Components & Solutions
An inverter converts DC power from batteries, photovoltaic panels or both into AC power for grid usage. Inverters range in size, capability and functionality.
Photovoltaic (PV) Panels
Commonly known as solar panels, these use sunlight as a source of energy to generate DC electricity. They can be connected in series or parallel to generate the required amperage and voltage for the downstream inverter.
Batteries are the power storage vessels for the system. They come in many sizes and material makeups. The most common batteries used for backup or hybrid systems include: lead acid, absorbent glass mat (AGM) and lithium-ion.
Off-grid (backup power) solutions
Off-grid or backup power solutions are suitable for situations where grid power (Eskom) is not available or is unreliable eg. Loadshedding.
An off-grid system uses power from the grid, solar panels or a combination of both to charge battery(s). The stored power in the battery(s) is then available for the times when grid power is not available. Accurate sizing of the components of an off-grid system (inverter(s), battery(s) and panels) is critical to ensure that essential loads are catered for adequately but not excessively during an outage period.
On-grid (grid-tied) solutions
On-grid or grid-tied systems are the most common and cost-effective solution to reduce electricity bills.
The system uses photo-voltaic power from PV panels during sunlight hours, via a grid-tied inverter to supplement your electricity needs from the grid (Eskom). There is also the option to export excess electricity back to the grid when the grid-tied system is generating more electricity than you need during daylight hours. The system automatically shuts down when there is a loss of grid power.
Hybrid solar solutions (the best of both)
Hybrid systems combine the benefits from grid-tied and backup systems, giving you the best of both worlds. The hybrid inverter manages the power produced by the PV panels to charge the battery(s) and supplement grid power thus saving you money. Stored battery power can be utilised to power essential loads during an outage as well as at night, to further reduce energy costs. The grid-tied function of a hybrid inverter automatically shuts down when there is a loss of grid power, however essential loads are catered for by the stored battery power. Exporting power back to the grid is also an option with a hybrid inverter.