Hybrid solar power plants are a unique solution with many advantages. They allow you to use all the advantages of a household electrical network, guarantee yourself complete energy independence in the event of a power outage of the city power grid, and also sell electricity at a “Green” tariff to the public network. What is a hybrid solar station and what is its difference from other installations?
The principle of operation of solar power plants
- Solar panels produce direct current.
- The inverter changes it to variable.
- Batteries store unused electricity and release it when needed.
- When the sun sets, the battery charge is used first, and then the ATS switches the house’s power to the mains and battery charging.
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What are hybrid solar stations
Hybrid solar stations are combined systems that give special opportunities to their owner. In addition to the fact that with their help you can ensure complete autonomy by charging batteries, they also allow you to transfer excess generated electricity to the general network in order to sell it at the “Green” tariff.
The hybrid solar station successfully combines the properties of autonomous and grid power plants. Naturally, such an installation will cost more.
Who are hybrid solar systems suitable for?
Hybrid solar power plants are an ideal solution for those household owners who do not want to overpay for conventional electricity. They are also suitable for those who do not just want to ensure their autonomy, but are aimed at selling electrical energy obtained from the operation of solar panels.
Those who have to live in an area where power outages often occur, but want to ensure the smooth operation of the electrical system and prevent electrical appliances from breaking down, will also appreciate the benefits of a hybrid solar station.
The price of a hybrid station will be higher than the cost of an autonomous or network one. But, keep in mind that for even a lot of money you will still become energy-independent, modern. In addition, the costs will pay off in full over time, because you will be able to earn on the electricity that you will receive using the system.
Why there is a need to store generated solar energy
Grid-mounted solar power plants are, in fact, less economical for residential buildings than for businesses. And all because many people are away most of the day (study, work, etc.), and in the evening they start using electricity, the tariff of which is maximum until 23:00. If you install a hybrid station, you can accumulate electricity during the day and use it in the evening and at night.
In the case of an enterprise operating during the day, it can be argued that a network power plant is a more profitable option for it.
Hybrid solar stations allow you to store energy and use it, if necessary, at your discretion. About 8 hours is enough to cover the peak consumption, which cannot be said about a conventional autonomous power plant with a peak consumption of 3-5 days.
Advantages and disadvantages of a hybrid installation
The advantages of a hybrid station are essentially the advantages of networked and autonomous solar stations:
- Saving solar energy and the ability to spend it at your discretion.
- Independence from power outages in the network.
- The ability to “get” energy from the network in the event that the available reserves are not enough.
- High system reliability.
- Opportunity to earn on the sale of electricity.
- Reducing to a minimum the need to use traditional electrical energy, due to which the bills for its supply are negligible.
But, you also need to be prepared for the fact that hybrid stations have some disadvantages:
- The need to allocate a separate room for the installation of batteries in it.
- High price.
Despite these two main disadvantages of hybrid solar systems, more and more people decide to purchase and install them.
What is included in the kits of hybrid solar power plants
The set of equipment for a hybrid solar station does not differ much from other types of stations. Solar panels and metal structures for their installation, protective devices will be required. Another type of inverter is needed, designed specifically for hybrid stations, as well as batteries for accumulating the energy generated by the batteries (similar to autonomous systems).
How hybrid solar stations work
Consider the operation of a hybrid station using specific examples.
- In the case of average consumption and a sunny day, the received electricity is supplied to the house for the operation of electrical appliances. The remainder is used to charge batteries. When the batteries are fully charged, all that remains is transferred to the network for sale.
- If there is cloudy weather for a week in a row, there may not be enough energy for the average consumption and operation of electrical appliances in the house. In this case, the missing energy is provided by the batteries. If the batteries are also discharged, then electricity will be taken from the network, which is an alternative source.
- Consider the third option, which is the most likely. On clear days, electricity consumption is minimal (for example, the owners are at work for a long time), so almost all of it is transferred for sale. When evening comes, the owners return home and use the supplies from the batteries. The city network thus remains indifferent.
From the foregoing, it follows that with such an operation of a hybrid station, the costs of paying bills for city power grid services are minimal or completely absent. In addition, such an installation makes it possible to sell energy at the “Green” tariff and earn money from it. Therefore, it is worth noting that solar power plants of this type are a progressive, environmentally friendly, energy-efficient and reliable solution for a modern person.
How to increase the service life of a solar inverter?
An inverter is definitely an integral part of a solar system installation. Although inverters do not produce electricity by themselves, they are required to use the electricity generated by the panels.
So, doesn’t it make financial sense to spend some time and consider the lifetime of a solar inverter before investing?
Of course, it would. Unlike solar panels, the standard warranty for a solar inverter is up to 10 years.
But these devices are also more prone to damage due to the large number of electrical components that expose them to heat.
Replacing a solar inverter is not only too expensive, but sometimes repairs can be too expensive. Thus, in order to make a profit and manage costs, you need to properly care for your inverter.
The lifespan of a solar inverter, on the other hand, is determined by how well you maintain it over time.
How can you extend the life of a solar inverter?
Installing a quality solar inverter alone can reduce the chance of recurring costs. However, like any other electrical appliance, solar inverters are also subject to certain risk factors.
Given that it is one of the most complex operating components of a solar system installation, it is not uncommon for efficiency issues to arise.
Below we detail some simple steps you can take to maintain the longevity and performance of your inverter.
No. 1. Installation location
You can install the inverter inside or outside your home. The key considerations should be your preference and the degree of flexibility you want in terms of accommodation.
While indoor inverters will likely cost you less, outdoor inverters are built to withstand the weather.
Outdoor inverters also offer homeowners more options in terms of installation. This is probably because you can install them in the garage or on the edge of the house.
However, it is best to install solar inverters somewhere in the shade, away from direct sunlight.
The inverter tends to heat up rather quickly, and prolonged exposure to high temperatures may cause damage. Also, although inverters usually have cooling fans to keep out heat, it is recommended to install them in a well ventilated area.
Not to mention, you must protect the inverter from rain and water, as dampness can lead to reduced performance. So, basically, the best place would be a ventilated place, protected from heat and rain.
No. 2. Check it regularly
Your work does not end with installing a solar inverter. Rather, care and maintenance play a critical role in extending the life of a solar inverter.
The first thing you should do is check the inverter every 2-3 months. This will help highlight any risks before they become a bigger problem and cost you a fortune.
In addition, also pay attention to any water damage or dust buildup in the area where you installed your inverters.
Of course, special care is required in the case of inverters for outdoor installation, as they are more susceptible to environmental conditions and dust particles.
Dust and dirt can also clog electrical components and cooling fins. Thus, it is important that you keep the inverter in good condition and in a clutter-free space to allow air to circulate.
In most cases, inverters from leading solar inverter brands are less likely to fail before the end of their useful life. However, if you suspect any damage during your inspection, it’s best to call your solar supplier to avoid risking your home’s safety.
No. 3. Overload the inverter for maximum efficiency
Solar inverters operate most efficiently and offer maximum power output when the size of the PV array exceeds the rated output power of the inverter.
So you’d better install a solar panel module whose DC array size is larger than your inverter’s AC rating. In such a scenario, your panels are simply capable of producing more electricity than the output of the inverter.
We already know that solar panels rarely operate at rated power, and actual power generation usually differs from STC conditions.
So by increasing the size of the PV array, you can compensate for this loss and better match the DC output to the AC power of the inverter.
Another advantage of this is that when you really need to replace the inverter, you can install an inverter with a lower AC output. This will automatically reduce the cost of replacing the inverter .
However, never exceed the critical input limits of the inverter. Solar inverters work best when the input power is around 90% of the inverter’s rated power.
No. 4. Watch out for warning signs
Inverters usually issue warnings when they are not working properly.
The most common symptom you can look out for is lighting problems. Almost all solar inverters are equipped with indicators that show the current status of their operation.
Consequently, there may be problems with electrical connections if your inverter does not flash on a sunny day. If your inverter suddenly stops working, it is best to contact a professional.
Sudden power outages are never a good sign and may indicate an error or failure. In addition, any problems with the solar inverter can easily become a safety hazard for your home.
An inspection by a specialist will help you determine if you need a replacement or if the damage is minor. In the first case, check your warranty and see if it can cover the cost of replacing the solar inverter .
Following these steps will help you maximize the inverter performance, output efficiency and, as a result, its lifespan.
However, solar inverter lifetime optimization is not limited to these factors. You also have to consider other things like batteries and the type of inverter you choose.
We have prepared a FAQ section to answer some of these questions and provide further clarification.
Frequently Asked Questions about Solar Inverter
When purchasing an inverter, you cannot risk misinformation. See answers to some of the most frequently asked questions we receive from our readers.
No. 1. Which type of solar inverter should I choose?
The type of solar inverter you choose will depend on what you are comfortable with. Each type has its pros and cons.
The most common types of solar inverters installed by solar users include:
Grid Inverters: Best for those who have an unshaded roof and are looking for an inexpensive option. The downside is the effect on power generation of the entire array, even if one panel is shaded.
Micro inverters: Best for smaller roofs or roofs with shading problems. This allows you to optimize power generation at the panel level, but is a costly investment.
Power Optimizers: Best for those who can invest some money to reduce the impact of panel dimming on energy efficiency. Although it costs less than microinverters, power optimizers are difficult to maintain.
For more information, you can always contact our certified experts who will help you make the best choice depending on your property and budget.
No. 2. How to choose the best solar inverters?
Frankly, there is no clear answer to this question. The best choice for you may not be the best for someone else. To make a reasonable investment, you’ll probably need to study the specs and compare them to your needs.
Among the best brands available in Ukraine, we recommend Afore, Altek, Fronius, Growatt, Huawei, SolarEdge, Solax Power, Solis.
No. 3. What are some symptoms of inverter failure?
As we have already mentioned, most solar inverters have indicators that indicate the presence of a malfunction. You should be concerned that the inverter is not flashing or flashing red/orange/yellow.
The absence of color means that there is no sunlight on the panels. On a bright sunny day, this could indicate a serious problem. In other cases, red/orange/yellow means an error in the inverter.
However, when the inverter flashes green, you have nothing to worry about.
No. 4. Are solar inverters waterproof?
Although outdoor solar inverters are weather resistant, we do not recommend exposing them to rain or storms.
Inverters are electrical units and thunderstorms can seriously damage them and pose a safety hazard. In addition, water can also damage the electrical components of the inverter, shortening its service life.
No. 5. What else should I know about solar inverter maintenance?
The service life of a solar inverter also depends on the battery. From the type of battery you choose to testing it, everything will affect the efficiency of a solar inverter.
Be sure to replace a dead battery rather than refurbishing it as this is not permanent.
When the battery is dead, it is best to simply replace it with a new one. Failure to do so may affect power output and ultimately the entire home that uses power from the inverter.
How is Solar Energy Environmentally Friendly?
The world’s natural resources for electricity production are declining. Looking for
alternative energy sources humanity has long turned its interest to the sun. Every day the Earth receives a huge amount of solar energy – 173,000 Terawatts. This is 10,000 times more than all the electricity consumed by the world’s population. But to convert it, you need special equipment.
Types of alternative energy
Existing ways to use solar energy to generate electricity and heat.
Application of solar panels and power plants;
Use of solar-heated collectors to use heated water in heating and power generators;
Hot air power plants that convert solar energy to spin turbine generators;
Balloon solar power plants.
Solar energy is available and free, it does not need to be mined, it is inexhaustible. But solar energy also has disadvantages.
Disadvantages of using solar energy
Uneven distribution of solar energy over the surface of the planet. Some areas are sunnier than others;
On cloudy days and at night, solar energy is not available;
The need to use large areas for solar energy sources;
The content of toxic substances in photocells;
Low efficiency of solar batteries, the average value of efficiency does not exceed 20%;
High cost of solar photocells;
Contaminants must be removed from the surface of solar panels and mirrors (for hot air ES).
When solar cells are heated, their efficiency plummets dramatically.
Complex recycling of solar panels.
Despite its shortcomings, solar energy is the fastest growing alternative energy industry, accounting for only 1% of the energy used today. But the International Energy Agency estimates that solar power could provide 20-25% of global energy by 2050.
Creation of solar panels
Solar batteries are a relatively new technology for generating electrical and thermal energy, originating from the 70s of the last century. But humanity has learned to use the power of the Sun for a very long time. Even the ancient Greeks and Romans used the energy of the Sun to produce fire with the help of a magnifying glass and specially curved mirrors. So they could light torches for religious rituals, and even sink enemy ships. By directing the mirrors at a certain angle, they heated the water in the baths and illuminated the dark rooms.
in 1839, the French scientist Becquerel discovered the photovoltaic effect. While experimenting with electrolytes, he noticed that more electricity was produced if the cells were exposed to sunlight.
Creators and first solar batteries
The first solar cell, similar to the modern one, was released in 1908, 3 years after the publication of the article on the photoelectric effect, for which Einstein received the Nobel Prize. In 1954, the first silicon photovoltaic cell was created. In 1970, a less expensive version of the silicon solar cell was introduced, marking the beginning of the commercialization of solar cells. Since the early 2000s, scientists have focused on ways to make solar panels more efficient and convenient. As a result, technology has become more accessible to everyone. The ultimate goal is to make solar energy as inexpensive as traditional energy sources, as it is still not competitive enough.
Production and disposal of solar panels
The production of solar panels is an energy intensive process. Currently, most of the energy used to create solar panels comes from the recycling of fossil raw materials, so even the production of these environmentally friendly products can contribute to pollution and global warming.
solar panel recycling
Approximately 600 kWh of energy is used to produce each square meter of solar cells, which is enough to light 1,000 60 W light bulbs for ten hours. An average power system uses about two or three panels, each with an area of about 2 m2. When installed in a favorable location, a solar panel can produce up to 200 kWh per square meter of electricity per year. Therefore, the energy used in the panel production process is compensated only after a few years of operation.
The starting material for the manufacture of solar cells is trichlorosilane, a poisonous and explosive product. When it is distilled and reduced with hydrogen, pure silicon is obtained. A by-product, at this stage of production, is hydrochloric acid. Further, silicon is melted and ingots are obtained, from which solar cells are made. Heavy metals from which solar panels are made
The production of solar panels requires the use of many hazardous chemicals. Arsenic, chromium, and mercury are all byproducts of the manufacturing process. These chemicals can cause serious damage to the environment if not properly disposed of.
solar panel recycling process
Disposal of harmful elements of solar panels must be accompanied by recycling specialists
If technologies for capturing and cleaning toxic gas and liquids are observed, production will not be harmful, but often, especially in developing countries, such equipment is not installed at enterprises, which leads to environmental pollution.
The energy used in the manufacture of solar panels is not the only source of energy. The energy used to transport them must also be considered, particularly if the panels are imported from another country. Recycling solar panels is a big problem. Many of the materials used to make them are difficult to recycle, and the recycling process itself requires a lot of energy.
Harm to the environment
Despite the environmental friendliness of the use of solar panels, their production and disposal can harm the environment and human health. Solar panels contain metals such as lead, copper, gallium and cadmium, synthetic materials. Their base is made of aluminum. All this requires proper disposal. Also, placed in large areas, they can affect the climate, violating the natural temperature regime.
Application of solar panels in the world
The very production of solar cells and panels is chemically dirty. Effluent and waste gases adversely affect the environment. Land, water and air can contain harmful substances, which is a threat to all living things around these enterprises.
Are solar panels harmful to the environment?
So should solar panels be classified as environmentally harmful?
The number of solar power plants is growing. If technologies do not develop in the direction of the least harm to the planet and people, humanity will face another man-made environmental problem.
All people have access to solar energy. It is inexhaustible and has a lot of advantages. Despite the possible harm from solar panels, the use of alternative energy is not the least evil of everything that we do with the planet.
Thanks to solar panels, you can organize an autonomous power supply and not depend on anyone.
Solar energy is free and inexhaustible for at least another 5000000000 years.
Solar panels are safe for the environment during operation.
They are silent.
Resistant to various damages.
Durable, with the ability to replace individual elements.
Panels can be recycled after use.