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University of Maryland 2005 Solar Decatholon
Solar Panel


The electricity that is generated by the PV panels is known as direct current (DC)electricity. This type of electricity is constant over time, and does not change value. Direct current is used in our cars, as well as by many portable electronic devices. However, homes use alternating current (AC) electricity. This type of electricty varies with time as a sine wave. See the below figure for an ilustration of these two types of electricity.

So how do we change our DC to AC so we can use it in our home? We use an inverter. The inverter takes in DC electricity and makes it into AC electricity, with 98% efficiency. Like a charge controller, an inverter is mostly circuitry with no moving parts, so it is also maintenance-free.

The 2005 Maryland home will feature 4 OutBack Power FX3648 Sinewave Inverters. Each inverter takes in 48 volts DC, outputs 120 volts AC at 30 amps continuously, and can handle 3600 watts continuously. This particular inverter can also be grid-tied to use normal grid electricity as well as solar electricity from a PV system. It can also backfeed grid electricity to charge batteries in a grid-tied system where batteries are used.

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For more information about OutBack Power Systems products, please visit their website.

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