Installing a solar array with battery backup requires some different components than traditional systems. Here is a quick rundown of the components involved in grid-tied PV solar storage system with batteries.
A hybrid inverter (also referred to as a bidirectional or battery-based inverter) is typically a string inverter that can operate bidirectionally. This means it can take DC from the array or the battery, supply AC to the grid or critical load panel, and charge from the PV or the grid. A hybrid inverter can isolate the system from the grid when the grid is down so that the system can still provide power to critical loads without feeding it into the grid. In contrast, when systems with traditional string inverters disconnect when the grid is down, no solar power is able to be generated or used.
The job of a string inverter mainly consists of checking if the grid is online and if PV is being generated, and then converting powering and sending it to the grid. However, hybrid inverters need to be pretty smart, taking an intelligent approach to power management. This is especially important because of changing time-of-use rates which affect the cost of electricity at different times. The inverter needs to determine where the power is coming from and what critical load is needed to manage power from the batteries, array and grid to get the best electricity savings and financial return possible for the system owner.
Battery management system
A battery management system (BMS) helps control parameters such as battery temperature, depth of discharge and state of charge so the batteries aren’t over or under charged, which can affect their life. A BMS is usually a software function internal to a charge controller or more sophisticated charging device.
A BMS is critical when using lithium-ion batteries because there is more risk for thermal issues with this chemistry. When using other batteries, such as lead acid, a BMS can be included but is not critical because there is less risk of thermal issues and the inverter or charge controller can usually handle charging regimes.
Choosing the right battery for a system is essential for optimzing project life and performance, and minimizing maintenance costs and downtime or failure. There are different types of batteries, and manufacturers within each type make their products differently.
Exploring the different types of batteries and asking your manufacturer or distributor the right questions can help you decide which chemistry and manufacturer is right for you. You’ll also want to make sure you size the battery properly to the array and provide proper O&M for the best performance and battery life.
Deep cycle batteries have different chemistries (although) they can be lead/acid chemistry. The old nickel-iron battery is making a comeback. They are not cheap but Ni-Fe has been proven to be a (decades) use battery. Iron Edison sells these and Lithium Ion energy storage technology as well as complete stand alone solar PV, battery storage and inverter power for A.C. appliances.
clive muparadzi says
You can manage the power usage from the batteries by changing the old bulbs to LED bulbs after doing new installation.
Robert Fisher says
When I install a battery backup system, I will probably isolate lighting circuits and connect them to the battery/solar cell units. Household items requiring more power might have to be handled differently.
Depending on the battery voltage you use, there are lights and devices that are used on motor homes and campers that operate at lower voltages. Using the lights at the lower voltage is probably more efficient because no doubt the inverters use some of the electricity. LED lights are more efficient and operate on DC.
Lots of battery choices. A deep cycle battewry such as used in a Golf Cart might be good choice
You are correct, there are many configurations one can use for their particular energy use. IF one lives in the North East, a small wind generator may work more efficiently than solar PV. Having a hybrid system may be a valid option. When ice storms take down power lines, it would be advantageous to have lights and fans running on D.C. power. With small loads, one could run for days off of a relatively small battery. IF there are specific needs, as in some folks have those oxygen machines that they have to use, then a larger system would be required and perhaps have its own (off grid) inverter that feeds circuits from a secondary load center that is ONLY off grid solar and or wind powered from the battery directly.