What is the Enphase Energy System - and is it right for you?

Updated

Enphase Energy, Inc., headquartered in Fremont, California, revolutionized the solar industry with their microinverter technology. Now, thanks to their global success as a market leader, they have started to expand their offerings for the renewable energy industry.

Enphase recently introduced the Enphase Energy System, going so far as to say that it is the “next generation” of solar power. Consisting of microinverters, IQ batteries, and an interactive app, the all-in-one system offers an integrated solution to store and manage energy production from your solar panels. 

Let’s see if the Enphase Energy System stacks up to its claims.

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    What exactly is the Enphase Energy System?

    The integrated whole-home Enphase Energy System. Image source: Enphase

    The Enphase Energy System combines solar generation, batteries, and software for a practical all-in-one system that gives you control over your energy use while also lowering your utility bill. 

    One of the key highlights of this system is that it allows you to island your home from the grid, in accordance with the NEC (National Electricity Code), meaning you can operate your solar power system while the grid is down. 

    It’s important to note that the Enphase Ensemble System requires solar panels to be pre-installed at the home. Fortunately, Enphase’s products pair well with the majority of solar panel brands. Most solar installers will also be trained and certified to install Enphase products.

    To understand more about the system, let’s take a closer look at each of its core components.

    Enphase IQ microinverters 

    The Enphase microinverters are the heart of the Enphase Energy System. 

    Microinverters are designed to be placed behind every single panel in your solar array. They capture all the available electricity from each solar panel and convert it to alternating current (AC) power to be used as electricity in your home. 

    Microinverters ensure that each panel’s productivity isn’t impacted by the performance of a neighboring panel. In other words, if one of your panels fails or stops producing power because of shade or some sort of obstruction, the rest of your system won’t be affected (which is the case with traditional string inverter system setups). 

    Enphase is world-renowned for their microinverters with over 39 million shipped worldwide, so you can trust that they’ve got the technology down pat. Their microinverters are also accompanied by an industry-leading 25-year limited warranty.

    IQ8 Series microinverters 

    Enphase IQ8 Series microinverter

    Enphase IQ8 Series microinverter. Image source: Enphase

    Enphase recently released their smartest microinverter yet - the IQ8 Series. It has the ability to capture more energy in low-light conditions, thereby increasing your clean energy production capabilities. 

    Another major feature of the IQ8 microinverter (and what sets it apart from previous series) is something called Sunlight Backup. Historically, solar panel systems without a battery haven’t been able to operate when the power grid is down. The IQ8’s Sunlight Backup allows for your solar panels to continue powering your home during an outage, even without a battery.

    With the IQ8, you're also able to seamlessly switch from a grid-tied to an off-grid system. What that means is, when there is a grid outage, your Enphase system will detect the abnormal voltage and frequency, and automatically disconnect from it. The IQ8 microinverters are then able to form a microgrid and use Sunlight Backup to keep powering your home.

    How much does the IQ8 microinverter cost? 

    There are six models that make up the IQ8 Series, and they each have slightly different functions and abilities. Depending on the model, you should expect to pay between $167 to $269.49 per microinverter.

    Enphase IQ battery 

    Enphase IQ battery

    Enphase IQ battery. Image source: Enphase

    Just like other solar batteries on the market, the Enphase IQ Battery gives you the ability to store the excess solar energy you produce to use it whenever you need to. This means that you can use the energy you produce to power your home at night or during an outage. 

    Enphase’s IQ Batteries are also accompanied by a Storm Guard, a feature that will track different weather systems to prioritize power backup before a storm. 

    Enphase offers their IQ Batteries in two sizes: 3.3kWh and 10kWh. For the solar battery industry, these are both on the smaller side. To compare, the Tesla Powerwall has a usable capacity of 13.5 kWh. However, since Enphase batteries are modular by design, you are able to easily add more capacity if you need to.

    Check out our in-depth review of the Enphase IQ battery here.

    How much does the Enphase IQ battery cost? 

    The Enphase IQ Battery 3 will cost approximately $3,000 and the Enphase IQ Battery 10 will cost between $7,000 and $9,000. These prices are relatively standard for the solar battery industry with most batteries ranging between $7,000 and $14,000.

    You should keep in mind that labor costs for installing an IQ Battery could add on somewhere between $1,000 - $2,000 to the price.

    Is your home suitable for solar battery storage?

    Enphase app 

    enphase app

    The Enphase app is the communications gateway of the system. Image source: Enphase

    The Enphase app allows you to control your Enphase System from practically anywhere. You’re able to see your overall energy production, as well as per-panel production data with a single click. 

    Enphase also provides system owners with an insight into a variety of performance measures of the system, making consumption monitoring easier than ever. The app allows you to see what appliances are using up the most power and gives you the ability to prioritize where your power goes during an outage.

    The app can be downloaded for free via the App Store or the Google Play Store. 

    Pros and cons of the Enphase Energy System

    Pros 

    All-in-one system 

    Unlike other energy systems, you’re given a single solution for solar generation, storage, and usage. So, instead of searching through different suppliers to find compatible products, you can utilize Enphase’s one-stop shop.

    Advanced capabilities 

    The IQ8 microinverters have the ability to capture more energy in low-light conditions and therefore improve your system's energy productivity. 

    Separately, thanks to the Sunlight Backup feature, you can continue running your system even when the grid is down.

    Enphase app 

    The Enphase app provides great insight into the performance of your entire energy system, as well as giving you control over where your energy goes. Unlike many other apps, the Enphase app shows per-panel performance, in addition to your appliances' energy consumption.

    Cons 

    Battery size 

    Enphase only offers two different size solar batteries, and both of them are on the smaller side - meaning that the average American household would need more than one Enphase battery if they were intending to island their system from the grid.

    Price 

    When it comes to home battery backup, the price of an Enphase Energy System is on the higher end of the spectrum. This is largely due to the price of installing microinverters on your solar system. Not only are microinverters expensive but they also bring additional labor costs.

    You can take a look at various solar battery costs, as well as all of the factors that contribute to the price, here.

    Can it be used for off-grid homes?

    If you’re looking to use the Enphase Ensemble for an off-grid home, it’s possible - but you’ll need some additional technology. 

    Along with your Enphase Energy System, you will need an IQ Combiner 4/4C and an IQ System Controller 2 in order to provide sufficient power for your home.

    IQ Combiner 4/4C 

    The IQ Combiner 4/4C consolidates interconnection equipment such as solar PV and storage circuit breakers into a single device. It also streamlines the Enphase Energy System by providing a pre-wired solution to connect the system's attributes, which simplifies the installation process.

    iQ System Controller 2 

    The IQ System Controller 2 connects the energy system to the power grid. It also provides a microgrid interconnection device (MID), which in the event of a grid failure, will automatically transition the home energy system from grid power to backup power.

    Enphase Energy System requirements
    Home energy goal Solar only Sunlight Backup Home essentials backup Full energy independence
    Enphase System components Enphase app, IQ8 microinverters, IQ Combiner 4/4C Enphase app, IQ8 microinverters, IQ Combiner 4/4C, IQ System Controller 2 Enphase app, IQ8 microinverters, IQ Combiner 4/4C, IQ System Controller 2, IQ Battery 3/3T, IQ Load Controller Enphase app, IQ8 microinverters, IQ Combiner 4/4C, IQ System Controller 2, IQ Battery 3/3T + 10/10T, IQ Load Controller

    Can Enphase microinverters pair with other solar batteries?

    Yes, the Enphase IQ8 Series microinverters are able to pair seamlessly with many other AC-coupled solar batteries such as the Tesla Powerwall and the sonnenCore

    So while Enphase’s IQ Batteries are a worthy solar storage solution, you can just as easily pair their microinverters with other great battery options.

    Do keep in mind, however, with the Enphase Energy System, you get the convenience offered by an all-in-one-system and the impressive management functions of the Enphase app. Other AC-coupled batteries like the Tesla Powerwall 2 are accompanied by remote app control features, but many are not of Enphase’s standard.

    Is Enphase the right fit for your solar storage needs?

    Enphase is one of the most trusted and reliable names in the solar industry. Since 2006, their focus has been on microinverter technology. With their dominance over the microinverter space, the introduction of the Enphase Energy System was only a matter of time. 

    But is their Enphase Energy System right for your specific energy needs?

    The Enphase Energy System provides a great opportunity for consumers to get their foot in the door of solar power storage. With Enphase’s products supplying an all-in-one solution, it is ideal for those who have just begun using solar power. The easy-to-follow installation process and integrated system means that the consumer is provided with a turnkey home energy solution.

    One downside is that the Enphase Energy System is pretty pricey, due, in large part, to all the additional equipment.

    Despite that, the Enphase Energy System is a lightweight system that is best suited for households of low-moderate power expenditure. And with Enphase’s modular battery design, the system's storage capacity can easily be increased, as your power needs increase or your family grows. The Enphase Energy System allows you to take charge of where your energy is being used, and gives you the confidence of knowing you won’t be left in the dark.

    Find nearby installers that specialize in solar battery backup systems

    Key takeaways

    • The Enphase Energy System facilitates all the requirements for solar energy storage and usage.
    • The Enphase Energy System combines solar generation, batteries, and software for a practical all-in-one system.
    • At the heart of the system is the IQ8 Series microinverters, and by using Sunlight Backup, you have the ability to power your home even without a battery.
    • Enphase’s IQ batteries are modular by design, so you can easily add additional storage if you need it.
    • The Energy System is more expensive than most other solar battery solutions on the market.
    • The Enphase Energy System is a great way for households to gain energy independence and to take control of your power usage.
     - Author of Solar Reviews

    Cameron Bates

    Blog Author

    Cameron is a business analyst and content specialist at SolarReviews.

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