Northface Energy provide a number of solar PV kits to produce energy during the day to reduce energy bills using solar panels and inverters. We use grid inverters when we are not considering battery back up and hybrid inverters when we require battery support.
Battery prices have come down recently, but they are still expensive and are only really needed because of the threat of load shedding. When designing our systems, we focus on the day load as this provides the best return on investment and savings since you are using energy directly off the solar panels.
Grid inverters are relatively inexpensive compared to hybrid inverters as they do not need to manage battery banks, and when combined with panels provide fantastic returns on investment, paying for themselves in 4-5 years. Unfortunately, during load shedding, these systems will stop working, even if the sun is shining. They are grid connected and cannot operate without the grid, unless they are connected to a battery bank and a battery inverter. We are also connecting geysers to grid inverters, using our Xtend element, and, by turning geysers on during the day, we make the most of the free solar energy from the roof.
This is a move away from conventional hot water systems and a great way to store surplus solar energy in your geyser for use later on. For load shedding protection, we have small, inexpensive, UPS systems, that operate separately from the solar, to protect essential loads in the property.
Hybrid inverters combine grid and battery functionality and manage both the solar production and the battery operation. These inverters are naturally more expensive than grid inverters and they do require additional investment in batteries since they need these to operate. During load shedding, hybrid systems will continue to work and will provide solar power during the day and back up at night. In addition, hybrid systems will also cycle batteries during the day, when possible, to boost savings and in the evenings, again to improve savings. Returns on investment are lower, due to the higher costs and pay for themselves in 8-10 years. The do, however, provide greater independence, especially if load shedding becomes a daily event.
Northface Energy focus on day loads with most of our systems, as they provide the best return on investment. We minimize battery costs, investing only a small amount in small UPS systems for essential cover during load shedding.
If, however, you are considering a larger investment and want to be more independent of the grid, investing in a larger hybrid system does make sense. The capital outlay is significantly higher but you do have far greater independence from the grid and, therefore, greater security of the supply and cost of energy in your home.
Larger systems for residential and commercial solutions are available, but these require detailed site visits and specific designs. Please contact us directly to dicuss your requirements.
We hope to empower you to make the right decisions when considering solar because this is an important investment in your energy future.