Hybrid solar systems generate power in the same way as a common grid-tie solar system but use special hybrid inverters and batteries to store energy for later use. This ability to store energy enables most hybrid systems to also operate as a backup power supply during a blackout, similar to a UPS system.
Traditionally the term hybrid referred to two generation sources such as wind and solar but more recently the term 'hybrid solar' refers to a combination of solar and energy storage which is connected to the electricity grid.
A battery ready system uses a hybrid inverter rather than a typical string solar inverter. Most modern hybrid inverters have the battery charger and connection built in which makes adding a battery much easier in the future.
Do you need a hybrid inverter to add batteries? No, a battery can be added to any existing grid-tie solar system at any time using an AC coupled ‘AC battery system’. As inverter technology and batteries are evolving rapidly it is usually only worth while spending extra money on a ‘battery ready system’ if you plan on adding a battery within 2 years. Since the battery technology is advancing quickly if you wait too long to add batteries the system may become obsolete.
A battery ready system is a system with a battery ready ‘hybrid’ inverter but is generally only cost-effective if you plan on adding batteries within the next year or two.
To learn more about selecting a hybrid solar or off-grid power system see our complete guide to hybrid solar battery systems here
This is a more technical guide to the various hybrid solar systems and inverters on the market. The systems available may vary depending on the local solar distributors and electricity network operators in your country. Refer to our complete hybrid and battery storage review for a direct comparison of the various hybrid inverters and battery storage systems.
The most economical hybrid solar system uses an all-in-one hybrid inverter which contains a solar inverter and battery inverter/charger together with clever controls which determine the most efficient use of your available energy.
An all-in-one hybrid system is basically a hybrid inverter together with a lithium battery in one complete package, usually about the size of a fridge. However like most appliances there are many features and capabilities which differentiate the wide variety of hybrid systems available.
This is the most basic kind of hybrid solar inverter and works much like a grid feed solar inverter but also enables storage of solar energy in battery system for self-use. The main disadvantage of this type of Inverter is that is does not contain a grid isolation device which means it cannot supply power when there is a blackout (commonly known as an uninterruptible power supply or UPS function). Although if grid stability is not an issue then this simple hybrid inverter would be an good economical choice.
This more advanced all-in-one hybrid inverter can often be used as both an on-grid or off-grid inverter as it has back-up capability built-in. Under normal operation it can supply power to the home (designated power circuits), charge the batteries and excess power can be fed into the grid. If there is a blackout or the grid becomes unstable the unit will automatically switch over to battery supply and continue to operate independently from the electricity grid (in usually less than half a second).
A more recent trend is to package the all-in-one hybrid inverter together with a battery system in one complete unit. This offers a very neat and cost effect option which is usually about the size of a medium fridge. These systems are very neat and easy to install but can have some limitations as some models cannot be expanded at a later date.
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