Expert review of the Enphase IQ battery system

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Digital rendering of an Enphase Encharge storage system
Enphase batteries use the company’s signature IQ microinverter technology and are a great way to keep the power flowing when the grid is down. Image source: Enphase

Enphase is one of the most well-known and trusted brands in the solar industry. Its microinverters are used in roughly 40% of all new residential solar systems, and Enphase IQ batteries are becoming increasingly popular. The results of our solar industry survey show that 78% of installers choose Enphase as one of the inverter brands they install, and 58% of installers install Enphase batteries.

The company’s current offerings include the second-generation IQ 3T and IQ 10T batteries, and the newly released third-generation IQ 5P.

All of these batteries are fine additions to a home solar system, but the new 5P is the star. With double the output of the previous generation, an average-sized system that includes two 5P batteries should cost around $15,000 before incentives, and qualifies for the federal tax credit that can reduce that cost by 30%, as well as state battery incentives. We recommend the Enphase 5P battery to any homeowner, for both new and existing solar installations.

Let’s take a deeper look at each of these batteries to see what they can do and how they stack up to the competition.

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Key takeaways

  • Enphase products are very popular and trusted by more solar installers than any other brand
  • The company currently offers two generations of its IQ batteries: the second-generation IQ 3T and 10T, and the third-generation IQ 5P
  • Both generations of batteries use safe lithium iron phosphate battery cells, can be installed in multiple combinations of capacity and output, and come with industry-leading 15 year, 6,000 cycle warranties
  • A complete system with one IQ 10T battery costs between $13,000 and $15,000 depending on your installer
  • Swapping in two of the new IQ 5P batteries provides double the power output of the 10T, but adds about $2,000 to the cost of the system

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Enphase IQ batteries at a glance

Model IQ 3T IQ 10T IQ 5P
Capacity 3.36 kWh 10.28 kWh 5 kWh
Continuous power output 1.28 kW 3.84 kW 3.84 kW
Round-trip AC efficiency 89% 89% 90%
Dimensions 16.9 in x 30.5 in x 7.4 in 50.5 in x 30.5 in x 7.4 in 38.6 in x 21.7 in x 7.4 in
Weight 107.6 lbs 316.5 lbs 174 lbs
Warranty 60% capacity @ 15 years or 6,000 cycles 60% capacity @ 15 years or 6,000 cycles 60% capacity @ 15 years or 6,000 cycles

Components of the Enphase Energy System

When you buy an Enphase battery for home backup power, you’re actually getting more than just a battery; you’re getting an entire energy management system. There are three key pieces of equipment you’ll have installed:

  • One or more IQ Batteries, which store energy.
  • The IQ System Controller, which connects your home to the batteries, solar panels, and a backup generator (in some cases).
  • The IQ Combiner Box, which houses interconnection and communication equipment to make sure all the parts of your energy system can work together.

All of these components give you a complete system so you can easily store and use power when your home needs it the most. As with any solar battery, your solar panels will send excess solar energy produced during the day to the Enphase IQ system, which will be stored for later use.

Depending on your home, you may need to install a backup loads sub-panel, also called a critical or essential load panel. It’s a second electrical panel connected to your battery that powers the most important appliances and electrical loads that you want to run in your home if the power goes out. It typically adds $1,000 or $2,000 to your installation costs.

Enphase batteries without backup

A schematic of an Enphase battery system without the system controller.Image: Enphase

As shown in the above graphic, it is possible to get Enphase IQ batteries installed at your home for solar self-consumption without backup functionality. In this setup, you can skip installing the System Controller and IQ Combiner, and simply connect an IQ battery to your main load panel.

When properly installed with the Enphase IQ gateway for communication, the battery will be charged from excess solar energy and discharged to power the home during periods of time you can specify in the Enphase app. In the event of a grid outage, the battery will automatically shut off, and any energy stored inside will stay there until grid power is restored.

IQ Battery models

There are three models of Enphase batteries currently available from solar installers. These are the second-generation IQ 3T and 10T, and third-generation IQ 5P. All of these batteries combine lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cells with battery management systems and Enphase’s microinverters to control the two-way flow of power.

There are some small but important differences between the two generations. The older batteries are still excellent energy storage devices, but they have somewhat lower output power and lower cost. The newer IQ 5P batteries come with twice the output power, and therefore cost more.

Enphase IQ 3T and 10T batteries

Enphase IQ 10T and 3T batteries, presented side-by-sideImage: Enphase

Enphase IQ 3T and 10T batteries are the company’s second generation energy storage solutions. The 3T holds 3.36 kWh of energy in lithium iron phosphate (LFP) cells and has a continuous output of 1.28 kW. The 10T has triple the capacity and power output of the 3T to 10.08 kWh and 3.84 kW, respectively, because it’s really just three 3T batteries behind a nice cover.

When installed with an Enphase IQ System Controller, Enphase IQ batteries can be installed in any combination of up to 40 kWh, which results in a power output of up to 15.36 kW (64 amps at 240 volts).

Each IQ 3T comes with four of Enphase’s IQ8X-BAT microinverters, which can each put out 320W of continuous power. The use of multiple microinverters provides redundancy—if one of them fails, the others can continue working while you wait for your solar installer to service the broken inverter.

Cost

We estimate the total installation cost of an Enphase energy system with a single IQ 10T battery at about $13,000 to $15,000 before incentives like the 30% clean energy tax credit. Actual installation cost will vary for different installers.

Warranty

The IQ 3T and 10T batteries were introduced with a standard warranty of 10 years of 4,000 cycles, but Enphase has now extended that warranty to 15 years and 6,000 cycles for systems activated after July, 2023.

Enphase IQ 5P batteries

An Enphase energy storage system using IQ 5P batteriesImage: Enphase

The third-generation Enphase IQ 5P also uses LFP cells. It holds 5 kWh of energy and has a continuous output of 3.84 kW, meaning 5P batteries can put out twice as much power per kWh of storage than the previous generation.

Each IQ 5P comes with six of Enphase’s IQ8D-BAT microinverters, each of which can put out 640W of continuous power. Again, these microinverters are redundant—each one accounts for only 16.7% of the output of an IQ 5P, so the battery can continue to operate even if one or more microinverters has failed.

Cost

If you chose to purchase an Enphase Energy System that used two 5P batteries instead of one 10T battery, you would likely have to pay about $2,000 more than the cost listed above. Again, actual installation costs vary for different installers.

Warranty

Like the second-generation models, the IQ 5P comes with a standard 15-year warranty, up to 6,000 charging cycles.

Pros and cons of Enphase IQ batteries

The Enphase IQ battery is popular among installers for a reason. The ability to customize your system size and do it with a reliable brand is very compelling. But, as with anything, there are some things to remember when comparing the IQ Battery with other energy storage systems on the market.

Pros

  • Enphase is a trusted company and its products have an excellent history of performance and warranty coverage
  • Stackable modular design allows you to install just the right amount of storage and power output for your needs.
  • Industry-leading warranty terms
  • Enphase IQ batteries can be paired with gas-powered generators for extra backup protection.
  • Lithium iron phosphate chemistry is safer and longer lasting than alternatives some competitors use.
  • Various operating modes to meet your needs and a new operating mode on the 5P to get the most out of California’s new NEM 3.0 net billing.

Cons

  • Individual batteries have a lower power output than many competitors, so they might not be the first choice if you’re looking for a single-battery system.
  • Frequent firmware updates suggest that they are rapidly changing and debugging their software. This isn’t a huge red flag, but it just means they’re working out kinks in their battery products, and updating the firmware can be a nuisance.
  • The new IQ 5P cannot be installed alongside the older IQ 10 and IQ 3 models.

Enphase vs the competition

Enphase earns fourth place in our ranking of the best solar batteries on the market. It places behind Tesla, Generac, and sonnen. All of these batteries are excellent choices, but each has its own strong points.

Compared with the Tesla Powerwall, the IQ 10T holds slightly less energy and has lower output, while an Enphase system with two IQ 5P batteries matches the Powerwall’s output, but still holds a bit less electricity. If you increase system size to 15 kWh (three IQ 5P batteries), the Enphase system holds more energy and can put out more power, but is significantly more expensive than the Powerwall.

Compared with the Generac PWRcell, the Enphase battery compares more favorably, whether you use 10T or 5P batteries. Both offer modular expandability and good power output, but the Generac system maintains an edge in efficiency.

Compared with the sonnenCore+ battery, Enphase’s solution is significantly more costly, but otherwise compares quite well, with the !Q 5P batteries offering better output and more variety in expansion sizes.

Final thoughts

As we mentioned above, the Enphase IQ system has several advantages over all the other batteries on the market. Enphase offers an industry-leading 15-year warranty, and the built-in modularity of microinverter technology means its batteries should operate more reliably over the long term.

It’s also important to stress that the more solar installers choose Enphase batteries over any other brand. It may cost a bit more than competitors, but the Enphase IQ energy system has won a place near the top of anyone’s battery shortlist.

The way to find the best solar battery for you is by contacting a local solar company. Your solar installer can provide you with a quote for the battery system that checks all of your boxes. You can find trustworthy, local solar companies right here on SolarReviews to help you start on your journey toward energy independence!

 - Author of Solar Reviews

Ben Zientara

Solar Policy Analyst and Researcher

Ben Zientara is a writer, researcher, and solar policy analyst who has written about the residential solar industry, the electric grid, and state utility policy since 2013.

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