Gas generators have dominated the electricity sector for many years. But, with the price of fuel constantly on the rise, and the transport and storage thereof also being a challenge, solar and generator hybrid systems are rapidly taking the lead.
This issue with solar energy, though, is that it can be unreliable and often isn't enough to meet the needs of your load.
This is why solar and generator hybrid systems were created. These systems combine solar and gas generators and make up for the aspects that the other one lacks.
In this article, we discuss what these solar and generator hybrid systems are, how they work, and who will benefit from them.
What Is a Solar and Generator Hybrid System?
Solar generator hybrid systems combine the solar power generated from photovoltaic (PV) cells with another energy source, usually gas.
These hybrid generators are useful when there are power outages and can supply electricity to a large area.
The most common combination is a mix between the solar energy of a PV system and diesel.
These systems will usually consist of solar panels, a gas generator, batteries to store the generated energy, a charge controller, and an inverter to change the current to an appropriate form.
The diesel part of the system fills the gap between the load that needs to be powered and the power that is generated by the PV system.
Battery storage enhances the overall performance of the system, allowing you to store generated energy for when you need it most. The solar energy part of the hybrid system helps to decrease costs and pollutants emitted into the environment.
These systems are typically used to help households run off-grid.
How Does a Solar and Generator Hybrid System Work?
The two energy sources are meant to complement one another. When energy loads are high, the PV component system can help to supply additional energy, which lowers the amount of diesel fuel needed to meet demand.
An additional source of power comes from the diesel generator when the solar panels and the batteries are no longer able to fully supply the load.
The generator supplies the load directly but also charges the battery through a rectifier. This makes sure that your battery’s capacitors are always charged and able to run as a backup whenever they’re needed.
Most solar and generator hybrid systems also make use of an intelligent energy management system. This ensures that there is optimum interaction between the diesel generator and the solar system. Each source is providing the exact amount of energy necessary, so there’s no waste.
The intelligent energy management system ensures that as much solar energy as possible is used and that the diesel generator kicks in only when necessary and is advantageous for the system.
This helps to save on costs, keeps you from refilling the diesel, and ensures the optimal functioning of the system.
Advantages of a Solar and Generator Hybrid System
Hybrid solar generator systems are more cost-effective than 100% gas generators because they make use of energy from the sun, which is completely free.
Because solar energy is helping to power the load, less fuel is used by the generator. This, in turn, saves you a lot of money.
Return on Investment
Solar and generator hybrid systems usually pay for themselves due to the large savings you make from not using so much fuel to power your home.
The intelligent energy management system also helps to ensure that maximum savings are made, which further enhances the system’s return on investment.
Since the system largely generates power through solar energy, there are fewer greenhouse gas emissions than there would be in a normal diesel generator.
If you’re trying to be earth-conscious but still have the appliances in your home run properly, solar hybrid systems may be the answer you’re looking for.
Reliable and Accessible Power Supply
The fact that solar energy is combined with a diesel generator makes the power supply a lot more stable and reliable.
If the system relied on solar energy alone, it would not be reliable enough to consistently power your home. For example, in the winter months when it’s rainy or overcast, and there is less sunlight, a solar generator might not be able to keep up and supply the necessary load.
With a solar generator hybrid, if there are periods of limited sunlight, the diesel generator will kick in and makes up for what the solar system is lacking in terms of producing power.
The PV System Needed Isn’t as Large
The solar panels used don’t have to be as large as they would be if it was solely a solar generator.
This is because the system has a diesel generator as a backup, so it doesn’t have to rely on solar power alone. This reduces the amount you will have to spend on solar panels, which lowers the initial cost, depending on the type of generator you get.
Powers Larger Loads
Solar generators are normally only able to power small devices and appliances for a limited amount of time.
Solar generator hybrids, on the other hand, can power loads as big as entire households, and as long as there is fuel in the generator, the generator will keep going and going.
Energy Is Never Wasted
With the use of intelligent energy management devices, the power supply is highly controlled. It makes sure the correct amount of solar energy is supplied for the load and doesn’t use energy from the diesel generator unless it is absolutely necessary.
Additionally, if the correct equipment is used, energy is fed back into the batteries and stored for later use, so even solar energy is not wasted.
Potential Disadvantages of a Solar and Generator Hybrid System
More Expensive Than a Solar Generator
Although a solar and generator hybrid system is cheaper than using only a diesel generator, the long-term costs are still more than using a purely solar generator.
The diesel element of the generator requires fuel and, depending on what season you’re in, it may need more than usual if there’s no sunlight.
Not as Environmentally Friendly as a Solar Generator
Again, even though a solar and generator hybrid system is more environmentally friendly than a stand-alone diesel generator is, it is still not quite as environmentally friendly as a purely solar generator.
Burning diesel emits carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, even if it is less than what it would if it was a diesel generator working alone.
Maintenance May Be Required
The solar part of the system normally doesn’t require much maintenance, as there are relatively few moving parts.
Diesel generators, however, will need some maintenance after a few years. When using an oil engine, as a generator does, you have to replace things like spark plugs, oil filters, and a few other components.
This could lead to additional costs being involved, on top of the fuel and initial costs.
The installation of a solar and generator hybrid system is complex. The initial stages of designing, installing, and constructing a hybrid system takes a lot of work and planning to put together, and is a bigger job than each component is on its own.
While the solar part of the system is noise-free, the diesel generator can be quite loud and noisy when it is operating.
Is a Solar and Generator Hybrid System Better Than a Gas or Solar Generator?
The debate over solar generators vs gas generators has been going on for as long as solar generators have existed.
This is essentially why the solar and generator hybrid system was created, to get the best of both worlds.
It is difficult to say which is better, as they all have their pros and cons. Essentially, the one that’s “better” boils down to which one best suits your needs.
If you are still left wondering if solar generators are worth it, or if there’s one type of generator that’s better, the answer is that all three of them are definitely worth it if they meet your needs.
Is a Solar and Generator Hybrid System Is Right for Me?
To ensure that you get the right system for your needs, there are a few things to consider.
Solar and generator hybrid systems are best suited for anyone in remote areas. It is usually also difficult to transport diesel to these areas, and storage can also be an issue.
If you’re looking to move over to solar energy, but have a large load to power that most solar generators can’t handle, a solar and generator hybrid system will be a better option.
Lastly, if you live in an area that experiences frequent power cuts and blackouts, then you should also consider a system like this.
Look for an EMP Proof Solar Generator
When looking for the solar generator part of your system, we highly recommend investing in an EMP-proof solar generator.
An EMP, or electromagnetic pulse, is a surge of electromagnetic energy that can occur in your generator or connected electrical systems. An EMP carries a huge amount of energy which can easily damage your generator or any of the appliances you have connected.
For this reason, we would strongly recommend making sure the solar generator part of your hybrid system is EMP proof. A good example of this would be the Lycan Renogy solar generator.
Solar and generator hybrid systems are slowly taking the world by storm. They are a reliable source of partially renewable energy, and a way to save on money while still getting all the benefits and power that you need.
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