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Solar Backup Power - Solar Alternatives

Solar Backup Power: Enphase Encharge Review

With an ever-growing number of home and business owners investing in solar panel systems, owners often want to know how they can best optimize their system’s production and further reduce their reliance on the utility grid. One of the most common and in-demand system upgrades is the addition of a solar battery.

As the number of solar energy companies and storage products grows to meet demand, knowing which battery system would best suit a home or business can present a challenge.

This week, we take a look at the Enphase Encharge Battery System.

 

What is Enphase?

 

One of the leading names in solar inverter technology, Enphase designs and manufactures software-driven home energy solutions that span solar generation, home energy storage and web-based monitoring and control.

In 2019, the company unveiled the Encharge as its newest energy storage product.

 

Key Features

 

Similar to most other battery products, the Enphase Encharge requires installation with a new or existing solar energy system. Enphase describes its product as an “all-in-one AC-coupled storage system,” meaning that the system:

  • Converts solar energy into usable (AC) electricity, or back to (DC) storable energy
  • Stores energy during peak hours for use while the sun is down, saving customers money on utility bills
  • Sells excess energy back to the utility grid
  • Comes with a communication kit (as part of the Enphase Ensemble) with in-app energy monitoring and autonomous detection of grid outages
  • The Ensemble features the Enpower Smart Switch, which automatically toggles between solar, grid, battery, or generator power depending on the needs of the home
  • Enables the direct integration of generators for additional off-grid power
  • Requires no maintenance

 

In summary, the Encharge provides an all-in-one energy hub for your home, intelligently directing flows of energy to maximize your efficiency and safety.

 

Size

 

One of the many benefits of the Enphase Encharge Battery System is its availability in multiple size options. So, depending on the size of your home and the power that its appliances draw, Enphase provides you the flexibility to customize the size of your energy storage system.

  • Encharge 3
    • Power: 1.28 kW
    • Usable Capacity: 3.36 kWh
  • Encharge 10
    • Power: 3.84 kW
    • Usable Capacity: 10.08 kWh
Encharge 3 & Encharge 10 (from left to right)

The power of a battery determines the maximum amount of electricity that can be used at a single time, while usable capacity is a measure of the maximum amount of electricity from your battery on a full charge.

  • How long will a full charge last?
    • While having a backup battery system greatly lowers your reliance on the utility grid, no single battery will yield complete off-grid power for a home. Most single batteries will provide several hours’ worth of power. The Encharge 10 is large enough to serve as a temporary backup for a home during an outage. To be truly “off-grid,” though possible, would require the installation of multiple Encharge 10 batteries (typically 3).

 

Intelligence

 

One of the biggest advantages offered in an Enphase battery system is the Enpower Smart Switch, which streamlines both the on and off-grid capabilities of solar and storage. The Smart Switch provides microgrid interconnect device (MID) functionality by automatically detecting and transitioning the system from grid power to backup power in the event of a grid failure.

This allows the Enpower Smart Switch…

  • Control of safe connectivity to the grid via a storm guard
  • Time of use optimization (only drawing energy from the grid when energy prices are at their lowest)
  • Automatic detection of grid outages
  • Smooth transitions between power sources or to backup power during a grid outage

…all done so automatically.

 

Additionally, the Enpower Smart Switch supports generator integration, allowing customers to seamlessly hook up isolated power sources into their homes’ solar and storage systems.

In other words, Enpower Smart Switch acts as a cloud-based control center over all potential energy sources in a home—not just the solar and battery.

Encharge’s cloud-based system

 

Performance

 

The LFP battery (lithium iron phosphate) is one of the highest performing, yet safest battery technologies on the market. It consists of a distributed set of IQ8 inverters. If one of these inverters were to fail, the battery would only reduce its power output (from about 100% to 92%), a huge benefit over its competitors. Inverter failures in other batteries result in a complete loss of power output for that battery. Though inverter failures are rare, an Enphase Encharge carries significantly lower risk of power loss.

Customers can also closely monitor the performance of an Enphase system with the Enlighten mobile app. The app provides real-time data to help manage energy consumption and production, all in the palm of your hand. During a grid outage, it even allows customers to choose the appliances they would like to keep powered. This ensures the protection of the assets most valuable to each customer during a grid outage caused by a storm or extreme weather event.

Enphase MyEnlighten App

 

Reliability

 

Enphase storage is the result of generations worth of research, design, development and product testing. Enphase Encharge products are designed to offer no single point of failure. The have silent passive cooling systems and are resistant to extreme temperatures and humidity via semiconductor technology.

An Enphase warranty fully covers an Encharge for 10 years. The warranty guarantees over 4,000 recharge cycles, and that at the battery will maintain at least 70% of its capacity to hold a charge.

Enphase prides itself on producing some of the most reliable products on the market.

 

The Bottom Line

 

Though it carries a slightly higher price tag than some of its competitors, the Enphase Encharge boasts premium reliability, warranty, and customization options. The gradient power control offered with Ensemble along with an advanced monitoring system allows for an all-in-one smart energy solution to give you full yet effortless control over your home’s energy.


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