Hybrid solar inverters are a new piece of solar technology that combines the benefits of a traditional solar inverter with the flexibility of a battery inverter into a single device.
A common question is “what is a hybrid solar inverter?” In residential solar applications, a hybrid inverter combines the work of a grid-tied inverter and a battery inverter. Through self-consumption, the hybrid inverter maximizes energy independence while enhancing energy resilience by offering backup power in the event of a grid outage.
You can learn everything you need to know about hybrid inverters from this guide, including what a hybrid solar inverter does, its benefits and drawbacks, how it differs from other types of inverters, and more.
Table of Contents
- What is a Hybrid Solar Inverter?
- Types of Hybrid Solar Inverters
- Pros of a Hybrid Solar Inverter
- Cons of a Hybrid Solar Inverter
- Hybrid Inverter Operating Modes
- Battery Backup
- How Does a Hybrid Inverter Compare to Other Types of Inverters?
- Should You Invest in a Hybrid Solar Inverter?
- Key Takeaways
What is a Hybrid Solar Inverter?
In order to intelligently manage power from your solar panels, solar batteries, and the utility grid simultaneously, a hybrid solar inverter combines a solar inverter and a battery inverter into a single piece of equipment.
A conventional solar grid-tie inverter transforms the direct current (DC) electricity your photovoltaic (PV) system produces into the alternating current (AC) electricity that powers your home. This also enables the export of extra electricity generated to the utility grid.
Your solar battery storage system’s DC electricity is converted into AC electricity that can be used in your home by a battery inverter.
The operations of the conventional solar inverter are streamlined and enhanced by a solar hybrid grid-tie inverter, which unifies these functions into a single device. Even better, a hybrid inverter can use power from the power grid to charge your battery storage system if necessary because the amount of solar power that is available can vary depending on the weather and seasonality.
Types of Hybrid Solar Inverters
Four different types are listed below”
1. Basic Hybrid Inverters
Basic hybrid solar battery inverters function like a grid-feed inverter. It does, nonetheless, permit the option of self-use storage in a battery system. A basic hybrid inverter’s main drawback is that it lacks a grid isolation device, which means it cannot power your home in the event of a blackout. Therefore, if your grid supply is reliable, a basic hybrid inverter is a great option.
2. Multi-mode Hybrid Inverter With Battery Backup
A multi-mode hybrid inverter is an advanced solution that provides power backup when needed, either as an integrated or separate unit. These inverters have the ability to power your home, recharge batteries, and contribute extra power to the grid. The device will switch to battery power in the event of a grid failure and continue to function without the grid.
3. All-In-One Hybrid Energy Storage System
Modern hybrid inverters frequently come as a complete unit with a battery system. Battery Energy Storage System (BESS) is the term used to describe such a system. You can install it in your house if you already have a solar system. There are many different sizes and features for these hybrid systems.
4. AC-Coupled Hybrid and Off-Grid Systems
Most hybrid systems typically consist of different inverters that cooperate to form an AC-coupled system. An interactive or multi-mode battery inverter and a standard solar inverter are typically included in such systems. The multi-mode inverter completes the energy management system by serving as a battery inverter and, with the aid of software, also optimizes energy use.
Pros of a Hybrid Solar Inverter
The three main advantages of hybrid solar inverters are listed below.
Constant Power Supply
An uninterrupted power supply is provided by a hybrid solar power system with the help of storage batteries linked to the inverter. The batteries act as an inverter and backup during an electrical blackout.
Read More: How Long Do Solar Batteries Last?
Optimal Utilisation of the Renewable Resource
The abundant solar radiation on sunny days is utilized to the fullest extent by a battery system linked to a hybrid system. By storing energy on sunny days and using it when it’s cloudy, such a system makes the best use of solar radiation.
A hybrid solar inverter is a low-maintenance system, especially compared to traditional sources of energy. A hybrid inverter doesn’t require routine maintenance because there isn’t any fuel involved.
Cons of a Hybrid Solar Inverter
Below are three disadvantages:
Not Ideal for Upgrading An Existing System
A battery inverter might be more cost-effective than a hybrid inverter if you want to upgrade your current solar power system to include battery storage. To expand your system, all you really require is an AC-coupled battery with a built-in battery inverter. Choosing to install a hybrid inverter necessitates a complete and pricey overhaul of your entire solar panel system because you already have a grid-tied solar inverter.
Increased Equipment Expenses
A hybrid inverter’s initial installation may cost more than one using only solar power. A hybrid inverter may be worth the added expense if your region is frequently affected by power outages and you want the flexibility of adding battery backup in the future.
A regular grid-tied system, which is likely to be less expensive than a hybrid inverter and battery storage, might be adequate, though, if your power grid is dependable and you have access to net metering.
Less Future Design Flexibility
With technological advancements, solar battery designs change, and not all hybrid inverters are compatible with all battery types. Your future options might be constrained by compatibility issues if you install a hybrid inverter now with the intention of possibly adding a solar energy battery later. For instance, some solar panel energy storage systems now include built-in inverters, doing away entirely with the requirement for a separate hybrid inverter.
Hybrid Inverter Operating Modes
Most hybrid inverters can be programmed to function in four different modes:
- Grid-tie mode – Functions like a normal solar inverter (no battery)
- Hybrid mode – increases self-sufficiency by capturing excess solar energy during the day and storing it for use at night.
- Backup mode – Functions like a normal solar inverter when the grid is connected and automatically switches to backup power mode during a grid outage
- Off-grid mode* – utilizes excess solar to charge the battery and power the loads without a grid connection, operating similarly to an off-grid inverter.
In order for a hybrid inverter to serve as a backup power source, it must be able to disconnect from the grid during a blackout and use battery power to support any household essential circuits**. Most contemporary hybrid inverters already have the “grid isolation” feature built in, but some hybrid inverters do not, making them inoperable in backup or off-grid modes. To enable this feature, though, a second backup box or EPS (emergency power supply) is frequently available. This straightforward hybrid inverter would be a wise budget option if grid stability was not a concern.
If the loads are manageable and there is enough sunlight throughout the year, more sophisticated hybrid inverters can operate in backup mode indefinitely or even completely off-grid. However, dedicated off-grid inverters and high capacity batteries are recommended for off-grid solar systems due to the high continuous and surge power rating required to run a whole house completely off-grid.
How Does a Hybrid Inverter Compare to Other Types of Inverters?
A grid-tied hybrid inverter enables a seamless integration of your home’s solar energy system and the power grid. You can use any excess electricity from your solar array to charge your solar battery system once it has produced enough energy for your home, and then you can send the remaining energy to the grid once your battery storage has been fully charged.
The hybrid inverter’s capacity for bi-directional power transfer sets it apart from other central inverters that are available for your home. A solar grid-tie inverter controls the connection between the house, the home’s solar power system, and the electrical grid. As we discussed earlier, a battery inverter converts between AC and DC power for storage. (Solar inverters come in three main varieties: string inverter, micro-inverter, and power optimizer. Visit our Solar Inverter Guide to find out more about the advantages and disadvantages of each inverter choice.)
All of this is accomplished by the hybrid inverter, which also has the ability to use grid-supplied AC power to recharge your solar batteries when the energy generated by your solar panels is insufficient or is already being used to run your house.
Should You Invest in a Hybrid Solar Inverter?
A hybrid solar inverter will cost more up front, but if you intend to add solar battery storage to your initial installation of solar panels or soon after, it may be worth the extra money.
When compared to other kinds of solar inverters, a hybrid inverter performs remarkably well because it helps to solve problems like patchy sunlight and unstable utility grids. Even better, a hybrid inverter enables you to more efficiently store energy for use in the future, including backup power for use in power outages or busy times.
With the help of net metering and time of use rates, hybrid inverters also make it possible for more effective power to be generated and managed, which benefits both you and the larger electrical grid. Additionally, thanks to cutting-edge technology, you can easily manage and monitor your solar power system from any location using connected smartphone apps.
What is Difference Between Solar Inverter and Hybrid Inverter?
It takes a separate inverter to convert AC to DC and back in a solar panel setup with a traditional inverter. However, a solar panel system with a hybrid inverter does not require a separate battery inverter. Oddly enough, hybrid inverters can also be installed without batteries.
Are Hybrid Inverters Any Good?
If you want to keep your property running on backup solar power during a grid outage, hybrid inverters paired with batteries are a great solution. Some hybrid inverters can operate both on and off the grid, enabling you to keep using solar power even if the grid goes down.
What Are the Disadvantages of Hybrid Inverter?
A basic hybrid inverter’s main drawback is that it lacks a grid isolation device, which means it can’t power your home in the event of a blackout. Therefore, if your grid supply is steady, a basic hybrid inverter might be a great option.
How Does a Hybrid Inverter Work?
A hybrid inverter is a machine that converts DC generated by a solar panel into AC for household appliances. Similar to a grid-tied, a hybrid solar inverter stores extra solar power in a usable storage system. The load is then powered when necessary using the batteries’ stored AC power.
Two benefits over an AC coupled storage system come with the use of a hybrid inverter for homeowners. First, homeowners can choose to use a hybrid inverter initially and add batteries to the system at a later time if they are unsure whether they want storage at the time of installation. The solar array can be centrally monitored thanks to hybrid inverters.
Given that the homeowner already has a grid-tied inverter installed, AC coupling is still the best method for retrofitting existing solar arrays with storage.
If you’re ready to learn more about inverter technology, read our post on why do solar cells need an inverter.