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  Jun 18, 2021   

What is a Hybrid Solar Power System?

What is a Hybrid Solar Power System

Did you ever have a thought of “what if in the mere future with this ever-increasing energy demand a day comes where one-day electricity goes and never comes back!”

Well I know this sounds so scary!!

At many locations especially in summer, we often experience frequent power cuts and yes we know how irritating it is! But do you know why is this mostly in summer? Well, it’s because the power demand exponentially increases as compared to the production.

But we can avoid this, by shifting to renewable energy sources and the solar energy system proves to be the most reliable and durable option of all. 

Going for the grid solar power is a good choice until you realise grid failure can halt your connection. Then one might think of an off-grid solar energy system as a good option, but what if we have consecutive cloudy days and the battery gets exhausted?

Well, With the developing prominence and exploration of solar-based energy, a framework known as a hybrid solar power system with benefits of both on-grid and off-grid system has been developed. 

In this article, we have defined all about hybrid solar energy system, their components, pros and cons and also a comparative analysis to choose between grid, off-grid and hybrid systems.

What is a hybrid solar energy system?

The hybrid solar energy system is a combination of On-Grid and Off-Grid based solar energy systems. In simple terms, one can define it as a grid connected solar power system with a battery backup added.

It comes with the advantage of storing energy in the battery when the solar panel operates at its peak and retrieving the stored energy during peak evening hours when electricity rates are high or in case of any grid failure. Also, one can sell the surplus energy generated to the local grid-connection  and get paid for the same.

Components of the hybrid solar system:

via GIPHY

 A hybrid energy system combines the on-grid and off-grid components. The following components are used while installing the hybrid solar system at your home or a commercial location:

  1. Solar Panel: Solar panel forms the base of the solar energy system without this the powerful solar radiations cannot be extracted and used. The solar radiation in the form of photons falls on the solar panel and generates electricity in the form of DC energy.
  2. Direct Current Distribution Box(DCDB): DCDB is a combiner box, its primary function is to combine the multiple strings of solar panels into one. This box consists of protection components such as a miniature circuit breaker(MCB), fuse and surge protection device.
  3. Charge Controller: This component is assembled with the battery to control the amount of charge streaming into the battery. The major task of the controller is to regulate the flow of charges and prevent the battery from over or undercharging, thus increasing the lifespan of the battery.
  4. Hybrid Inverter:The inverter is an essential component of the solar energy system, it helps in converting the generated DC energy from the solar panel or battery into usable AC energy.
    The inverter offers monitoring of the energy spent, received, consumed or stored in the battery; it helps in monitoring the performance of the solar panel as well as the battery.
  5. Alternating Current Distribution Box (ACDB): The primary function of the ACDB is to protect the appliances from any fault that occurs in the hybrid inverter,it consists of protective appliances such as a miniature circuit breaker(MCB), fuse and surge protection device.
  6. Batteries: For off-grid and hybrid solar systems, batteries play an important role to store the surplus energy produced during the sunny day and is retrieved later during cloudy weather or night when the solar panel is not able to produce a sufficient amount of power. For renewable energy systems, rechargeable batteries such as lithium or lead-acid batteries are recommended.

Working of solar hybrid system:

When solar radiations in the form of photons are incident on the solar panel, direct current(DC) is generated using the photovoltaic principle. The DC energy generated depends on the solar radiation intensity. 

via GIPHY

  1. This generated DC energy is fed into the charge controller which helps in regulating the amount of power to be supplied to the battery.
  2. Depending on the power requirement by different appliances, the inverter draws energy from these batteries and converts it into a usable alternating current.
  3. This generated AC energy is supplied to different loads through the wiring system.
  4. When the battery is fully charged then the solar panel supplies the surplus generated DC power through the inverter and net meter to the utility grid-connected and gets paid for this surplus power. 
  5. The stored energy in the battery is retrieved during the non-sunny day or at night depending on the requirement.

Advantages:

  1. Reduced grid dependency
  2. Hybrid inverters come with backup power capacity thus providing uninterrupted power under any circumstances. It allows consumers to consume power from grid, battery or solar.
  3. It can be used as an off-grid solar energy system in case of power failure.
  4. Can retrieve stored energy during cloudy weather or peak evening time (when tariff rates are high) thus saving the electricity bills 

Disadvantages:

  1. Higher and complex installation cost
  2. Increase maintenance costs due to periodical replacement of batteries.
  3. Backup power build only for running critical loads, support is not provided to all the appliances.

What happens when a power outage occurs?

During daytime when the solar panel is in operation and suddenly if the grid failure occurs the solar power system won’t shut down. Instead, the system will isolate the grid supply and switch on to the battery system, it will retrieve the required power for all the appliances from the battery stored energy.

During the power outage, one must take care that the power consumed by all the appliances must be less than the inverter wattage.

Note: In a hybrid energy system when a solar panel is not capable of generating sufficient power during the cloudy day to cater power to all the loads, the system draws the power from the utility grid-connected and needs to pay only for that consumed electricity. In the event during sunny days when the solar panel produces more power than required by the load, the surplus power can be supplied to the utility grid and can get paid for the same.

Confused?  When to select the hybrid solar system?

      Hybrid solar energy system installation is worthy during the following condition at your location:

  1. Low Feed-in Tariff: Hybrid energy systems are worth installing at a location with low feed-in-tariff rates. 

During the daytime solar panels operate at maximum especially during noon, but during this duration use of the electricity at home is generally less, most of the surplus energy is exported to the grid at a certain cost per unit of electricity which is low. 

But, during the evening when the solar panel doesn’t generate sufficient electricity we import it from the grid but the cost tends to be higher than the cost received when exported. 

In this case, choosing a hybrid energy system is worth the investment. Instead of exporting the surplus electricity to the grid, one can store and later retrieve this energy when tariff rates are generally high and thus can reduce the electricity bills.

  1. Frequent power outage: In a place with frequent blackouts and a low feed-in-tariff rate installing the solar hybrid system is a good alternative, only one needs to take care of getting an adequate backup system to run the critical loads.

But if your location has no power outages and has a fair tariff policy one can go for solar grid installation as it will be cheaper with less maintenance.

Comparative Analysis: (On-grid V/S Off-Grid V/S Hybrid)

Comparative Analysis

FAQ

  1. What is net metering in a hybrid solar system?

    Net metering in a grid or hybrid solar system is a kind of solar incentive for reducing the electricity bill. 
    We get paid by the local utility company depending on the state and DISCOM policy for the excess amount of energy exported to the local grid connection,
  2. Which is a better alternative?  off-grid or hybrid solar system?

    Well, this depends on the location and the requirement of the user. 
    An off-grid system is a good option if you want to be completely independent of the grid, it proves to be a good alternative for remote locations where access to the grid is difficult or areas with frequent power cuts. But one needs to ensure that the battery has enough storage to store  power required to cater to all the loads. 
    A hybrid energy system proves to be a better alternative in case of cloudy weather when the solar panel is not able to generate enough power for days and the battery gets discharged. In this condition, the hybrid system can switch on to the grid system.
    Also if you are located in an area with good utility grid connection(rare power failure) then a hybrid solar power system is a more reliable option to ensure uninterrupted power supply using grid, battery and solar. 
  1. Can we add battery backup to the traditional grid system?

    Yes, a battery backup along with a suitable inverter can be added to the existing system, a number of batteries to be added depends on the individual requirements.
  1. Is a hybrid solar energy system worth the investment?

    To answer this question one needs to know about the installation location, power requirement and budget of the user.
    But if you are at a location with frequent power cuts, then trust us hybrid solar energy systems are a vital option to ensure uninterrupted power supply.

If you have any queries regarding solar installation at your home or business location our design team will be happy to help you to understand which solar energy system is worth the investment.

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