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Is there a commercial AC inverter that will use grid power if the DC input is too low (not grid-tie)?

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Question by Eric_C: Is there a commercial AC inverter that will use grid power if the DC input is too low (not grid-tie)?
The application I am interested in is utilizing a solar array to supplement an on-grid house without the high-cost of a grid tie inverter. The device I have in mind is something that would take both AC input from the grid and DC input from a solar panel, but would not use them both at once, so it would not need expensive sine-wave matching or anti-islanding electronics. I have had no luck searching online, but I might be looking for the wrong thing.

For example: If you had a refrigerator that averages 500 watts, and a 700 solar watt array, the device would power the refrigerator for 4 or 5 hours during the day and switch back over to grid power at night. It would not have to be any more electrically complicated than a 1000 watt UPS. The inverter would power the fridge when it is on and store extra power in the battery when the fridge is off. Once the output from the solar panels drops and the battery voltage drops, the device would switch to grid power. I believe this device would be cheaper because a 1000 watt UPS (with a bigger battery than would be required for this application) costs about $ 500, while a grid-tie inverter from a reputable company costs well over $ 1,000 + installation by an electrician.

Thank you

Best answer:

Answer by Ed
Maybe it sounds too simple, but it seems you want a solar array and inverter to supply 120 VAC at or above the load demand and charge a battery. Then when there is little or no solar power to the inverter, the battery would take over. When the battery could no longer supply the load, you would switch over to grid power.

Why would you not want just a voltage sensing relay on the battery, aromatically transferring the load from the inverter to the grid?

It would be tricky to find a way to keep the load attached to the grid, even after the array begins producing again. This would involve ignoring upcoming array out until the array could support the load.

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