Smart inverters are an emerging technology that can help integrate solar energy and other distributed energy resources (DERs) into the electric grid.

Like traditional inverters, smart inverters convert the direct current output of solar panels into the alternating current that can be used by consumers in their homes and businesses. Smart inverters go beyond this basic function to provide grid support functions, such as voltage regulation, frequency support, and ride-through capabilities.

As the number of DERs on the grid increases, the need for additional inverter functionality has grown. Additionally, existing codes and technical standards (e.g., IEEE 1547 and UL 1741) are being updated to ensure that smart inverter capabilities can be fully realized. To unlock the latest inverter functionality, some states are working to incorporate updated codes and standards through months-long processes that are often technical and complex.

Photo courtesy SolarEdge

IREC’s Smart Inverter Work

IREC is actively involved in state proceedings that tackle the issue of how to integrate and harmonize updated smart inverter standards into their rules (e.g., IEEE 1547-2018). We monitor state-by-state developments and coordinate with a number of partners to ensure a smooth transition to utilizing these new technologies and capabilities. We promote the integration of smart inverters and their valuable functionality, which can increase DER hosting capacity, improve grid reliability, and promote consistency across states and markets.

In November 2022, IREC published its Decision Options Matrix for IEEE 1547-2018 Adoption, a checklist that can help regulators, utility staff, and other DER stakeholders navigate the key decisions they need to make in order to align interconnection rules with IEEE 1547-2018.

In April 2023, IREC published its IEEE 1547™-2018 Adoption Tracker, a resource for Public Utilities Commissions, utility personnel, and other DER stakeholders interested in reviewing the standard’s adoption status across states and regional transmission organizations in the U.S. and Canada.

Learn more on our Clean Energy Technical Standards page or in some of our recent blog posts:

  • California Marks Important Milestone for Balancing Grid Needs, Consumer Protection in Key Smart Inverter Function, March 2021 – “Volt-watt” is one advanced inverter function with important grid support benefits. However, in some cases, it could negatively impact individual customers because it reduces solar power production when activated. We explore an important policy milestone related to the volt-watt function in California, the first state to require the use of this function for all distributed solar customers. 
  • Smart Inverter Update: New IEEE 1547 Standards and State Implementation Efforts, July 2018 – IEEE 1547 is a national standard for interconnection of distributed energy resources (DERs), which was updated in 2018 to require distributed energy resources to provide specific grid supportive functionalities (typically accomplished via smart inverter functions). We provide an update and overview on the state of the IEEE 1547 standards.
  • How IEEE 1547.1-2020 Paves the Way for More Energy Storage & a Smarter Grid, August 2020 – IEEE 1547.1-2020 established test procedures for certifying smart inverters to IEEE 1547-2018 standard, which requires grid support functions for smart inverters. We explore the significance of this development and why it sets the stage for more states and utilities to adopt these modernized interconnection requirements that will enable greater DER deployment in the long term.

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