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What is a Hybrid Solar System? (A Complete Guide)

Solar systems can take up various shapes. They can be connected to the grid, not to the grid at all but only to batteries, and to both batteries and the grid. Termed grid-tied system, the first type of arrangement had a flaw—no power during the blackouts.

The second arrangement is off-grid, where solar PV systems are connected to batteries alone. But off-grid systems have the highest upfront costs and detach you from the grid altogether. So, what could be the middle ground between these two arrangements?

This is where the hybrid solar system appears on the scene. Read through our article to understand what a hybrid system is, how much it costs, who should install it, and so on.

Understanding hybrid solar system

As the name suggests, a hybrid solar system is a mix of grid-tied and off-grid systems.

Your solar PV system is connected directly to the grid. But to reap the benefits of an off-grid system, your system also features a battery bank. And so, with a hybrid system, you can have the best of both worlds.

The concept of hybrid systems emerged when grid-tied systems issued a problem. During the power outage, your system is shut down for safety reasons and will remain shut down for as long as the blackout continues. You cannot generate electricity, even from your solar panels, as your solar system is directly connected to the grid.

Going completely off-grid may not be feasible for a majority of homeowners—batteries are expensive, and installing a complete battery solution could cost upwards of $20,000.

So, what to do then? Install a hybrid solar system.

These systems remain connected to the grid, but they also feature a small battery bank to have ready access to power during emergency hours.

You keep your home powered at all times, whether day or night, in a blackout or inclement weather conditions.

The popularity of hybrid solar

Solar systems with batteries have seen a sharp increase over the last decade, most of them hybrid systems. Until 2014, only about a percent of American homeowners had batteries attached to their solar PV systems. In 2017, the number of systems paired with storage almost touched 3%. But comes 2021, the percentage of solar systems paired with storage shoots up to 11% and is expected to be 29% by 2025.

But pairing with storage is not limited only to homeowners; the utility-scale solar market is also turning to solar with storage. Solar Energy Industries Association states that more than 45 gigawatts (GW) of new projects announced and commissioned are paired with storage.

Equipment required for hybrid solar systems

The equipment needed for a hybrid solar system is as follows:

Solar panels—to generate electricity for the household, to charge the batteries, and, if it is still in excess, for exporting to the grid. The number of panels varies based on your energy needs and preferences.

Racking and mounting—they make the foot and hands of a solar system. If you want to install the system on the ground or your roof doesn’t offer a good pitch angle, the racking and mounting work may cost you more.

Inverters—to convert direct current (DC) electricity to alternating current (AC) electricity.

Batteries—to store energy for you. The number of batteries depends solely upon you. You could install a complete storage solution or just install only a couple for necessary appliances.  

Net meter—required for smooth integration with the grid. The standard meter does not allow monitoring and exchange of two-way flow of electricity.

Charge controllers—to oversee the charge flown to batteries.

Electrical wiring—they are the nerves of the system.

Cost of a hybrid solar power system

A 6kW hybrid system, which can power most American homes, would cost you around $20,000 to $25,000 after the Federal Income Tax Credit is adjusted in the price. It includes the cost of batteries, which might range from $8,000 to $12,000. In hybrid and off-grid systems, your battery bank drives the cost of your overall system. For some systems, batteries could cost as high as $30,000.

But the actual cost of hybrid solar systems varies based on your state, system size and battery bank, labor costs, and goals. For example, if you do not want your system to power your whole home but only a portion, you would need a smaller system. Most homeowners choose a system enough for their needs and keep the storage system only for emergency needs.

Did you know?

In most areas in the U.S, the solar payback period is 4 to 8 years. That is, the electric bill savings provided by your solar system pay off the cost of the solar system within just 4 to 8 years.

Pros and cons of hybrid solar power

Pros of the hybrid solar

Less reliance on grid electricity—hybrid solar systems help you rely less on grid electricity. Your needs during the day are met directly by solar panels. For the night, you will turn to the grid (or batteries, depending on the size of your storage system). But when there is a blackout, grid-tied systems will be shut down but not a hybrid system. Your battery bank will still power you.

Uninterrupted power supply—hybrid systems give you access to power at all times. It is daytime, and the sun is shining? You are covered. Night? Covered. Cloudy weather? Covered. Blackout?

More savings—hybrid systems save homeowners the most. Your electric bill decreases as you rely less on the grid. But if your system generates excess electricity, you can export it to the grid, against which you will earn energy credits.  

Cons of the hybrid solar

Higher initial investment—hybrid solar systems are ideal but expensive. They cost more than grid-tied systems, as batteries make up the biggest impact on your overall cost. The batteries would sometimes cost 100% or more of the rest of the system.

Requires more space—hybrid systems also require more space. Space becomes an issue only in smaller homes. But if you can spare only a cabinet in your garage for the battery bank, you will be good to go.

Is hybrid solar right for you?

It depends on your goal and what is the status of net metering regulations in your state.

We recommend hybrid solar systems to homeowners who want to decrease their reliance on the grid but cannot afford to go off-grid. Off-grid is not only expensive, but it also requires lifestyle changes.

So, if you want to say goodbye to the grid, but not for all time, go for a hybrid solar system.

Hybrid solar systems also work well for those whose states or utilities have not clearly outlined the return mechanism for net metering.

Certain states, such as Alabama, South Dakota, and Tennessee, offer zero net metering benefits. In such states, exporting your excess energy generated by solar panels would make the least sense. Why not store it in batteries for later needs?

If your budget allows it, install a hybrid system. Lastly, the hybrid solar system will come to your rescue if you live in regions prone to frequent blackouts. You will have no power when a blackout happens, even with a grid-tied solar system. Hybrid solar systems offer foolproof security against power outages.   

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Call us today to get a quote on solar panels, inverters, and battery packs. We're sure we can beat any other quote you have!.

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