A hybrid solar power system combines three different sources of energy, covering all the basics and putting you in complete control. But if you haven't heard about a hybrid solar power system before, don't stress about it. At SolarAdvice we love keeping clients informed and up to date, hence the reason for this article. By the end, you'll know exactly what this particular system is, how it works, and what the pros and cons come with it.
What Is A Hybrid Solar Power System?
Essentially, the hybrid solar power system works like the grid-tied system. You have your panels harvesting energy on the one side, and you've got Eskom on the other. However, with a grid-tied system, there isn't a battery bank involved. Instead, energy gets used on demand with the latter. But it's not just a battery bank that makes the difference. A hybrid solar power system will usually have another source of electricity, other than Eskom. This means you are looking at three different sources of energy. Solar, grid, and whichever one you see fit for your situation. In the diagram below, wind energy is the third source, but in South Africa a generator is much more common.
The Pros of a Hybrid System
- Decreasing the odds of getting stuck without electricity
It's safe to say that you'll be having an incredibly bad day if your electricity fails at home. With three sources of energy supply at your disposal, you can choose a primary one or balance them out. The point is, you will always have lights in the dark.
- Energy gets stored for later use
Thanks to the battery bank, you will be able to store solar energy you don't use during the day. And when evening comes, you hook up to the stored power and go on like usual. A hybrid solar power system gives you so many options with very little limitations, making it a very lucrative investment.
- Can be converted into complete off-grid
Hybrid solar power systems are simply the off-grid systems, however, they use the grid to supplement the remainder of the power that is not otherwise being provided from the system as a backup. Should you want to get off the grid completely, would just need to ensure that the production and storage on the system is suffice to switch the grid off completely
- The initial investment will be more
With a battery bank and an additional source of electricity independent from the grid, your initial investment will be more expensive compared to a grid-tied system. Investing in a good quality battery bank such as lithium-ion, you will be sure to get that ROI you are looking for.
- A slightly more complex system
A hybrid solar power system is slightly more complex than a grid-tied system, given the battery storage and extra energy source of electricity. Unlike the grid-tied system, the wiring of the AC distribution board is more complex due to the fact that all the energy runs through the inverter, for which it would need to cope with the load that it is supporting.
A Final Thought
If you are intending on eventually getting off the grid completely, this is the system for you. These systems can be built up over time by simply increasing the solar array and battery bank till you are able to supply enough to turn the grid off. Important to note, the inverter should be considered mostly in the initial stage of your step towards off-grid. You will eventually need more peak power to run your entire electricity load, however, the beauty of most hybrid inverters is that the can run in parallel (together) so simply just add another at a later stage.