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What is a Hybrid Inverter & how does it work?

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A hybrid inverter is a modern type of solar inverter technology that is gaining popularity in the solar energy industry. They combine the best features of both battery chargers & microinverters, allowing for more efficient energy conversion from solar to AC power. Learn more about the benefits of hybrid inverters and how they work in this article.

“A hybrid solar inverter is a device that converts Direct Current (DC) energy generated by solar panels into Alternating Current (AC) electricity that can be used in a home”

What is a Hybrid Inverter?

A hybrid solar inverter is an externally- or internally-mounted device that converts direct current (DC) electricity from your solar panels or other renewable sources into alternating current (AC) electricity.

It can also accept AC power from your utility, inverting it to DC for onsite battery storage. Hybrid inverters are easy to install, efficient, and cost-effective, making them a popular choice for anyone looking to go off the grid or have electricity in case of a grid outage.

How does a Hybrid Inverter work?

what is a hybrid inverter and how does it work?

Hybrid inverters use advanced control technologies to allow DC power from the battery or solar panels to be converted in both directions, allowing the AC and DC systems to independently generate energy. 

It then allows electricity to flow between the two circuits without any additional switching needed. As a result, hybrid inverters can provide more efficiency and stability than traditional AC and DC systems.

The difference between an Inverter and a Hybrid Inverter?

Solar Panels 2 edited 1
Hybrid inverters vs Normal Inverters

Inverters are commonly used in renewable energy systems, such as solar power systems, to convert the direct current (DC) power generated by solar panels into alternating current (AC) power, which can then be used to power homes and buildings.

A hybrid solar inverter, on the other hand, is a type of inverter that is designed to work with both renewable and traditional energy sources, such as the utility grid. A hybrid inverter is made up of an inverter, a charge controller, and a grid-tie function.

A traditional solar grid-tie inverter converts direct current (DC) electricity generated by your PV system into alternating current (AC) electricity that powers your home, allowing excess electricity generation to be transferred to the utility grid.

“PV System, short for Photovoltaic System also known as a solar system is an electric power system designed to supply usable solar power through photovoltaics, aka “your solar panels”

A battery inverter converts the DC electricity stored in your solar battery into AC electricity that can be used by your home.

A hybrid solar inverter streamlines and improves the operations of a traditional solar inverter by combining these functions into a single device. Even better, because the amount of solar power available can vary depending on weather and season, a hybrid inverter can draw power from the power grid to charge your battery storage system if necessary.

What are the functions of a Hybrid Solar Inverter?

An inverter’s primary function is to convert DC input from your solar panel into AC output that your home can use. The use of hybrid solar inverters elevates this process, providing the following advantages:

DC to AC Bidirectional Power Conversion

illustration of a bidirectional hybrid solar inverter.
Illustration of bidirectional hybrid solar inverter without solar panels / additional renewable energy source.

Bidirectional = functioning in two directions. Normally, solar batteries are charged by either direct current electricity from solar panels (DC coupled) or direct current electricity converted from alternating current (AC) by a solar inverter (AC coupled).

The stored DC electricity must then be converted back into AC electricity by an inverter before it can be released and used by your household appliances.

A hybrid inverter and battery can serve both functions. The hybrid grid-tie inverter can convert direct current (DC) electricity into alternating current (AC) electricity to power your home, but it can also take AC electricity from the grid and convert it to direct current (DC) electricity that can be stored in batteries for later use.

Power Regulation

Solar power can fluctuate as sunlight levels rise and fall depending on the time of day and weather patterns. A hybrid inverter regulates this power to ensure that the entire system operates within the parameters specified.

Monitoring of Power

Hybrid Inverters can be outfitted with solar power monitoring software that measures and monitors your photovoltaics system via the display screen or a connected smartphone app, assisting in the identification of any faults.

Maximisation of Power

Maximum Power Point Trackers (MPPT) in hybrid inverters monitor your solar power output and correlate it to the voltage of your battery. This allows for maximum power output and conversion of DC electricity to the best voltage for maximum battery charge. MPPT ensures that your solar power system operates efficiently under all conditions, including varying levels of solar light, solar panel temperature, and electrical loads.

Pros and Cons of a Hybrid Inverter System

A modern hybrid inverter has some advantages, but it also has some disadvantages that you should be aware of. Here are some of the hybrid inverter benefits and drawbacks to think about.

Pros of a Hybrid Inverter

  • Ongoing Power Supply = A hybrid solar energy system with storage batteries and an inverter can provide continuous power and backup power during unexpected power outages. Traditional grid-tied solar inverters cut off power during outages, but a hybrid system can operate both on and off the grid, providing solar power even when the grid is down.
  • Utilisation of Natural Resources = On bright sunny days, the sun’s rays are fully utilized because a battery system is linked to a hybrid system. In general, the system makes the best use of solar energy by storing it on sunny days and using it during cloudy or overcast days.
  • Coordinated Monitoring = When you have a hybrid solar inverter, all of the electricity you use for your home, whether it is sent to the grid or stored in the battery, is converted by a single component. The procedure enables centralized monitoring, which allows you to monitor both the solar panel system and battery performance on a single platform.

Cons of a Hybrid Inverters

  • Not Ideal for Upgrading an Existing System = If you want to add battery storage to your existing solar power system, a hybrid inverter may complicate matters, while a battery inverter may be more cost-effective.
  • Increased Equipment Cost = A hybrid inverter can be more expensive to install than a traditional solar power inverter. If your area has frequent power outages and you want to add battery backup in the future, a hybrid inverter may be worth the extra cost.
  • Future design flexibility is Reduced = Solar battery design evolves in tandem with technological advancements, and not all hybrid inverters are compatible with every type of battery. If you install a hybrid inverter now intending to later add a solar energy battery, your future options may be limited due to compatibility issues.

Is it worth investing in a Hybrid Inverter?

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Is it worth investing in a hybrid inverter?

While a hybrid inverter requires a larger initial investment, it may be worth it if you plan to include solar battery storage with your initial solar installation or shortly thereafter. 

For those looking to purchase hybrid inverter systems, the answer is a resounding yes! Not only do hybrid inverters provide efficient and reliable energy conversion, but they are also relatively inexpensive to install and maintain. 

Additionally, these systems can be used with a variety of energy sources such as solar power, wind power, and geothermal power. Investing in this technology can benefit both homeowners and businesses alike by significantly reducing energy costs while providing a more reliable source of renewable energy.

Conclusion to What is a Hybrid Inverter?

A hybrid solar inverter combines the functions of a solar inverter and a battery inverter in one unit. It manages energy flow between solar panels, batteries, and the grid, optimizing energy usage and enhancing self-sufficiency.

Even if the initial costs are higher, a hybrid inverter can save you money in the long run by providing you with a solar inverter that optimises the operation of your PV system. A hybrid inverter can help you reduce your reliance on the grid, reduce your carbon footprint, benefit from advanced monitoring tools, and boost your power generation.

If you are ready to take the next step and go off the grid you can browse our selection of hybrid inverters, battery storage solutions and high-quality solar panels.

Frequently Asked Questions about Hybrid Inverters

How much does a hybrid inverter cost?

The cost of a hybrid inverter depends on the brand and size of the inverter, you can expect to pay anything from R4,000 to R30,000+

Where can I buy a hybrid inverter?

Off Grid Power Solutions offers a range of high-quality hybrid inverters that you can choose from. Browse our selection of hybrid inverters.

Where can I get additional advice on hybrid inverters?

Feel free to contact us at admin@offgridpowersolutions.co.za or call us on 087 806 6872 for additional information.

What size hybrid inverter do I require?

This depends on your power requirements. We have written an article that tells you how to calculate your power needs. Best inverter for home use in South Africa

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