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101 Renewable - Hybrid Inverters

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Last Updated
30th of January, 2020

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Hybrid inverters referred to as a multi-mode inverter, are enabling 'self-use' and 'load shifting' at pick hours for power output. This type of inverter can manage DC power intake from the array - string of solar panels or from a battery bank. On the AC side, the output can be streamed either towards residential consumer load or sync in with utility grid, in some situations with a micro-grid. These inverters are working hybrid, they complete the power requested from the residential critical load and at the same time they deliver AC power to the utility grid or micro-grid. A hybrid inverter under the hood is a combination between a battery-based inverter and a grid-tie inverter working both ways.

Hybrid Inverters

Some of the hybrid inverters are more powerful and they do have a larger DC power intake interface accommodating not only solar panels or battery banks but wind turbines and external DC source power generators.

 Some of the hybrid inverters do not provide a backup mode and therefore can not function in case of a blackout, power outage. They are kept off to avoid islanding effect and protect against electrical hazards in case of a blackout.

Hybrid inverters are having a dual functionality on the DC side: They can drain the battery bank to deliver power to the utility grid or a critical load in a residential dwelling. Or they do charge the battery bank and the excess of DC power produced is used on the residential load and in case some of it is leftover it is sold to the utility grid. The internal controller is programmed to first deliver to residential load and after the difference in sync with the power line where it is feed in. Juicing up the battery bank is done in conjunction with a charge controller, but that depends on the inverter. Some all-in-one inverters are doing that by themselves, using multiple sources. That will allow storing solar or off-peak energy in a battery to be used during peak times.

Usage mode of a hybrid inverter:-

Use in off-grid mode (without network) with the possibility of linking to a generator. The inverter must be connected to a battery bank and must have true off-grid capabilities - not all Hybrid inverters are created equal or can be used in off-grid applications.

Use in on-grid or grid-tie (connected to the network) with the possibility of selling energy or excess energy. There is a need to have the norm compliance of protection and decoupling (DIN VDE 0126.1).

Use in hybrid mode the inverter functions with a battery bank, but also connected to the grid. This dual functionality is the highlight of hybrid inverters that hence enable energy management (smart grid).

Use in backup mode, or storage mode prevents blackouts by switching from on-grid mode to off-grid mode at the moment of a grid outage, thereby eliminates network cuts -- not all Hybrid inverters are created equal or can be used in backup mode. 

Typical PV solar system based on a hybrid inverter is using the following equipment:-

  Array-String of solar panels,
  Charge Controller (optional related to hybrid inverter used),
  Battery Bank,
  DC Disconnect (additional),
  Rapid Shutdown (conditional),
  Hybrid (Battery-Based Grid-Tie) Inverter,
  Power Meter,

Why we need a charge controller when we install a hybrid inverter?

The answer is: some of the hybrid inverters are pure inverter/chargers and are not equipped to directly charge batteries from the DC provided by a PV array. A charge controller is needed to appropriately match the PV voltage to the battery and regulate charging.

How the output is shifting the power to either residential load or utility grid or both:-

Hybrid inverters are using an internal controller which selects the way power is delivered on the AC side and is shifting the load at pick hours, prioritizing the delivery process. Some newer hybrid inverters include an AI unit that can be programmed. The unit will train itself on the dwelling it serves and the power line is connected to, respective it will watch on the pick hours consumtion when will shift loads. In this way the inverter will use more of the DC power generated and will provide a reliable backup power.

Some of the main advantages using hybrid inverters in a solar PV installation:-

  A hybrid inverter can usually be installed without batteries for future expansion,
  It’s easy to upgrade your existing solar PV system to hybrid by installing an inverter,
  Allows use of stored solar energy during peak evening times (known as self-use or load-shifting),
  Most hybrid inverters have backup power capability,
  Reduces power consumption from the grid (reduced demand),
  Enables advanced energy management (ie. peak shaving),
  Monitoring software for real-time status display and control,
  Programmable multiple operation modes: Grid-tie, off-grid and grid-tie with backup prioritizing the user mode,
  Frequently intelligent and programmable for maximizing overall system efficiency using an AI module,

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