Everything you need to know about Enphase microinverters and the IQ Battery
Now, if you’re somewhat interested in solar you’ve probably heard of Enphase. If you’re interested in high quality solar, then you should definitely have heard of Enphase micro inverter and Enphase IQ 5P battery.
Enphase is an American energy tech company that designs and manufactures quality solar energy products for both residential and commercial use.
Enphase product systems that are fully optimised meaning you are getting more energy, safer systems, fully visibility and battery storage. They even have the capability to scale your system allowing those with smaller budgets to invest, capture the savings then grow your Enphase system.
Pretty cool right?
The technology behind Enphase micro inverters is highly acclaimed. Yes, there is a big fuss about Enphase micro inverters so let’s break into them and see what the hype is about.
What I am trying to explain to you as a homeowner, is whether or not Enphase is going to be the right solution for your home. Each homeowner is different and therefore each product is going to work differently for you.
As a solar design engineer, it’s my job to ensure that homeowners are getting the correct system that’s tailored around budget, energy optimisation (maximise savings) and of course your roof size & shape.
Table Of Contents
What Are Enphase MicroInverters?
In the most simple terms, a Enphase microinverter is a tiny little inverter that is installed onto the backside of your solar panel. These inverters then have the ability to convert the sunlight that is hitting your solar panel, directly into safe AC energy which can be consumed by your home.
This then gives each solar panel in your system complete independence. Essentially, enphase micro inverters are a way for your system to generate more energy because, unlike string systems, each panel can work separately from the rest.
A normal inverter works by converting the DC energy generated from your panels into AC electricity. This is the same for a micro-inverter, however it just does this AC-DC conversion at the panel where it’s installed.
The benefits of this means your system is highly optimised from shading and performance issues. For example, if one solar panel goes down, the other will still maintain a high performance (unlike with string systems, if one panel goes down, the whole string of panels go with it).
On average, Enphase micro inverters can generate around 10% more energy overtime than a normal string system making them more efficient and higher performing.
How Do Enphase MicroInverters Work?
Enphase MicroInverters work similarly to regular inverters. They will convert the DC current your solar panels produce, into AC power which is used by your household or business for your appliances.
Going into more technical details, micro inverters work by converting sunlight into AC energy at the panel. This will then get fed through to the Enphase Envoy as a hub for energy distribution where it gets fed into your house for your electrical needs.
Due to the micro inverters converting sunlight into AC energy at the panel, you have the huge benefit of there being no DC running across your roof.
Why is this important? Well, normal string inverters require a long cable run of high voltage DC across your roof. This of course (if installed cheap or badly) increases the risk of fire.
The technology is more advanced and safer than PV string systems. However, it comes with a larger price tag which I will go into more details with shortly (and whether or not it’s worth your money).
Micro inverters are also able to increase the efficiency of panels, generating more power over time. Again this is a result of many different factors including the positioning, design and performance of each solar panel.
What Are The Benefits Of Microinverters?
Enphase Microinverters Help You Produce More Energy
Enphase micro inverters can help your solar system produce more energy by allowing each panel to operate individually.
Traditionally with string inverter systems, the power output of a solar system is limited to the worst performing panel. Enphase micro inverters will allow your system to produce more energy through individual panel optimisation.
They Give Each Panel Independence (No Shading Issues)
These little inverters reduce any shading issues which might limit the efficiency of your solar system.
When each of your solar panels are each fitted with one of Enphase micro inverters, each panel is responsible for its own power production, rather than the system as a whole.
That means, if debris (a leaf for example) were to obstruct/shade a single panel, the other panels in your system would still be able to generate energy as individual units, rather than your whole system taking a hit.
So to summarise, they allow you to overcome design issues like shading from trees, or dirt over time. This means that now many homeowners who thought they couldn’t get solar because of a shading issue during a certain time of day, can now get solar.
This Can Allow For A More Flexible Design
Because each of the panels fitted with these micro inverters are working independently, it allows homeowners and commercial users of solar to further customise their whole solar system’s design.
As a solar design engineer, it also makes our job much easier. It means we can design a system around you. You are in total control. You can tell us when you use the most energy and what your goals are, and we can design a system around you.
This allows us to place each panel in a unique design best suited to sun coverage and where you want to optimise to generate the most energy.
Additional panels can be added to the system to further increase energy production and ROI – something which can’t be done with systems utilising string PV inverters.
Enphase MicroInverters Are Safer on your roof
As I mentioned before, Enphase uses technology that is safer as they utilise only AC electricity converted by the micro inverters at the panel. This is the same electricity used inside of your home to power appliances.
High-voltage DC electricity is the main culprit in fires, so you can rest assured that by utilising micro inverter technology that your family, home or business are safer.
These awesome micro inverters instantly convert the DC energy generated by your solar panels into AC energy on the roof, unlike traditional systems that transfer DC energy usually across your building to a string inverter located a distance away from your solar panels.
So that means there will be no high voltage DC current running through your home or across your roof. That gives a lot more peace of mind especially when buying a system that is going to last 25+ years.
MicroInverters Can Give You Full Visibility Over Your System
Enphase MicroInverters are able to feed back data on the individual performance of each of your solar panels, direct to Enphase’s revolutionary Enlighten app. This allows you to constantly monitor and control the performance of each panel in your system.
If you notice that any panel is underperforming you are able to contact your installer or solar panel like LG or Sunpower for support or even a replacement.
What Is the Enphase IQ 5P Battery?
The IQ Battery 5P is an all-in-one AC-coupled system that combines power, reliability, simplicity, and safety. With a usable energy capacity of 5.0 kWh, it offers six built-in grid-forming microinverters rated at a continuous power of 3.84 kVA. This system not only provides backup capability but also enables installers to efficiently design the perfect system size according to customer requirements.
The system boasts a total usable energy capacity of 4.96 kWh and is equipped with six integrated grid-forming microinverters rated at 3.98 kVA. It offers backup capability and allows installers to easily customize the system size to cater to the specific requirements of both new and retrofit solar customers.
How does the Enphase battery work?
The Enphase battery is an AC battery and can be installed easily onto any existing system. It works by storing the energy that you generate during the day and distributing it when you need it most, e.g at night or in the mornings.
The Enphase AC Battery has a fantastic round trip efficiency of 96% which is close to its competitors, Sonnen and Tesla Powerwall 2.
You can go fully off-grid with this solar battery and it provides full backup power in case of an electricity shortage or grid cut. When you compare this to some of the batteries in the Australia market right now, Enphase batteries really give them all a run for their money.
Enphase Micro Inverters might be Wasted With Regular Panels
Right, well let’s start picking this apart. The truth is, Enphase micro inverters might not make much sense with normal solar panels. Don’t get me wrong, the technology is fantastic and can be used to overcome design issues such as shading or roof space.
However, Enphase micro-inverters only come with a 10 year warranty when installed with regular solar panels. So this means that if you’ve getting a large system with Jinko Tiger or N-Type panels, you will only get a 10 year warranty on your micro-inverters.
However, this doesn’t really matter because Enphase has suggested their micro inverters are long lasting and built to last 25+ years. To be honest, all of their products are extremely good and long lasting so I wouldn’t let this put me off.
For anyone who wants an optimised system, micro inverters will overcome design issues such as shading and roof space meaning you can design a system that is optimised around the sun, and your energy usage.
How does the Enphase IQ 5P Battery compare to other batteries?
The Enphase battery is really good actually. When you compare the performance of each of the most popular solar batteries (Tesla powerwall, Sonnen and LG Chem) they all come out as very similar in performance. The Enphase might work better in certain situations where you want to scale your battery system and pay less upfront.
Whereas, Tesla Powerwall or LG Chem might work best if you’re looking to eliminate your bills and take control of your power usage. Sonnen probably comes in when you’re looking to go off-grid or want an Australian/German made quality product.
I’d say these batteries are good, but there are also a lot of other batteries on the market like I mentioned above. Enphase needs to make a battery that uses advanced technology like their microinverters
Enphase Micro Inverters Are Amazing With AC Panels...
One area that Enphase micro inverters do shine is when they are combined with AC panels. Right now, there are only Sunpower panels that are partnered with Enphase to do this. The SunPower Maxeon 5 panels with Enphase Micro Inverters are extremely good panels.
This is a perfect example of when Enphase micro inverters are a fantastic and worthwhile solution. The reason is because both solar panel and micro inverter come with a 25 year product warranty. This means your investment is secure for 25 years.
Like I mentioned before, the point for investing in micro inverter technology is for a long lasting return on investment. The price can now be justified by the 25 year product warranty. For this, I’d happily say this is well worth your investment and if you are looking for a lifetime solar solution, this is your best option on the market.
It makes sense right?
Here I cannot fault Enphase and truly believe that these are one of the best solar panel solutions and technology you can invest in today.
Enphase Battery & Micro Inverters Are Good For Scaling Your System
Another area that is really useful is the availability to scale your Enphase solar panel and battery systems.
For example, let’s say you had a budget in mind that you buy you a 6kW system including 1 Enphase battery. You may invest in this for the time being, then with the savings you have generated invest further into more panels and a battery.
You can then scale your system to 9kW with 2 batteries. Having this flexibility is an awesome option for homeowners, especially those who want solar now but struggle with the upfront investment.
However, I will mention that this will provide a slower return on investment and also would require system designs planned around your future. It may require a solar design engineer to craft a bespoke system for you with consideration of your plans to scale.
Apart from that, this feature is impressive and made possible by the use of AC technology rather than DC. This means you can keep adding panels and batteries for as long as you need.
Enphase Micro Inverters Are Great For 3-Phase Homes
When Enphase micro inverters work really when are on 3 Phase homes. This is because they are much bigger and the strings or runs of normal inverters are made much harder. With the flexibility and design benefits these micro inverters shine through.
For anyone who is looking for a 3 phase system, Enphase is definitely a fantastic option for you. The micro inverters really allow you to design a system that is fully optimised and overcome any issues.
Enphase Battery Has A High Warranty & Safety Rating
Another area I wanted to quickly add is that the Enphase AC battery comes with a long lasting warranty. Actually, close to one of the best in the industry, giving Sonnen a good run for their money.
Again, Enphase uses LFP chemical make-up for their batteries meaning it’s extremely safe and long lasting. Their warranty is 10 years or 7,300 cycles at 80% consumption. This is pretty good as far as battery warranties goes and definitely justify your investment.
Enphase Is Best When Used As A Whole Solution…
Ok so one thing I would like to stress is that Enphase solutions are some of the best technology you can buy in the Australian market right now. Not only that, but the company was founded in America so you know that quality is going to be next to none.
If I were going to be completely honest though, I’d say that Enphase products are best when they are bought as an all-in-one system.
When you do buy Enphase as a fully optimised system, you will have one of the best solar solutions in the world in your home. The technology that they use is by far one of the most advanced and the benefits of using all Enphase are huge.
Not only that, but you’re going to see much bigger return on investments and be protected with the battery for black outs and off-grid capabilities. With the Enphase enlighten app you also have full visibility over your entire system.
The truth is, Enphase is one of the best in the market when bought as a whole system.
Difference Between MicroInverters & String Systems
In traditional string inverter systems, the whole power output of your system is limited to the production capability of the weakest performing unit, and if the central inverter system fails, production will cease immediately.
Because micro inverters work individually on each panel in your solar system, energy production can continue undisturbed if one MicroInverter or panel were to fail or have its production compromised by debris.
Are Enphase MicroInverters Worth Your Investment?
Enphase MicroInverters are definitely worth your investment, especially if flexibility and reliability are priorities for your solar system. Due to the higher efficiency they offer and their ability to better-keep a solar system running operationally, they will offer a better ROI in the long term and will last for 25+ years.
That’s not even to mention the safety benefits, better diagnostics and control, and the additional value it will add to your solar system – which is going to increase the value of the property it’s fitted to.
Now, for someone who faces shading issues, design issues or has a roof prone to risk of fire. The question shouldn’t even be considered if Enphase micro inverters are worth it for you. They should be the only thing you consider, alongside SolarEdge panel optimisers.
This is because you are going to need this to get the most out of solar. You need this technology to maximise your energy output and ensure that investing in solar is going to produce a good return on investment for you.
When Are These MicroInverters & Battery Best Suited For You?
MicroInverters are best suited to those who want to increase the ROI they receive from their solar systems, as well as those who simply wish to increase the efficiency of their system.
For a marginally more expensive setup cost, Enphase micro inverters offer a whole host of benefits, giving you greater peace of mind and confidence in switching over to solar energy.
If you’re looking for a fully optimised system where you can genuinely reduce your energy bills and maximise the energy you are generating, then Enphase is perfect for you.
If you’re just looking for a quick ROI system because you’re moving house in a year, then there isn’t much point. For those who are looking for a quality, genuine solar solution then this is when Enphase battery and micro inverters are best suited for you.
We covered a lot in this blog from Enphase battery to Enphase micro inverters. I hope that you now have a better understanding of the entire Enphase solution.
They are one of the best solar solutions you can buy on the Australian market and if you are serious about saving money then it’s best you consider something like Enphase.
If you have a system or you have questions, please ask away in the comments below. Anyone who has experience with Enphase please share your thoughts with everyone in the comments below 👇.
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