Hybrid solar system and hybrid inverter use cases

Hybrid solar systems are an excellent way for households to benefit from solar power without giving up the benefits of being connected to a major grid. Hybrid systems combine solar panels to produce electricity, a battery to store energy, and a two-way grid connection to draw from or feed power back into the grid depending on the circumstances.

A piece of equipment called a hybrid inverter helps all of these elements work together, acting as a central hub between the solar panels, the battery, and the main grid. A hybrid solar inverter switches the current between direct current (DC) and alternating current (AC) depending on what type of energy is needed at a given time. DC is produced by the solar panels and is used by batteries, whereas AC is used by most household appliances and the grid.

In this post, we take a look at some use cases of hybrid solar systems and hybrid inverters in four different countries with four different energy landscapes. Read on to learn more.


Energy overview and challenges

Spain is one of the most expensive countries in Europe for energy, and by far the most expensive in Southern Europe. This is due to several factors.

For example, Spain has relatively high taxes on energy for households, as well as various fees such as those to promote the use of renewable energy over fossil fuels. Along with almost every other country around the world, Spain is also being affected by the record-high natural gas prices.

Another unique influence on Spain’s high energy prices is the system used to set wholesale energy prices. This system, also shared by Portugal, involves matching the demand from energy suppliers to the supply from energy generators to set the price every day. Renewable energy is prioritized over fossil fuels, and this system has its advantages, but it does make the price of energy very unstable. This has resulted in Spain being particularly badly affected by price rises between 2020 and 2022. Some efforts have been made to limit prices, such as the recent price cap on fossil fuels, but these are short-term solutions and prices are likely to remain high for some time.

Spanish households are also impacted by the fluctuating price of energy throughout the day, with afternoons and evenings being the most expensive times to buy energy from the grid.

Use case: The Lopez family

The Lopez household – a family of four living in Madrid – were feeling the weight of energy price increases and wanted to decrease their carbon footprint, so they decided to purchase a hybrid solar system for their home in early 2021.

Average grid energy price: €0.30/kWh

Hybrid system capacity: 6.6 kW

Annual energy bill reduction: 74%

The system has had a huge impact on their energy bills, shielding them from the wholesale energy prices and enabling them to take advantage of fluctuating grid prices throughout the day. Living in one of the sunniest cities in the world means the Lopez family’s solar panels are extremely productive year-round.

On an average morning, with the family showering, making coffees, and charging devices, energy consumption is high, but solar production is relatively low. At this point, their battery supplies most of the household’s energy demands.

By 10 a.m. when prices spike, the family are usually out at work and school, so consumption is close to zero, but solar production is peaking. At this point, there’s plenty of energy coming from the panels to charge up the battery. Additionally, there’s often an excess that can be fed into the grid while prices are high.

Come 6 p.m., everyone’s home and power consumption is starting to peak, but solar production is falling fast as the sun’s intensity drops. At this point, the now fully charged battery starts to take over, meaning the family doesn’t need to draw any power from the grid while prices are again at their highest.

The Lopez family felt another big benefit of their hybrid system during an extended period of cloudy and rainy weather in winter 2022. With much less sun than usual, the solar panels were significantly less productive than usual for almost a month, only producing around 20% of their full capacity. However, the hybrid system automatically adapted to the situation, optimizing the battery use to avoid drawing power from the grid during hours of peak pricing. This resulted in the household’s bills barely rising while homes with standard solar systems were forced to pay peak prices.


Energy overview and challenges

Germany’s energy prices are among the highest in Europe, with only Denmark ranking higher. These prices – very high even among comparable nations – are caused by a combination of factors.

For example, Germany is in the midst of a large-scale transition away from traditional fossil fuels and toward renewable energy sources. This is a long, expensive process, and it’s partially funded through taxes on energy for consumers. Relatively high grid fees and surcharges also contribute to the prices.

The situation is being exacerbated by other global conditions causing an ongoing spike in energy prices globally. Germany is also particularly reliant on natural gas, making the country especially sensitive to the price rises from suppliers.

Even when there have been wholesale price drops in recent years, energy companies have generally not passed on the savings to consumers, so prices remain stubbornly high regardless of market conditions, to some extent.

Use case: The Schmidt family

The four-person Shmidt household lives in Berlin, and they used to get all of their energy from the grid. The Shmidts never really thought about having to limit their energy use, but they wanted to lower their carbon footprint. They also started to notice more and more of their monthly budget going towards bills, so decided to invest in a hybrid solar system at the start of 2021.

Average grid energy price: €0.35/kWh

Hybrid system capacity: 6.6 kW

Annual energy bill reduction: 62%

The hybrid system allows the Schmidt household to almost completely avoid using grid power, and their battery covers the entire family’s morning and evening electricity use most of the year. On those short and gray winter days when solar production is low, they still take power from the grid, but just to top up the shortfall from the panels.

Their access to cheaper electricity has also encouraged them to change the way they heat the home. They used to rely solely on natural gas for heating, but the big increases in natural gas prices in 2021 and 2022 have convinced them to use it as little as possible. Now, they use electrical convection heaters most of the time, which has cut their monthly bills even further.


Energy overview and challenges

Like much of Europe, Italy has some of the highest energy prices in the world, and it ranks highly among Southern European countries, with only Spain ahead of it in this regard.

Part of this is due to Italy’s low energy resources, resulting in the country needing to import the vast majority of supplies. While Italy is one of the world’s largest renewable energy producers, the country still mostly relies on fossil fuels and imported energy, meaning it remains highly susceptible to price fluctuations. Additionally, Italy has relatively high taxes and usage fees for households, which also contribute to the high price.

As with many European countries, Italy imports a large quantity of natural gas (and to a lesser extent, oil). As a result of rising gas and oil prices, there have been severe increases in the cost of energy for households throughout the country.

Use case: The Morelli family

The Morelli family lives in Rome in a four-person household. They installed a hybrid solar system in early 2021 in response to rising energy prices, as well as to reduce their carbon footprint.

Average grid energy price: €0.25/kWh

Hybrid system capacity: 6.6 kW

Annual energy bill reduction: 67%

Their 6.6 kW system had a huge impact on their energy bills almost immediately. Thanks to the consistent Mediterranean sun, the family’s solar array is highly productive throughout most of the year, meaning they almost always have a fully charged battery by the evening.

Morning consumption is high, but the battery reserves from the day before are usually sufficient to power the entire household until the family leaves for the day. During winter and overcast periods, or during times of especially high consumption, the battery sometimes runs out, but the system just automatically switches to drawing from the grid.

From late morning to mid-afternoon, with the sun beating down, the panels are often close to full production capacity, charging the battery and feeding excess energy into the grid. By the time everyone’s home and energy consumption spikes, the solar panels are still producing. Throughout the late afternoon and evening, the system gradually draws more power from the battery, saving the Morellis from needing to buy grid energy.


Energy overview and challenges

Australia has an interesting energy landscape, with multiple factors contributing to the unique situation in the country. Australia is abundant in natural resources, including traditional energy sources like coal and natural gas. This is part of the reason why the country still relies on fossil fuels more heavily than many other westernized nations, with around 80% of electricity still generated using coal.

However, Australia also receives an enormous amount of sun, with extremely high UV ratings relative to most of the world. This makes solar panels extremely productive in most of the country. While the government is yet to adopt solar power on a large scale, solar panels are an excellent and economical choice for many households.

It is a vast country, divided into six states. Energy prices vary significantly between states, reflecting different policies, infrastructural challenges, and climates. For example, energy prices in South Australia were almost double those in Victoria in mid-2022, despite the two states bordering each other.

Use case: The Patel family

The Patels are a family of four living in Adelaide, the most populous city in the state of South Australia. They bought a hybrid solar system in early 2021 to reduce their energy bills and reduce their carbon footprint.

Average grid energy price: $0.35/kWh (Australian Dollars)

Hybrid system capacity: 6.6 kW

Annual energy bill reduction: 65%

While South Australia’s energy prices are lower than much of Europe’s, they are generally the highest in Australia, and prices have risen in the last few years. The hybrid system immediately lessened the impact of these rising prices, lowering the Patel’s energy bills significantly.

The Patel’s chose a ‘time of use’ tariff for their grid energy supply, meaning they have different energy prices depending on the time of day, relating to overall demand. With a hybrid solar system, they can take advantage of these price fluctuations, using their battery power and feeding the grid with energy when prices are high.

South Australia is a particularly good location for solar power as energy prices are generally higher than other states, but the number of days of sunshine and intensity of sun are also very high. The Patel’s can count on their panels operating at very high productivity all year, even in winter, meaning the pay-back time for their investment is much shorter than it would be in, for example, Northern Europe.

Another big benefit of the family’s hybrid system came during a local power outage in early 2022. At the time of the outage, it was a particularly hot summer’s day, with temperatures hitting 40 degrees celsius and the air conditioning running all over the house. Many of the neighbors lost their air conditioning, but the Patel’s system simply automatically switched to drawing power from their fully charged battery, keeping the home cool until the grid came back online.

How can hybrid solar help you?

Solar energy and hybrid solar systems in particular are an excellent way to reduce reliance on grid energy, making them the perfect solution to the high and rapidly rising price of energy for households all around the world.

A Hoymiles hybrid inverter is the perfect addition to a hybrid solar system, enabling you to automatically switch between solar, battery, and grid power as and when it’s needed, saving you from fluctuating prices and helping you lower your carbon footprint.