Hybrid Solar-Electric System
Below you will find a picture showing the basic components of an off grid system. Sunlight is collected by the photoelectric panels on the roof, which is funneled into the charge controller. The controller charges the battery bank. The inverter then takes energy from the battery bank and converts it into AC electricity to power the home. If additional power is required it is provided by the grid. An optional generator can be included to provide backup power.
A hybrid solar-electric system works just like a grid-tied system when the grid is providing power, and just like an off-grid system when the grid goes down. It will reduce your electric bill and also provide power during blackouts. The battery bank is an uninterruptible power supply, and can be used to maintain medical equipment or computer servers.
In order for a solar-electric system to produce energy, the panels must be exposed to direct sunlight. Here in new mexico, that means facing them southward at an angle of 15 to 35 degrees. If you have a south facing angled roof, it is probably at a good angle for solar! And if you have a flat roof, angled mounts can be used to make sure the panels are facing correctly. Solar-electric panels turn sunlight into DC electricity. This energy is then sent to an inverter which turns it into AC electricity, which is what everything in your house uses. From the inverter, the AC electricity is used to power your appliances and electric devices.
A charge controller is also used, and it maintains the battery bank. When you are producing more energy than you are using, the extra is stored in the batteries. The batteries are only used when the grid goes down, and so are not discharged very often. After a power outage, the charge controller uses the grid to quickly recharge the batteries. Some hybrid solar-electric systems also have a propane or diesel generator. The generator is used to maintain the battery bank if the power outage lasts longer than a day or two.
Battery banks and generators require maintenance, and need to be looked at every month or so depending upon how old they are their brand. Unlike grid-tied solar-electric systems, hybrid systems require periodic maintenance in order to stay at peak performance.
Solar-electric panels can be placed on the roof of your house, which saves on space and makes them harder to see, or they can be placed on a mount on the ground. Ground mounted systems take up more space but are cheaper, easier to build, and can sometimes produce more energy. Panels can also be included in carports or sunshades, letting you get the most use out of your purchase. Solar-Electric panels won't be damaged by hail or thunderstorms. Placing panels on your roof or in your yard will produce energy for years to come.