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Is A Hybrid Solar System Right For Your Home?

Aug 15, 2022

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If keeping your utility bills low and ensuring that your home has reliable electricity are your goals, a hybrid solar system might be a good option.

A hybrid solar system has elements of both a fully off-grid solar energy system and a grid-tied system. Let’s explore the basics of a hybrid solar system, why this can be a solid choice for homeowners and some common questions about this technology.

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What Is A Hybrid Solar System?

In the past, hybrid solar systems referred to solar power systems paired with other types of renewable energy like wind. Today, it can typically be more simply stated that a hybrid solar system stores energy for later use by utilizing batteries. Typically, hybrid solar systems use lithium-ion batteries.

A hybrid system is still grid-tied, meaning the homeowner may still get a utility bill, depending on the local utility company’s policies for customers with solar panels. The homeowner’s batteries can be used for backup power during an outage or during peak hours when rates are higher.

How Does A Hybrid Solar System Work?

Like a typical grid-tied system, a hybrid solar system’s modules collect sunlight and convert it to Direct Current (DC) electricity. The DC current then goes into a solar inverter, which converts it to Alternating Current (AC) electricity that’s usable by the home and its appliances.

A hybrid solar system requires a hybrid inverter, which can operate in several ways depending on the need. For example, it can operate like a standard inverter; and it can also route excess power to an energy storage system and then use energy from the batteries to provide power during a power outage.

Providing Power During A Blackout

During a blackout, a typical grid-tied home’s solar panels stop powering the house. This is to prevent the system from feeding electricity into the grid, and it’s a safety measure to protect utility line workers who are working to restore power.

Some modern hybrid inverters isolate the system from the grid, allowing them to power a home during an outage. It’s also possible to add an emergency power supply, or EPS, to enable this capability.

Some but not all hybrid inverters have an off-grid mode. This mode allows your system to seamlessly shift loads from the grid or directly from panels to a backup battery – kind of like you’re completely off the grid. If you're seeking this feature, speak with your solar installer to find out if it's available.

Expanding Your Solar Energy System In The Future

If you’re trying to install solar panels for the lowest cost possible, you might skip the backup battery system to save money.

You can still install a hybrid inverter, though, allowing you to add solar battery storage in the future with fewer modifications.

How Much Does A Hybrid Solar System Cost?

The average for a grid-tied home is approximately $13,300. That figure includes the federal tax credit and reflects the cost of a 6-kilowatt (kW) system, which is the average size for a solar panel system. The price could be lower depending on other incentives available through government agencies and utility companies. A hybrid inverter costs upwards of $1,000 depending on the size of the system and brand selected.

Expect the total installation price to go up by about $8,000 or more if you want to add backup batteries, depending on the brand. You may also need to replace the batteries in the future. Many solar backup batteries have a 10-year warranty – be sure to ask your installer for warranty information.

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Hybrid Solar FAQs

Below are a few of the most commonly-asked questions about hybrid solar systems.

How can I save money on backup batteries for my solar panels?

Government agencies and your local utility company may offer incentives that can help you save money on installing solar batteries. The federal tax credit for solar photovoltaics is one of the most significant incentives. It was set to provide credits of 26% and 22% for battery backup systems installed in 2022 or 2023, respectively. However, the credit was increased to 30% through 2032 and will step down to 26% and 22% in 2033 and 2034, respectively, as part of the recently passed Inflation Reduction Act of 2022.      

Why shouldn’t I go off-grid instead of installing a hybrid system?

Off-grid systems are more expensive and usually much larger – they require more solar panels, more batteries to cover a home’s energy needs in all situations, and other components such as charge controllers. Some governments and utility companies also won’t allow homes in certain areas to go off-grid.

Can I install a DIY hybrid solar panel system?

It’s theoretically possible to gather the components to install a hybrid solar energy system as a DIY project. That said, it’s one of the more difficult and time-consuming projects a homeowner could attempt. Along with the installation of the racking, the solar panels, the inverter and other components, you’ll have to navigate the regulatory requirements and permitting process. Rocket SolarSM and our partners can help handle the burden of permitting and regulations so you don’t have to.

How can hybrid solar systems help me save on utility bills?

If your utility company doesn’t have net metering or offer competitive credit rates for the energy you produce, or if the company charges high rates for peak-usage hours, a hybrid solar power system can help. You’ll be able to run your home using your battery bank, which is especially important during high cost peak hours.

The Bottom Line

If you want insurance against rising electricity prices and you covet the flexibility to power your home during a grid power outage, a hybrid solar power system might be the right option for you.

Ready to learn more about a hybrid solar system for your home? Talk with a Solar Advisor today!

Rocket Solar does not provide legal or tax advice. The information herein is general in nature and should not be considered legal or tax advice. Consult an attorney or tax professional regarding your specific situation.

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