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Going off grid? Xantrex introduces hybrid solar power inverter

Inverters are the behind-the-scene hardware to solar electric panels. A refreshed product line from Xantrex combines a renewable power source with battery back-up.

Inverter maker Xantrex on Monday announced an overhaul to its inverters that let people combine a renewable energy source with some back-up power.

Going off grid with solar--and batteries. Xantrex

Inverters convert direct current generated by solar panels or a wind turbine to household alternating current. When the power goes out, the Xantrex inverter draws on batteries to meet the household's load.

The Trace Series Inverter/Charger replaces its existing DR line that the company has sold since the 1990s which is most used in countries that don't have reliable power supply.

The updated Trace Series is more user friendly to operate and is more efficient in converting electricity to battery power and back, said Lloyd Gomm, director of marketing and product management for Xantrex.

The Xantrex Trace Series Inverter/Charger is designed to charge batteries from solar panels or wind turbine when there is a power failure. Xantrex

Many people assume that purchasing solar panels for a home includes a stack of batteries to run when the power goes out. That's typically not the case for customers in the U.S. unless they are willing to pay extra for back-up power.

When a house's panels are generating more electricity than the house is consumer, a "grid-tied" inverter will feed power back to the grid and make the meter runs backwards, subtracting from a customer's monthly bill.

Xantrex participates in both the grid-tied and off-grid market but Gomm said that the off-grid market is still appealing even though it isn't growing as fast.

"It's a market that that a lot of people don't focus on it but from a business point of view, you get an opportunity to earn some good money," he said. "Those markets don't require government incentives because the solution to the problem you are addressing is 'you don't have power.'"