Hybrid solar-battery systems that work in a blackout

Hybrid solar is a typical grid-interactive PV system with the addition of batteries and is the most rapidly developing system on the market.

Solar electricity generated during the day can be stored in the battery for later use, such as in the evening when electricity tariffs are higher. Combining a battery with a grid-interactive system provides much more autonomy from the mains grid and allows you to charge your batteries on low-cost off-peak tariffs. 

Another benefit of a hybrid system is being able to have electricity available during a power blackout, but only if the system is designed to have this functionality. Talk to your installer about battery backup early on when planning the system, especially if you are designing the system to operate during a bushfire. You might not consider this ability important if blackouts are a rarity or the bushfire threat is low, but if your grid supply is less stable or you have devices that need to stay running, then this capability might be a priority.  

Note that hybrid solar-battery systems are more expensive than standard grid-interactive systems and so have longer payback times. This will improve in years to come as battery prices come down. Check Renew’s Free Solar and Battery Advice Calculator to work out the payback time on a planned system.

Will adding a battery make me free of the electricity grid? 

It’s possible to disconnect from the electricity grid entirely and eliminate your electricity bill. However this cannot be achieved just by adding a typical energy storage product designed for a grid-connect solar system. Even if the battery is configured to supply appliances during a grid blackout, it’s not designed to run the whole house full-time. Households living off-grid typically have a much larger battery, more robust components and usually a petrol or diesel generator as well to cover exceptionally cloudy weeks. Find out more in our Off-Grid Solar post. 


RUNS ON SUN (and rain) is a retrofit in Gooseberry Hill, WA that features both a 5.5kW solar system that is grid-connected, and a 5.8kW hybrid off-grid system. This video was made as part of Sustainable House Day 2020.

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