The hybrid solar power system is a combination of grid-tied and off-grid solar power systems. This system is described also as off-grid solar with utility backup power, or grid-tied solar with battery storage. The hybrid solar power system comes with a special hybrid inverter (sometimes referred to as a multi-mode inverter) that can transmit direct current (DC) power to and from your batteries and provides alternating current (AC) power between the grid and your home when necessary. The hybrid inverter can simultaneously manage inputs from both solar panels and battery storage, charging batteries with either solar electricity or electricity from the grid.
The hybrid inverter takes advantage of changes in the utility electricity rates throughout the day. You can temporarily store whatever excess electricity your solar panels produce in batteries, and put it on the utility grid when you are paid the most for every kWh. And you can rely upon your battery stored solar electricity while electricity is expensive and switch to the grid when it is cheap.
The ability to store and use your solar energy when desired is known as self-use or self-consumption.
In case you have already installed a grid-tied solar panel system you also have a traditional inverter (solar inverter) which converts DC into AC. If you would like to have a hybrid solar power system you should buy battery storage and a separate battery-specific inverter.
An option is to buy a hybrid inverter for your grid-tied solar panel system if you are planning soon to add battery storage. Thus you won’t need to purchase a separate battery-based inverter. The hybrid inverter can function as both an inverter for electricity from your solar panels and a solar battery. It combines a solar inverter and battery-specific inverter, so it can charge and discharge battery storage. On the other hand, there are some modern energy storage systems, like the Tesla Powerwall 2, which comes with an inverter already built-in, eliminating the need for a hybrid inverter.
The hybrid solar panel system is configured in such a way that your home uses solar power first, then stored power in the battery, and then grid power. With a solar hybrid system, you are less reliant on the grid and solar battery storage is used as a back up when solar power is not available. When the stored energy is depleted, the grid is there as a backup, allowing consumers to have the best of grid-tied and off-grid solar systems. And the battery storage is discharged less frequently, which extends its life. It needs to be replaced less often and saves you the cost of purchasing a backup generator.
The hybrid solar power system is at least half the price of an off-grid system but they are more expensive than an on-grid system – typically double the price of the grid-connected solar power system. The hybrid solar power system is also more complicated for installation and takes more space.
In summary, the hybrid solar power system has the following advantages:
- gives you a continuous uninterrupted power supply
- stores solar electricity or low-cost electricity
- allows using solar power during the peak times of the electricity grid
- solar power is available during a blackout or grid outage
- reduces the power consumption from the grid
- you are not dependent on the weather conditions
- gives you more independence than on-grid solar power system