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What is a solar hybrid inverter?

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Ever wondered what a solar hybrid inverter is and how it differs from a regular inverter? This Canstar Blue guide answers these questions and more. 

The world of solar energy can be confusing. From panels to battery systems, the solar generation options available to households are expanding. One area that’s seen a particular growth over the last few years is solar inverters, thanks to newer hybrid capabilities.

Solar hybrid inverters are slowly making a name for themselves on the solar scene, but what is it that makes these models stand out? And how do they differ from any old inverter?

In this article we’ll deep dive into the complex world of solar hybrid inverters, explaining how they work, the benefits they could bring to your home solar system, and whether they are worth installing.

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What is a solar hybrid inverter?

Essentially, a hybrid solar inverter is a solar inverter and battery inverter combined into one model. This means that this type of inverter can both convert the sunlight absorbed by solar panels into electricity, and convert energy stored within solar batteries into electricity for use in the home.

Normally, two separate inverters are required for solar panels and solar batteries, as the energy running through these systems needs to be converted differently for household usage. A hybrid inverter eliminates this issue, combining both functions into one machine.

How does a hybrid inverter differ from a regular inverter?

solar inverter

Where a regular inverter, whether it be string (most common) or battery (used for energy storage) can only convert energy for one type of system, a hybrid inverter combines these two functions to allow for use in multiple systems.

A hybrid inverter can still generate power in the same way as any other kind of inverter. Its standout feature however, is that it already has built-in connection for energy storage systems. This means that if a household already has a battery, it can connect to that system straight away, as well as the panel system. It also means if a household decides to get a battery system added to their solar panels later down the track, it won’t need to purchase an additional inverter to help support the battery.

Why do you need an inverter?

An inverter is needed to help convert the electricity generated by solar panels into energy compatible for household use and storage ability. This is because solar panels create direct current – DC – energy whereas household appliances generally run off alternating current – AC – electricity. Therefore, without an inverter, the energy generated from a solar panel is practically useless in the home.

What can you do with a hybrid solar inverter?

Since a hybrid solar inverter is combining the functions of two separate systems, there are a few notable things it can do that a regular inverter can’t. Some functions you may find in a hybrid inverter include: grid-tie mode, hybrid mode, backup mode and off-grid mode. These have been described in further detail below.

Please note, not all inverter manufacturers will include these specific features in each of their models.

  • Grid-tie Mode: This is a function that allows the hybrid inverter to default to simple solar inverter operations. In this mode, battery features are switched off.
  • Hybrid Mode: Under this option, the inverter defaults to battery operation, working to help support the storage of excess solar energy during the day for use in the evening.
  • Backup Mode: This allows the inverter to act as a backup power source during grid outages. Generally, this feature allows the system to automatically switch itself to this mode if an absence of grid power is detected. This is a less common feature among hybrid inverters.
  • Off-grid Mode: As the name suggests, this feature allows the inverter to operate as its own power source and provide independence from the grid. It uses its own power to generate solar energy, power the home and charge any battery systems. Only a select few hybrid inverters come with this feature.

Benefits of solar hybrid inverters

There are a few benefits that come from using a hybrid inverter in your home solar system. The most notable include:

  • All-in-one solution for solar panel and battery systems
  • Battery-ready for future system expansions
  • Low maintenance
  • Backup power supply functionalities
  • Centralised monitoring for your solar system

How much do solar hybrid inverters cost?

A solar hybrid inverter can generally cost anywhere between $1,000 and $3,000 although some models may sit well above this range. The final cost however, will be dependent on a number factors including installation fees, the cost of the solar panels and battery system costs (if you’re also installing one).

You can typically expect a solar hybrid inverter to cost more than an average string or battery inverter due to the more advanced technology used.

Compare Solar Plans

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 3911kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4613kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on SA Power network in Adelaide but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4011kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Should I get a solar hybrid inverter?

Ultimately, this decision comes down to the needs of your solar system and home energy usage. If you’re installing a solar power system for the first time, it might be worth looking into a solar hybrid inverter as a means to future-proof your panel system. This way there is some flexibility should you decide to add a battery system later on.

If you aren’t interested in battery storage you can still get everything you need for your solar system from a standard string inverter. Going with this option however, may just mean that you’ll need additional inverters or equipment, should you decide to add a battery system down the track.

Before making any purchase decisions it is best to get in contact with a licensed solar installer who can evaluate the energy needs of your home and help you choose the inverter that’ll make the most of your solar energy. They can also take into consideration your budget and solar energy goals and suggest an inverter that meets these needs.

If you are looking for an installer to help you with this process, you can find a selection of top-notch companies in our latest ratings report. This annual review reveals which installers Aussie solar customers rated best in the biz. To see the current winner, hit the link below.

Compare Solar Installers

Image credit: Petrmalinak/Shutterstock.com, Douglas Cliff/Shutterstock.com

Kelseigh Wrigley
Energy Specialist
Kelseigh Wrigley was a content producer at Canstar Blue for three years until 2024, most recently as an Energy Specialist. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the Queensland University of Technology.

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