Frequently asked questions
1What is a Solar Hybrid power system?
A Solar Hybrid system is a Solar Power system that has the capability to produce energy and store it for use at a later period. It combines several elements (Solar, Batteries and the grid) to produce an energy system to power your home. Most hybrid systems will also have a device either built into the inverter or that is installed into the switchboard which monitors your energy usage and talks to your hybrid inverter so it knows when is the best time to charge or discharge the batteries.The system also has an intelligent management system that balances battery levels, household power usage and grid back up without any input from the home owner.
2So how does a Solar Hybrid System work
It works very similar to a grid tie solar system however with the addition of batteries it gives you more control over what you can do with your power. It works like this, as you make energy from the solar panels the new components, (inverter charger and batteries) allow you to either store the energy in the batteries, use the energy for your appliances in the home or feed the energy into the grid.
3What is energy storage?
When we say “store the energy” we mean that the energy produced from the solar panels is used to charge the batteries so that they are ready to be used whenever they are needed. We call it storage because the batteries if fully charged can be called upon at any time to power your home appliances. Thus we say we are storing the solar energy.
4What is an off-grid system?
An off-grid system is an energy system that is completely non-reliant on the electricity grid. It is often more complicated than a grid connected Solar Hybrid system as they use more components to compensate for the grid not being there. Because there is no grid, a backup energy supply (generally a generator) is needed so that you never run out of power. Also, it will generally require more batteries so you can store more energy.
5What is the difference between a Solar Hybrid System and an Off-grid system?
A Hybrid System will normally remain connected to the grid for additional energy supply, where an off-grid system is completely shut off from the grid. Another difference is the components needed for the off-grid system are more comprehensive and will generally cost more to set up because there is no reliance on the grid.
6What are the components of a Solar Hybrid system?
Solar Hybrid systems need the following: • Solar panels to draw the energy from the sun. • An inverter to convert the DC current to AC current for your home to utilise. • A battery bank to store power for later use. • A battery management system. This device autonomously manages your power system, delivering power required to your home, keeping the batteries with ample charge primarily with solar power and secondly with grid power at nonpeak times. This is a specific battery inverter/charger to use the energy from the batteries and recharge them. • A monitoring system. This works with the management system to coordinate supply and storage of power for your individual home needs.
7What can you do with a Solar Hybrid system?
The most important thing you can do with a hybrid system is take control of your power. With just a standard grid connected solar system, you can only produce the energy, use it (if you are at home) then the excess energy goes into the grid. With a Solar Hybrid System, you can produce, use and store it for another time. When the batteries are charged you can then feed the excess solar energy into the grid. It’s like having the best of both worlds where you can use the grid but choose not to when you want.
8Will my new Solar Hybrid system completely power my house?
Yes, this can be achieved if your system components have been sized correctly for this purpose. The Hybrid system gives you the most flexibility to manage your overall power demands. The installation includes an intelligent management system that balances battery levels, household power usage and grid backup without any input from the home owner.
9Can I turn my grid connect system into a Hybrid system in the future?
Yes, and this is something that Solar Hybrid Conversions specialises in. You can do this in the following ways. 1. Starting small and only having a solar system that is Hybrid ready With the benefit of planning, including potential system size and component selection, you can certainly install a typical grid connection system now and be ‘hybrid ready’ and convert that system into a hybrid at a later date. 2. If you have an existing solar system you can add the hybrid components to that system. Converting an existing grid connect system to a hybrid system will in all cases require either an additional Battery Management System or the replacement of your existing inverter with an all in one Hybrid Inverter. Whilst Hybrid inverters can be added to all systems they are best suited to systems 2kW or larger as you require enough solar to directly power your home during the day with the excess power then being stored in the batteries for use at night. 3. You can put a full hybrid system in all at once We can fully install all the elements of a solar hybrid system as a complete system so you can start reaping the benefit immediately.
10Will I have power during a black out?
Yes, your solar Hybrid system can be designed to operate in a blackout, and supply some or all of your loads if needed. Not all hybrid solar systems can achieve this however; we can help you choose the right system for your needs.
11Why a hybrid system?
Hybrid systems are the best of both worlds: You get the guaranteed (well, 99.9% of the time) electricity supply of the grid, with the ability to store your excess solar energy for use when the sun isn't shining. You can also switch over to your own battery reserves if the grid goes down. Grid connected solar hybrid systems are also much cheaper than an off-grid system and don't require diesel generator backup. They're still more expensive than a purely on-grid system, but the benefits of those batteries are persuading an increasing number of people to pay the premium.
12Do I still need to use the grid if I have a Solar Hybrid system?
Yes, particularly during prolonged periods of poor weather. A Hybrid solar system couples energy storage capability whilst still being connected to the grid as a backup, so power produced through the day can be used during the peak evening period. Whilst this enables people who are not at home through the day to benefit from solar power, it does not mean you will be completely independent of the grid.
13Is a Hybrid system worth the extra cost?
Considering the extra cost, the return on investment is very loosely estimated at 10 years or more subject to energy use patterns. So for a straight financial consideration then you will have to stay put for a long period to realise this return. Some of our customers in rural areas are seeking an uninterrupted power supply primarily for emergencies such as powering water pumps in a bushfire or areas that are prone to blackouts. Others just want to support renewable energy and reduce their reliance on coal fired power. It depends on each individual circumstance to be able to determine value.
14Can you explain the two types of inverters used in Hybrid systems?
There are two main types of Hybrid inverters. The first type of inverter is an AC coupled inverter/charger; this is an additional inverter/charger that is installed alongside your existing solar inverter to charge and discharge the batteries. An example of this type of setup is the Selectronic SP PRO and is available for single or 3 phase homes or businesses. The other option is to have an all in one Hybrid Inverter; this has just one inverter which is used for your solar panels and for battery charging.
15What are the different battery technology?
The two common types of batteries readily available are lead acid and lithium. Lead acid batteries are a proven technology that has been used in a range of industries for many years. They are typically a very safe battery that is available in a range of sizes and are very common in Solar Hybrid and Off-grid solar power systems. They offer large storage capacity for a reasonable price as lead acid batteries are also considered to be one of the cheaper forms of battery technology. However, lead acid batteries do need to be well looked after to ensure the maximum amount of cycles (longest life) is possible. The alternative is a newer technology which is Lithium Ion Phosphate (LiFePO4). This is considered to be the safest form of Lithium Iron battery. These batteries generally offer longer cycle life (longer battery life) than lead acid and are able to be quickly charged or discharged with minimal impact on the life of the battery. These batteries are also able to be discharged to near 0% state of charge without permanently damaging the battery, although generally manufacturers recommend only discharging to around 10% state of charge to get the longest life out of the batteries. These are the batteries that are being used in most of the new hybrid battery options coming to the market.
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Solar Hybrid Conversions
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