Helpful Tips and Stuff We’ve Learned Living Off Grid
For us old-timers in the solar world, search mode on your inverter was a must have feature and was used to reduce power consumption. Nowadays it’s hardly ever used. So lets take a look at what search mode is and when to use it.
First off, only off grid inverters have this feature and its purpose is to reduce the power consumption of the inverter when it’s not under load. As we know all electrical equipment uses energy. With that said even an inverter that has no load on it, is using between 12 and 30 watts. On early off grid systems this continuous load would be a factor. Let’s say you have a small 1000-watt array and it’s installed in Rochester, NY. Your average sun hours are 3.3 for the year. That’s 3300-watt hours per day produced from your array. If your inverter is using 25 watts per hour just sitting there when all your loads are off, you’re still burning 600 watts per day. That’s 18% of your daily power production going to just powering the inverter. So the inverter folks came up with search mode. In essence search mode puts your inverter to sleep when it doesn’t see a load. With the same example this would drop the daily watts to 150. Big difference. In this search or standby mode the inverter is not producing output voltage and as such any small loads like an electric clock or refrigerator would not receive power. In smaller systems with propane refrigerators and no need for small electric full time loads, this works just fine. While in search mode the inverter sends out a pulse of current looking for a load. When it senses a load the inverter starts up and away you go. So as you can see if you have loads that need continuous power then search mode is really useless but for the smaller systems it does help with system efficiency.