What is a Hybrid Inverter?

By Matthew Joseph Nandirio •  Updated: 10/09/22 •  7 min read

When you install a solar power system it can be either on-grid or off-grid if you have good sunlight throughout the daytime for the whole year. But it is not like that. 

On rainy days, cloudy days, and during winter the sunlight is quite low and at night there will be no sunlight at all. So, during this time, you will need another energy option and a hybrid solar energy system is a good solution. 

Figure 1: Hybrid Solar Inverter

What is a Hybrid Inverter

A hybrid solar inverter also referred to as a multimode inverter, an intelligent inverter combines a solar inverter and a battery inverter into a single piece of equipment. So, this can effectively handle power from your solar panels, solar batteries, and the utility grid simultaneously. 

A battery inverter does the inverting of DC electricity stored in the solar battery to C electricity so that use it in your home.

Interestingly, hybrid inverters can also be installed without batteries.

It is connected to the electrical grid instead of using a battery. As a result, this inverter draws power from both the grid and solar panels.

Since they combine all the essential elements for solar and battery storage in a single basic plug-and-play inverter, hybrid inverters are typically far less expensive and easier to install than more complex battery storage systems, which require numerous inverters.

What Makes It Different from a Conventional Inverter

The conventional inverter converts DC electricity to AC electricity with the use of appropriate transformers, switching and control circuits.

Hybrid inverters can convert energy to both AC and DC alternately rather than just converting DC to AC.

This creates new opportunities for solar energy storage because hybrid inverters allow you to store solar energy in a battery bank rather than having to use it all at once.

Figure 2; Conventional Solar Inverter

When your solar panel system produces enough energy for your home, you may use any extra power to charge your solar battery system. Once your battery storage is fully charged, you can connect the remaining energy to the grid.

The function of a Hybrid Inverter

Just like a usual inverter, the hybrid inverter also converts DC input from your solar panel to AC output, so you can use it at home. But that is not the only thing. It also has some other duties other than that:

Bi – Direction power conversion

Usually, a hybrid grid-tie inverter gets charged directly from the solar panel and converts that into AC output. But it also can get AC power from the grid and turn it into DC power, so that it can be stored in batteries.

The more electricity you use to charge your batteries, the more it costs you in electricity bills.

Power Regulating

Depending on the time of day and the prevailing weather, solar power might change as the amount of sunshine fluctuate. A hybrid inverter regulates this power to ensure that the entire system runs within the necessary constraints.

Monitoring

With a hybrid inverter, all of your solar energy is transformed through a single part, whether it is being used on your property, fed into the grid, or stored in batteries. This enables “centralized monitoring,” whereby you may track the operation of your battery and solar panel systems from a single platform

Hybrid Solar Inverters operating mode

A hybrid solar inverter can be programmed to operate in 4 modes.

  1. Grid-tie mode – Connected to the network and able to sell energy or extra energy. (Works like a standard solar inverter)
  2. Off-grid mode – Without a grid connection, uses extra solar to charge the battery and power the loads.

Since not all hybrid inverters are designed to be utilized in off-grid settings, the inverter needs to be connected to a battery bank and have true off-grid capabilities.

  1. Hybrid mode – increases self-sufficiency by storing extra solar energy during the day to be used later when there is no sunlight.
  2. Backup mode – decreases the chance of blackouts by switching from on-grid to off-grid mode as soon as there is a power outage.

Pros of a Hybrid Inverter

Using an intelligent and modern device in your solar power generating system can give you some benefits such as,

Power Stability

For safety reasons, a typical solar grid-tie inverter will automatically cut off power to the solar panels during a blackout. But due to the off-grid capabilities of the hybrid solar inverter, you will always have power even in a blackout. 

Low Maintenance 

Comparing hybrid solar inverters to conventional energy sources, they are a low-maintenance technology.

Utilizes more renewable energy

The excess amount of sunlight is stored during the daytime and is later used at night time or on less sunny days. So, you do not need to depend on grid-supplied electricity.

Cons of a Hybrid Inverter

As well as the advantages according to your environment, the money you can spend on the solar power system and technical capabilities this might have some disadvantages too such as,

Equipment Cost

The initial cost for installation is higher than a typical solar power inverter. Adding a hybrid inverter with batteries will cost more. However, if you experience more power outages this cost will be worth it. 

Require more space

Since this will have some extra equipment, you certainly will need some more space to install a hybrid solar inverter.

Complicated controlling

The systems need some understanding because many energy sources are used. It can be challenging to regulate how various energy sources work together and interact with one another.

Hybrid Solar System Cost

The price of a hybrid solar system is higher than that of traditional on-grid and off-grid systems. However, purchasing a hybrid solar system lowers your electricity costs. However, prices vary based on factors including availability, manufacturers, and quality. Price differences will also exist across sellers, models, and installers. Therefore, there cannot be a single price line.

Final Thoughts

A hybrid inverter, a combination of advantages of a standard solar inverter and the adaptability of a battery inverter is an emerging option for you who want to install a solar power system that has potential for future upgrades, such as a battery storage system. A hybrid inverter can save you money over time by offering you a solar inverter that maximizes the performance of your PV system, despite having higher initial expenditures. With a hybrid inverter, you can improve your power generation, lessen your dependency on the grid, reduce your carbon footprint, and take advantage of sophisticated monitoring capabilities. 

References

Ochnev, P. G., & Shchemeleva, Y. B. (2020). Renewable energy: Hybrid inverter. Proceedings – 2020 International Conference on Industrial Engineering, Applications and Manufacturing, ICIEAM 2020. https://doi.org/10.1109/ICIEAM48468.2020.9111952

Project Development in the Solar Industry – Google Books. (n.d.). Retrieved August 30, 2022, from https://books.google.lk/books?id=AUkhXQuNOfYC&pg=PA137&dq=hybrid+inverter&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjF4OrDpO75AhUQjdgFHVKrAwQQ6AF6BAgFEAI#v=onepage&q=hybrid%20inverter&f=false

Solar, Hybrid, and off-grid Inverters explained – YouTube. (n.d.). Retrieved August 30, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZEdIP8H5KM

Solar plus battery storage: How hybrid systems work – YouTube. (n.d.). Retrieved August 30, 2022, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9vM2JwrIWOU

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Matthew Joseph Nandirio

Matthew Joseph Nandirio is the Founder of walkingsolar. After graduating from the University of Houston in 2002, matt started working as an electrical and electronic engineer for several multi-national solar energy companies. He has a wide range of experiences including solar system requirement analysis, planning, maintaining, debugging and even solar device development through research. He now shares his 20 years of expertise through his articles on the walkingsolar website. Further, he is also the author of two books on Solar Technology, “Solar Power for Villages” and “DIY Solar System for Dummies”.

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