Grid-Tie Inverters (Synchronous Inverters)
Grid-tie inverters are used in solar energy systems that are integrated with the grid. Like all inverters, it converts DC power to AC, the kind you use to power everything from electric shavers to televisions.
A synchronous inverter takes the solar electricity collected by your solar panel array and applies it to the distribution panel in your home. The power may then be used by loads within your home or it may flow out to the utility grid. When there is no solar energy available (eg. at night, or during cloudy periods) the utility seamlessly provides power to supply the loads in your home. The inverter has to be matched with the wattage output of your solar panels.
Synchronous inverters are also designed to be used with net metering. This process (if available in your area) allows you to sell energy to your local energy supplier to alleviate your energy costs. Learn more about net metering.
Multi-function inverters (hybrid-power inverters)
Some experts consider these a separate type of inverter altogether. A multi-function inverter is additionally connected to a battery bank and a standby generator. The battery bank allows you to store power to rely even less on conventional grid power sources.
If there is no solar energy available, the multi-function inverter may draw your needed electricity from your solar batteries. If the battery bank is drained, the inverter will draw power from the conventional grid (utility lines).