As more and more homes and businesses embrace the wonders of renewable energy, many of us are wanting in - but have no idea where to begin. With so many different options available, it can be a challenge to get started with the right equipment for your situation. But one such option available is solar power.
For those investing in a solar system for their home or workplace, hooking yourself up with a hybrid inverter will transform your solar set-up by ensuring all solar components (panels, battery, etc) work in seamless conjunction with each other, as opposed to acting as separate entities.
For those unsure what a hybrid inverter is - let’s take a look.
What is a Hybrid Inverter?
Hybrid inverters are electronic gadgets that unite the functions of solar inverters and solar batteries to allow the whole set-up to function as one singular unit; the purpose being to enable the system to operate more smoothly, as well as allowing the panels to off-load any excess energy generated into the battery, which can be particularly useful in the summer months when panels receive more PV (photovoltaic) rays.
A hybrid inverter can be used in both grid-tied and off-grid set-ups, as well as in small-scale independent systems, or large-scale power grids. So, irrespective of your individual scenario, a hybrid inverter can be an extremely useful piece of kit for your solar system.
But to fully understand these devices, it’s important to be knowledgeable about solar power systems as a whole.
Solar power is generated when sun rays hit solar panels and are converted into direct current (DC) electricity, which, of course, is a pretty non-negotiable part of the set-up. However, it’s not enough to provide your property with energy akin to that you would receive from grid power.
This is why all solar systems come with an inverter (but not necessarily a hybrid inverter). Your inverter has the pivotal job of transitioning your DC energy into AC (alternating current) energy, which gives you the juice you need to power your lighting and other appliances.
So, you may be wondering what the point of a hybrid inverter is if your solar system can and will function on a regular inverter. Well, a HI provides added flexibility because it allows you to regulate AC energy (for example, if you’re still on the grid and receiving electricity through that) to have more leverage over how you’re using your power, because you can interchange your energy usage from the grid or from your solar panels as your main energy source (hence the name ‘hybrid’), as well as storing energy generated during peak sun times to then use at peak electricity times, when it’s most expensive to use grid power.
So while HIs aren’t mandatory to your solar set-up, they provide you with extra autonomy, which can then increase the money you save using your solar system. Many commercial-use solar systems rely on hybrid inverters, but they can be a useful attribute to domestic set-ups too.
It is also noteworthy that small solar configurations, such as for an individual item that relies on solar power (like a solar watch) - or anything that can run entirely on solar power - do not rely on inverters.
For larger set-ups, you will need an inverter, and you will find that most systems come with a generic inverter. However, if you wish to use a hybrid inverter, you will likely have to purchase this separately.
Why Hybrid Inverters Are Superior To Standard Inverters
So we’ve explained that HIs provide more freedom and flexibility with your solar power system, but to further differentiate between the hybrid and the standard inverter would be the former’s ability to better control the storage of your solar energy.
Many UK-based solar power users find that they generate an excess of energy throughout the day (particularly in the summer months), and while this can be sold back to the grid, you can also store it to use later instead (such as during expensive peak energy times in the evening), meaning you’re saving potentially hundreds of pounds a year on not using grid power during the most costly part of the day.
Going back to the topic of selling energy back to the grid - this is also an option for solar panel users with a HI, which can come in particularly useful when your solar battery is already fully charged, because any excess energy generated runs the risk of wearing out the battery.
Your HI will let you sell this excess energy back to your utility company in exchange for energy credit off of your next electricity bill. Again, this is extremely beneficial for saving money on your electricity - as well as preserving the life of your battery. In terms of how much money you will save, this depends on your supplier, as some have a higher buy-back rate than others.
How Hybrid Inverters Work
So, we have discerned that these gadgets are extremely nifty bits of kit - but how do they work?
Well, we’ve already established that they convert DC energy into AC energy, and they do this by interchanging the DC current on and off at an extremely quick pace, flowing the energy back and forth, which turns it into an AC current (because AC electricity works via this quick on-and-off process, whereas a DC current just flows in one direction), meaning the standard voltage in your home is now at an AC rate and is strong enough to power all of your devices.
This process is called pulse width modulation (PWM) and it acts as an energy regulator by controlling how much solar energy is sent back to the grid. Without bamboozling you too much with the technical side, all of this current interchanging is taking place in nano-seconds and is providing seamless energy to your home or business.
To go back to the battery energy storage factor for a second, because weather varies (especially here in the UK), storing energy is an important aspect in saving money via your solar system.
During the summer months, some users may find it isn’t possible to use all of the DC energy the panels have generated, meaning it needs to be stored or sold back to the grid. If you’re not opting for the latter, you will be storing the energy in your battery.
BLUETTI solar generators kits provide a one-stop solution that can use solar panels to store solar energy in batteries for emergency use; and provide different capacities to meet your various needs, whether it is for camping or family emergency use electricity.
An inverter (hybrid or otherwise) also helps in battery regulation because it acts as a funnel of all DC energy received. As with every other type of battery in the world, if it’s overcharged (especially on a regular basis) it will have a much shorter lifespan.
Your inverter allows you to switch to battery power during certain times, in certain weather conditions, or if there’s a power outage. It also means that if you’re not getting enough energy from your solar panels (for example, during an overcast day), your system will automatically switch over to grid power to prevent loss of power to your property, and to keep your battery charged.
Benefits of Hybrid Inverters
To sum up the purpose of the HI would be that it combines three benefits into one little device: it consistently unites solar power generation, battery storage, and back-up energy into one location to ensure a reliable, well-preserved, money-saving solar system.
Other HI key benefits include:
- They are extremely efficient, particularly in comparison to the traditional inverter, and are compatible with almost all battery storage systems.
- They are self-sufficient. Meaning they operate independently and do not require aid from the homeowner to make the switch between currents.
- They ensure you have back-up power in the event of an outage, which is especially useful for business-owners.
- They allow you to monitor the energy-use and keep track of it, as well as monitoring exactly how much solar energy is being generated.
They enable buy-back schemes to be simple and problem-free. The HI will automatically sell back excess energy to the grid.
Hybrid Inverter: FAQs
Does a hybrid inverter need a charge controller?
No, you do not need a charge controller if you have a hybrid inverter because the HI does the job of the controller.
Can a hybrid inverter work without a battery?
It can indeed, depending on the type of system you opt for and if you are still attached to the grid. Not all solar systems are battery-relient, unless they are off-grid.
How does a hybrid inverter work?
Your HI will convert the DC energy generated by your panels (which isn’t strong enough to power electrical appliances within a property) into AC energy (which is).
What does a hybrid inverter do?
Your HI will combine the solar inverter you already have with the battery’s inverter to enable it to function as a unit. This then tracks, modulates, and redirects energy generated by the solar panels to ensure it is being used to its best advantage and that you aren’t wasting excess energy (or money that could otherwise be saved!).