Enphase, the leading manufacturer of microinverters, has started training dealers for its upcoming Ensemble battery system. This is an exciting new entrant to the budding Lithium battery industry for use in homes. Enphase has a unique approach that improves reliability, serviceability, design, and monitoring capabilities.
In Southwest Florida we are mainly concerned with battery backup. The Enphase battery will fit that need, but also has future potential for load shifting (for time-of-use metering) and for fully off-grid operation. The backup function of the battery system steps in when the utility grid goes down. The length of time you can remain independent depends on many factors, including:
- How many batteries you install.
- What loads you want to power.
- How long you want to power your loads.
- How much solar energy you have available to recharge batteries.
- Whether you have a backup alternative like a generator.
Redundancy is Key
Enphase is taking a page from its redundancy advantages used for its solar panel inverters. In a microinverter solar electricity system, each solar panel has its own electronics to convert DC solar power to usable AC power in the house. In an Enphase battery system, each battery has multiple microinverters that keep the battery running even if one microinverter fails to function properly. This redundancy advantage is an absolute game changer and is perfectly suited for mission-critical battery backup needs.
In fact, the larger Encharge 10 battery will come with twelve microinverters. And any faulty units down the road are hot-swappable.
Building On The Platform
The Ensemble system isn’t just a battery. The platform relies on a smart switch that acts as a utility transfer switch, seamlessly transferring and isolating power from the grid to batteries. The smart switch can handle a typical whole home or just critical loads, depending on how many batteries you plan to install. The platform is controlled by the Existing IQ Envoy data monitor, which “talks” to all system components to ensure seamless and reliable operation.
Finally, the system is backward compatible with Enphase’s entire IQ lineup of solar microinverters, That means older IQ6 systems, current IQ7 systems, and soon-to-come IQ8 systems will be compatible with this new battery technology. In fact, the battery comes with the new IQ8 microinverters pre-installed. This new generation of solar microinverter will be release for solar panel installations at a later date, but the current IQ7 is fully compatible.
Unfortunately, older M-Series microinverters will not be compatible with this battery system, but most M-Series system can be upgraded at a reasonable cost.
Are We Ready For Battery Tech In Florida?
We have been reluctant to offer battery backup systems to our Florida clients. Batteries are still expensive, and we are not sure where Enphase will fall into the marketplace. It will surely be a premium option, but worth the price relative to competitors (just like their solar microinverters).
The reason residential batteries are taking off is really about load shifting and time-of-use benefits in other states. Those benefits don’t apply to Florida since residential customers aren’t penalized for these energy use factors. However, battery backup is a compelling reason to install solar panels that many people ask about.
Is the time right for battery backup in Florida? We should know soon as pricing becomes available and consumer demand sets the tone for the market. We will be looking for early adopters, but this could be the system that breaks the market wide open… Exciting times!!!