What is surge power of inverter?

Inverters come in size ratings all the way from 50 watts up to 50,000 watts, although units larger than 11,000 watts are very seldom used in household or other PV systems. The first thing you have to know about your inverter is what will be the maximum surge power, and for how long.

Surge: All inverters have a continuous rating power and a surge power. The surge power is usually specified at so many watts for so many seconds. This means that the inverter will handle an overload of that many watts for a short period of time. This surge capacity will vary considerably between inverters, and different types of inverters, and even within the same brand. It may range from as little as 20% to as much s 300%. Generally, a 3 to 15-second surge power is enough to cover 99% of all appliances - the motor in a pump may actually surge for only 1/2 second or so.

General Rules: The inverters with the lowest surge power are the high-speed electronic switching type (the most common). The highest surge power is the transformer based, low-frequency switchers. The low-frequency inverter which have the transformer, the surge power is 3 times of rated power when the inverter starts, and it is during about 3 to 15 seconds. While, the high-frequency inverter which is transformerless, the surge power is 2 times of rated power when the inverter starts, it is during about 3 to 15 seconds. This includes most Xantrex, Magnum, and Cosuper_Energy low-frequency inverter, Surge power on these can range up to 300% for short periods. While high-frequency switching allows a much smaller and lighter unit, due to the much smaller transformers used it also reduces the surge or peak capacity.


Pros and Cons: Although the high-frequency switching type doesn't have the surge capacity of the transformer based, they do have some definite advantages. They are much lighter, usually quite a bit smaller, and (especially in the lower power ranges) they are much cheaper. However, if you are going to run something like a submersible well pump, you will need either very high surge capacity or you will need to oversize the inverter above its typical usage, so that even at maximum surge the inverter will not exceed its surge rating.

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