Light

10 watts

4 hrs

40 Wh/d

Colour TV

40 watts

3 hrs

120Wh/d

Total:

55 Watts

12 hrs

185Wh/d

Are blocking diodes fitted in the solar panels?
No, all Solara and Victron solar panels require regulators fitted in the system for complete protection.

Inverters

Can I use my inverter in parallel with the generator or shore power?
Definitely not! If you have a generator on board or a shore connection you must install a Masterswitch. The switch is available with various applications, but its main function is to switch automatically and safely between shore, generator and inverter power.

Can I run a computer on the inverter?
Yes, you can. All Victron pure sine wave inverters can easily and safely supply a computer. In fact the output voltage from an inverter is often better than that from the electricity grid. A Victron inverter, combined with a battery charger and a battery set, is often used as a back-up system on shore in places where the grid connection voltage is contaminated or unreliable.

Can I run a microwave on an inverter?
Yes. You can connect any model of microwave to your inverter, but keep in mind that an 800 watt microwave consumes 1200 to 1300 watt from the 230V system, so you must make sure you choose the correct size inverter.

How much battery capacity do I need with an inverter?
As a rule of thumb you can assume the minimum battery capacity for a 12V installation is about 20% of the inverter capacity. For a 24V installation this would be 10%. In other words the minimum battery capacity for a 1000W inverter is 200Ah at 12V or 100Ah at 24V.

Are there any appliances that cannot be run on an inverter?
In general you can connect almost any appliance to an inverter, with a few practical exceptions. While the inverter can easily supply a heavy load like an electric heater, the battery capacity is often too low to maintain the supply for any great length of time. The same applies to air conditioning units. As long as the battery capacity is high enough you can use a large inverter to run a washing machine, a large single cooking element or a small two-ring electric cooker.

How much power does an inverter consume?
If you connect a 850W coffee machine to an inverter, consumption will be 850W divided by the voltage of the electrical system (12V) = 70 Amperes. Add another 8% (100%-92% =8%) to this total for the inverter consumption. The total power consumption is then 70 Amperes + 6 Amperes = 76 Amperes. Of course a coffee machine is only in use for about 10 minutes so the actual Ampere consumption is relatively low (76 x 10 min = 13Ah).