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Video: What is a kilowatt hour?

Feb 27, 2019

Video: What is a kilowatt hour?

We’ve put together a short video to answer a question we get all the time: What is a kilowatt hour? And how is it different from a kilowatt? You probably notice on your electricity bill each month that you’re billed for kWh (kilowatt hours), so knowing what they are and how they’re calculated can help you have more control over your energy usage.

This video helps visualize what a kWh is, and how you can pay attention to your own electricity usage to keep your kWh -- and electricity bills -- low each month.

 

This video is part of our new homeowner video series. You can take a look at the full series at enphase.com/homeownervideos, where we’ll continue to post new videos.

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Introducing the Solar Bill of Rights

Feb 25, 2019

Introducing the Solar Bill of Rights

Last Tuesday, homeowners and solar consumers, businesses, and workers joined California State Senators Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) and Jim Nielsen (R-Red Bluff) at the State Capitol to introduce SB-288, also known as the “Solar Bill of Rights.”

The Solar Bill of Rights is bipartisan legislation that protects the rights of all consumers to invest in, generate, and store their own energy from the sun and other sources of renewable energy.

So, what does the the Solar Bill of Rights mean for consumers? It guarantees:

+ The right to make and store solar energy on your property without interference from the utility

+ The right to connect your solar and storage to the grid quickly, without utility red tape

+ Freedom from discriminatory fees and charges associated with installing solar and storage technologies

“To meet our 100% renewable energy goal, we must make it easier for individuals, businesses, nonprofits and public agencies to generate their own renewable energy,” said Senator Wiener. “This legislation is about ensuring that we all have access to the benefits of solar and other sources of renewable energy.”


Want to learn more?

See footage of the event or read more about the Solar Bill of Rights and the Solar Rights Alliance.

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Jamaica’s Prime Minister Goes Solar With Enphase

Nov 15, 2018

Jamaica’s Prime Minister Goes Solar With Enphase

Jamaica’s Prime Minister, Andrew Holness, has a bold vision for his country: he wants Jamaica to reach 50% renewable energy by 2030. 

Even though they produce a negligible amount of the world’s greenhouse gases, he knows that Small Island Developing States (SIDS) like Jamaica are particularly vulnerable to changes in the energy economy. As such, Prime Minister Holness is committed to making Jamaica “energy secure” by investing in renewable sources like solar and wind.

As part of his commitment to transforming the energy landscape of Jamaica, Prime Minister Holness has commissioned a state-of-the-art solar array for his own Office of the Prime Minister building in Kingston, Jamaica. The system, which was completed last month, was built with Enphase Microinverters and Solaria PowerXT solar panels.

This initiative is in partnership with Solar Head of State, an NGO that works internationally and has completed similar projects in St. Lucia and the Maldives, commissioning solar arrays on prominent government buildings. Envisage Energy, headquarted in Kingston, Jamaica, was the constructor for the project, and Solar Island Energy (SIE) was the Engineer-of-Record, QAQC Inspector, and Construction Manager.

Enphase is proud to be included in the project and participating in the growing movement toward energy independence.



 

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We heard you: We’ve improved our customer support and the results are in.

Jul 19, 2018

We heard you: We’ve improved our customer support and the results are in.

Wait times are down to two minutes on average

If you have called in recently, we hope you noticed that wait times are down to two minutes on average, and sometimes even less. In fact, average wait time has decreased 80 percent – from 10 minutes to 2 minutes.
 
“I want to thank Enphase for the new and improved customer support service. The wait times and support call issues appear to be a thing of the past and calling for technical support is actually an enjoyable experience now. We especially appreciate that Enphase now takes calls directly from our customers, since Enphase is still the best at explaining the inner workings and features of the MyEnlighten platform.” - Brian Miller, president of Professional Electrical Services, Inc.

Positive feedback is up

Our philosophy is to measure what matters, and we think customer experience matters. One of the key metrics we use to measure customer experience is the Net Promoter Score, which gauges customer loyalty.
 
Our Net Promoter Score has gone from -28% to 44%. Negative 28 percent was bad. Forty-four percent is not perfect. But we think that a 257 percent improvement is progress in the right direction.
Infographhic: 2575 improvement in customer support experience

We’ve also launched new online support content to address common questions, such as a step-by-step troubleshooting guide to help customers get their Envoy online if it loses connection to the internet. And we measure your feedback on these new initiatives to make sure that they’re effective. For example, the approval rating of our Envoy support content went from 40% to 87% after we launched the troubleshooting guide. Those are the types of numbers we like to see. And we especially appreciate it when our customers take notice:

"Synergy has been a big fan and loyal Enphase customer since we started using them exclusively seven years ago. Enphase’s technology and tools help us better serve our customers and make us more competitive. Enphase’s support continues to improve and it’s clear how far ahead of other manufactures they are. I could not be happier with the products, service, support, and software we receive from Enphase.” - Jeff Mathias, co-owner of Synergy Solar


New self-service tools are gaining traction

We’ve improved our online, self-service support tools to help installers and homeowners find answers faster. Last month, we launched Service-on-the-Go, which installers can use from their mobile device to get service, instantly. Many of our customers are taking advantage of these new, time-saving tools:
 

“Southern California is an extremely competitive marketplace for solar, and Enphase's Service-on-the-Go has been a game changer for us in terms of customer service. We take great pride in being customer service-centric and expect the same level of efficiency and speed from our partners. The ability to file a warranty claim and manage the replacement online is a perfect example of something that makes us more efficient and faster and reflects an important alignment of values between Solar Optimum and Enphase." - Arno Aghamalian, president and CEO of Solar Optimum

Our online support center has also seen dramatic increases in sessions, page views and users in the past year, and we’re happy to see you taking advantage of this resource:

Graph: Support center activity up 145%


How we got there

Our goal is to match the effort we make to build premium products with the effort to provide a premium customer experience. They belong together. We’ve invested extensively in customer support over the past year. We’ve hired new team members, changed scheduling to meet peak demand, provided more online self-service tools for installers and now host more educational webinars than ever before.

We have also improved customer support by:

  • Launching Service Manager, an online tool that makes it easy for installers to create and manage support requests and file a warranty claim
  • Introducing mobile tools like Service-on-the-Go so installers can replace a device from anywhere
  • Publishing tutorials for common support issues, like how to reset an Envoy after the Internet connection is dropped (due to weather, a power outage or some other Internet issue)
  • Implementing new features like support callback, which literally limits the time spent waiting on the phone

You can see our work in action by checking out our online support center or contacting customer support directly. Our commitment to service is incredibly important to us, and we value the opportunity to provide you with exceptional customer care.

 

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Partnering for Good: Enphase and GRID Alternatives

Jul 11, 2018

In fact, just last month, GRID Alternatives celebrated a huge milestone: 10,000 low-income California families served with solar. So we thought now would be the perfect time to share a little more about GRID and our partnership.


What is GRID Alternatives?

GRID Alternatives is the nation’s largest nonprofit solar installer. They do great work across the United States handling solar installations and providing job training in low-income communities. They’re a stellar organization with an important mission — and we’re proud to say that we’ve renewed our partnership to help them power our nation’s low-income communities.


What does our partnership with GRID mean?

It means Enphase is donating the capacity for 4.3 megawatts of new solar — enough to serve about 1,150 families. It means offsetting $40 million in energy costs over the lifetimes of the systems, while preventing 82,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions. It means low-income housing providers can redirect the money they’d need for infrastructure to instead provide more services for their residents. And it means we’re thrilled that Enphase is able to play a small role in making it all happen.

One of the most recent examples of how important this partnership has been is the Alegria Apartments in Los Angeles. The affordable housing development’s new 35kW solar system will open up $9,000 per year for affordable housing nonprofit Esperanza Community Housing to continue serving its residents. As Tim Sears, co-founder of GRID said: “As GRID's reach and impact have grown over the years, so has Enphase's support, helping more and more communities benefit from solar energy.”

Thanks to a great team here at Enphase and a great group over at GRID, we’re proud of the work that’s already been done, and excited for all the good work to come.


More about GRID Alternatives

GRID Alternatives provides solar to low-income communities at no cost to the recipients — and they do it on both big and small scales. They help individual homeowners who qualify as low-income to install residential solar on their single-family home, and they work with affordable housing developers to install residential solar systems on their multi-family developments.

They go beyond just providing solar installation services — they also provide hands-on job training for people in low-income communities. By partnering with local solar installation companies, they’re able to improve the sustainability of a community, in terms of both environment and economy.


Get Solar with GRID

If you live in or are part of a low-income community, see if you qualify for a GRID Alternatives installation.

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Understanding Your Electricity Bill

Jun 05, 2018

Understanding Your Electricity Bill

That can go a long way to helping you manage your home energy spending, and even how you may be able to stop wasting electricity and save money. Plus, if you ever have to dispute a bill, it’s helpful to know what you’re actually talking about when you call your utility.

Only 17% of utility customers feel that they have a very good understanding of their bill.

And 30% of utility customers think they have a poor understanding. So in case you fall in this group, we want to help you read your utility bill better, and make the most of your energy usage and budget.


Terms and definitions

Let’s start by breaking down some of the key terms you’ll see on your bill — both what they mean, and why they matter.


Watt: The measure of power.

Simply put, this is how power is measured. But (keep on reading), it’s not exactly what you’re paying for.


Energy: The use of power over time.

Your wattage use over time is what you’re actually charged for. A 100-watt light bulb pulls 100 watts immediately when you turn it on — and keeps using 100 watts for as long as you use it. If you use it for two hours, you’ll use 200 watt-hours. (Want to know more about the difference between a watt and a watt-hour? We've got you covered.)


Kwh: Kilowatt hours.

To make the math just a bit more challenging, the utility company converts all energy into kilowatt hours (kwh). So, 200 watt hours gets converted to 0.2kwh. On your bill, the total energy you’re being charged for is shown in kwh.


TOU (Time-of-Use): Time of day the power is used.

The time of day that you use energy is often as important as how much energy you use. That’s because many utilities charge “peak” rates — usually afternoon to early evening in most places, when energy consumption is at its highest and power plants have to work harder — and “off-peak” rates, when usage is generally lower.

In some states, like California, there are three time periods: off-peak, partial-peak, and peak. Depending on both time of day and time of year, your time of use will be charged based on your time of use. To save money, try to move some of your energy-using activities to the morning or early afternoon, like running the dishwasher before you leave for work, using the washing machine during your lunch hour, etc.


Rate Schedule or Tariff: The list or outline of rates your utility company charges for each type of energy usage.

Your bill will list the exact name or category of your rate schedule, so you can see how much you've been billed for each type of energy usage. If your rate schedule is not included with your bill, you can look up the rate schedule on your utility company’s website.


Baseline Territory: The service area that your home is part of.

Utility companies divide up the territories it covers into what are called “baseline territories” — and they name them with a simple code to keep them straight… as they all have slightly different rates and regulations.


Distribution & Meter Charges: Fees charged by the utility to support delivery of your energy.

Did you know you’re charged a set of monthly fees to cover all the delivery and infrastructure costs? These costs include everything from a portion of the fees required to keep the utility company and equipment up and running, all the way to charging “rent” on your home’s energy meter.


Net Metering or NEM (Net Energy Metering): The utility’s way of giving you credit for over-generation of energy you produce yourself (like solar energy).

If you produce your own energy (for example, with the Enphase Home Energy Solution), your utility may offer you credits for any energy you transfer back to the grid. This policy is called Net Metering, or NEM, and it will factor into the final total charges for your utility bill. NEM policies vary by state, but there are plenty of resources to help you find out what the policy is in your area.


So what are you paying?

Now that we know the terms, let’s look deeper and see what the utility company actually charges you for. In the simplest of terms, your utility company charges you for the cost of delivering energy to you. That means every part of the cost, including:

1.  Your energy usage in kilowatt hours
2.  Distribution fees

And they charge you for that usage by asking:

1.  When you used the energy (peak vs. off-peak)
2.  What your rate is based on territory and rate schedule

Then, they factor in any credits you should get from net energy metering charges, if you generate any of your own electricity with solar or other renewable energy sources.

Then, finally, they tally it all up and give you a big “total due”. Of course, that’s the big number with a $ in front at the top of the bill. But, if you’ve gotten this far, you know it’s just one little part of a bigger picture.


What if you have solar?

If you don't generate any of your own energy using renewable resources (like solar), you pay the full retail value for all the energy you use. But if you do generate your own energy, you only pay retail value for the energy you don't produce yourself. So, if you use more than your system can produce, or if you use power when the sun isn't out, you will be charged by the utility for that power. (Unless, of course, your system has storage!)

For Enphase customers that have energy usage monitoring, you can log on to MyEnlighten to see how your energy production compares to what the utility company is giving you credit for. If it doesn’t line up, check here for some tips that might explain the difference.

Still have questions about your electrical bill? Join one of our upcoming live learning sessions.

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Safety First for Firefighters and Your Home

Apr 02, 2018

Safety First for Firefighters and Your Home

It’s not an exaggeration – our firefighters are our local heroes. We rely on them in countless emergency situations: house and bush fires, road crash rescues, storms and natural disasters, and even missing persons and forensic searches.

However, in our day-to-day routines, hardly any of us realise that without our firefighters, we’d be in grave danger. They guarantee our safety that we take for granted.

Now, we are not suggesting that Enphase Microinverters have the same level of importance as a firefighter. Yet, in their own right – they actually do. And here is why: Enphase Microinverters are safe AC pieces of electronic equipment. Day in and day out, Enphase Microinverters tirelessly deliver clean and green energy to your home to power your fridge, washing machine, air-conditioner, or heating device. Enphase Microinverters really are just like appliances inside your home – they work, and they are safe.

Enphase Microinverters run at a maximum of 60 Volts, making the chances of an electrical shock close to zero. With Enphase Microinverters, there will never be high voltage on your roof, that you could have with conventional string inverter systems. In addition, string inverter systems require DC isolator switches to be installed as a safety measure to protect from high voltage DC. However, multiple news reports link DC isolators of those conventional string inverters to overheating incidents and risk of fire. Numerous recalls of DC isolators have been made over the past few years.

So, be safe and install Enphase. It’s as simple as that. And that’s exactly what 22 fire stations of the rural fire brigade in and around Toowoomba in Queensland have done. Each station is now the proud owner of an Enphase Microinverter System on its roof to harvest clean energy from the sun in the safest possible way. The four main reasons why the rural fire brigade chose Enphase Microinverters over any other system are pretty obvious.  They wanted:

  1. The safest system due to its all-AC architecture
  2. The highest quality system due to components tested in the harshest climates
  3. The best value system that maximises self-consumption and leads to great savings on quarterly electricity bills
  4. The smartest system due to online monitoring and fleet management of all 22 systems on a single platform

According to Tim Chittenden, acting Superintendent and Regional Manager of Rural Fire Services, Queensland, this is exactly what they got:

‘Rural Fire Service across Darling Downs Area has undertaken a commitment to not only reduce our costs for local volunteer Rural Fire Brigade but also ensure we are being responsible community members and working to reduce our environmental impact. RFS looked around for a reliable safe and highly productive solar system to meet our needs of reducing cost while doing our bit for the environment.  The Enphase system has achieved this result and we are already seeing excellent benefits from the systems with brigades producing more power than we are using. The use of microinverters with each panel has ensured we will have a long lasting low maintenance system which has the highest safety standards.’

So, let Enphase Microinverters also be your little heroes in your quest for safer solar.

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The Rise of Solar, the Fall of Solar Pricing

Feb 12, 2018

The Rise of Solar, the Fall of Solar Pricing

Today, people everywhere are realizing that going solar is the best financial decision they can make for their energy consumption.


See how solar prices have dropped since 1998 - icon - data down

See how solar prices have dropped since 1998

This timeline is a bird’s eye view at how prices have dropped, and what’s made it happen. For our example, we’re using an average residential home in the U.S. that needs a 6,000-watt solar setup installed on their house — and we’ll see how much it would cost to get it.

See how solar prices have dropped since 1998

2005 — With a new federal Solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) enacted by the Energy Policy Act of 2005, suddenly consumers can enjoy the combination of lowering prices with added savings by deducting 30% of the installation costs on federal tax returns.

2006 — The combination of a recession and a silicon shortage force prices to stabilize for a few years.

2008 — An extension to the ITC prompts another round of interest in solar, and increased demand begins leading pricing decline.

2010 — Increased demand, leaps in technology, and tax incentives keep driving prices down.

2015 — Congress approves another extension to the ITC, so the 30% tax credit can be used through 2019.

Source: Source: Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory


What about the new solar tariffs

What about the new solar tariffs?

You may have seen the recent news about solar tariffs that are impacting the cost of imported solar panels. Industry experts estimate that these changes may increase the system cost for homeowners by $500 to $1,000, depending on where you live. (The increase is about $350 to $700 if you take the 30% federal tax credit.) However, even with these temporary increases, the cost of solar has still fallen nearly 80% in the past 20 years.


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Now’s the time.

With the 30% tax credit scheduled to expire in 2019, you can’t count on an extension again to keep prices near rock-bottom. Make the move today to get solar and start enjoying the rewards of clean energy and the lowest prices ever.


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Keep Your Home Safe with Safe Solar

Jun 30, 2017

Keep Your Home Safe with Safe Solar

Over a hundred years ago, Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla were the generals in what was then called ‘The War of the Currents’. Tesla championed AC electricity, and Edison did the same for direct current (DC) electricity. When the dust settled on a battlefield that saw everything from intellectual property to political maneuvering, Tesla was left standing and safe, low-voltage AC power became the gold standard for homes and businesses. Yet, when homeowners are considering rooftop solar or home energy storage once again face the decision between AC and DC systems.



AC power’s historical advantage

AC power and DC power both move energy through a circuit. Not unlike water in a garden hose, when you disconnect the hose from the spigot, water stops flowing. In AC power systems, current cycles between positive and negative values; they alternate. In DC systems, current is fixed at a constant positive value, hence ‘direct’ current. So why are most modern homes served by AC power?



Thomas Edison, the DC power proponent, believed that neighborhoods would use energy from small generators located close to those neighborhoods. Nikola Tesla, the AC power proponent envisioned a system in which large, centralized generators would send out energy through long transmission lines. George Westinghouse, the father of the modern electric grid, opted for Tesla’s AC system, and the rest was history.



Why AC systems are safer

Homeowners use a different set of criteria than electric companies do when comparing the merits of AC and DC power systems. But if safety is the key consideration, AC power wins again. Here’s why.



DC power systems are higher voltage and have to be closely monitored for arc faults, which pose significant risk of fire and bodily injury. Even the smallest equipment failure, such as a damaged cable or a loose electrical connection, can generate an arc fault. Once an arc fault is triggered, it can be difficult to stop because voltage in DC systems is constant, and you have to be able to interrupt the circuit or the arcing will continue.



In an AC power system, voltage continually passes zero as current cycles between positive and negative values, making it possible to virtually eliminate the risk of an arc fault.

Rooftop solar systems using DC power also tend to rely on hazardous high voltage to move energy from a full array of solar panels to a centralized string inverter, while AC power systems like the Enphase Microinverter System always operate at low voltage. That is a safety feature from which solar installers, homeowners, first responders, and utility workers all benefit.

Safety is Important



It’s important to be able to trust that friends and family will be safe around the products you bring into your home, including rooftop solar and energy storage systems. By choosing an AC system, you’re as safe as with any quality home appliance introduced in the last hundred years or so. In the War of the Currents, AC electricity won the day for households because of safety and reliability. There is no reason for homeowners to fight this war again on their rooftops, and introduce unnecessary risk. Our advice: Stay safe and keep it AC.

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