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What Is a Hybrid Solar System and How Does It Work?

Written by Madelein Kroukamp

A hybrid solar system is not to be confused with a system that combines two sources to generate your required energy needs, like solar and wind, for example. A hybrid solar system is similar to a grid-tied system, but with an important add-on. Batteries are added to the classic grid-tied system to store extra power for later use or for when the grid is down during loadshedding.

Components involved

  • Charge controller
  • Battery bank
  • Hybrid inverter
  • Solar panels
  • Power meter

But what stops your extra generated power from being fed back into the grid? You will need a hybrid inverter that is designed to store the extra energy produced by your solar panels into your battery system. They designed these types of systems so that you use power generated from your solar panels first, then from your batteries, and lastly from the grid. Being tied to the grid will ensure that you will draw power from it in the event of a shortfall in your solar panel array and battery capacity. It also protects your system from being damaged in the case of a sudden power surge. 

Even though there are batteries involved, this type of system doesn’t cost nearly as much as an off-grid system. This is because your batteries only need to supply you with electricity for a limited amount of time before you can recharge them. Your batteries are essentially a back-up system. Lithium battery technology is the best option for your battery array as they last longer(up to 10 years) than traditional lead-acid or AGM batteries and have a larger capacity. It is possible to add batteries to your grid-tied system, but it is advisable to consult with a professional solar installer to ensure you make the right choices and is tailored to your specific needs.

What you need to know

It is a more complex installation than with a grid-tied system, meaning it will cost more and use up more space. The more expensive cost of the system will add to your return on investment as it will take longer to pay it off. Depending on the capacity of your system, you may only be able to use a limited amount of appliances when on battery power. Your technician can advise on this issue. 

A hybrid system automatically and immediately switches on when there is a power failure, making it easy to use. There are no switches to flip or wirings that need to be adjusted. You can also choose to charge your batteries via solar power or through Eskom. Using a hybrid solar system as a back-up is much more efficient than using a fuel-based generator.

A hybrid system will cost you more than a grid-tied one, but loadshedding won’t affect you as it would with a grid-tied system. You will have an uninterrupted power supply, giving you energy security. This type of system will enable advanced energy management and energy independence. You can use your saved solar energy in the evenings when it is peak times and electricity costs more, and of course, charge your batteries when it is off-peak hours.

Thank you for reading this article. If you feel we have left out any important information or would like to contribute to this site and content, please get in touch with us by leaving a comment or emailing us.

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