Hybrid photovoltaic systems incorporate the best features of grid-tied and off-grid solar systems, hence the name. Despite the fact they are connected to the utility grid, they have extra battery storage as a backup. Such systems require reliable solar equipment, such as a good hybrid solar inverter. How hybrid inverters work.
How hybrid inverters work
PV modules use the solar energy and turn it into direct electric current (DC). It can power lighting in your home and chargers for small devices, like a smartphone. But most home appliances function on alternating current (AC). This is where an inverter comes into play: it turns direct current into alternating. The efficiency of an inverter is close to 100%, which means that almost no electricity loss occurs while it's working.
A hybrid inverter functions as both an inverter for electricity from solar modules and a battery. Some homeowners install a hybrid inverter even if they don’t have batteries. If they decide to buy some in the future, they won’t need to buy an additional inverter for them.
Advantages of solar hybrid inverters
All in one. Many hybrid inverters incorporate performance monitoring, charge controlling, and bi-directional AC/DC inverter function. It will save you some money if you want to add some batteries to the existing solar system.
Efficient energy use. Hybrid inverters have a built-in charge controller. It charges the batteries when grid electricity costs the least, and makes your batteries work when grid electricity costs the most.
DC-coupled options. Some hybrid inverters are DC-coupled. They take the DC power from solar panels and feed it directly through to the battery without turning it to AC and back to DC. It prevents power conversion losses and, obviously, makes the overall system more efficient.
How to size a hybrid inverter
The size of a solar inverter is usually measured in Watts. When purchasing a hybrid power inverter, you have to make sure it suits the size of your solar panel system. For example, if your solar panel array has a combined power of 5kW then a 5,000 W inverter should be just right for it. Consult with the solar hybrid inverter manufacturer when in doubt and read the guidelines. Keep in mind, that if your inverter is not sized properly for your system, in case of malfunctioning you might not be able to get compensation through the warranty.
How to choose the best hybrid inverter
There is a range of hybrid inverters suitable for different budgets and energy needs. When looking for one, consider the following things:
- Efficiency. This is how much power the inverter delivers from the batteries or panels to your home under the perfect conditions. A good efficiency rating is from 94% to 96%.
- Self-consumption. It shows how much power the inverter will consume when idle.
- Temperature range. Inverters are sensitive to weather extremes. If possible, it is best to place an inverter in a garage or in another sheltered location, where it's safe from rain, snow and direct sunlight.
- Warranty. Normally, inverters come with up to a 10 year warranty.