For Enphase enthusiasts, the arrival of Ensemble™ technology has been long-awaited, and can now be preordered! Ensemble is Enphase’s latest software technology which makes a solar+storage system “grid-agnostic”, that is, it works regardless of the utility grid’s working status. Enphase's energy solution has the best specs in the industry and should be worth the wait.
Realize that all solar systems must have “anti-islanding” capability so that they do not form unsuspecting “islands” or pockets of electricity on the grid should a failure occur. This is a safety requirement meant to protect linemen doing repairs so that they do not get electrocuted. So, when the utility grid shuts down, so must your solar system, and for many solar system owners, that requirement has given them a rude awakening such that when the grid did fail and they lost all power, their mighty solar system laid dormant and inoperable.
Enphase’s Ensemble will first debut in the company’s Encharge™ storage systems and will give customers true energy security and freedom. An Enphase energy system consists of solar panels equipped with Enphase IQ™ microinverters, Encharge storage, an Envoy™ communications gateway, and an Enpower™ smart switch. The Encharge 3.4kWh storage system has 4 and the Encharge 10.1kWh has 12 IQ8 microinverters, respectively, giving Enphase storage products a level of fault-tolerance that is unrivaled in the industry. Encharge storage added to an existing IQ6/7 solar system can give that system 100% microgrid capability, that is, it can work when the utility grid is down; the table below shows the Encharge configuration needed to make that happen; for example, an existing Enphase IQ solar system with up to 24 IQ7 microinverters would only need a single Encharge 10 to enable 100% of the existing system to have microgrid capability (see row #3, column #3).(Enphase Technical Brief — page 6 — “Planning an Enphase Ensemble Energy Management Technology System”)
The beauty of an Encharge storage system versus competitors is that with 3.4- and 10.1-kilowatt-hour storage “building blocks”, the level of refinement offered by Enphase gives installers and customers much more flexibility in designing an energy solution. This level of refinement does not exist with big storage box solutions. With this level of refinement, Enphase does not force the customer into buying unnecessary amounts of storage, and with their System Estimator tool, the customer can fine-tune their storage needs before contacting an installer.
The Encharge 3.4kWh storage has a level of fault-tolerance that competitor products don’t have; with Encharge; if an inverter failure occurs, the remaining integrated inverters will allow the storage product to continue operating. In fact, three of the four integrated IQ8 microinverters in an Encharge 3 can fail, and the product will still work. Encharge 10 will be comparable to three Encharge 3’s, so it will have twelve IQ8 microinverters.
In summary, Encharge storage is the beginning of something very great for Enphase. It is the best energy solution on the market, and it is superior to any centralized power topology since it has no single point of failure. An Enphase energy solution is the system to buy if you want safety, reliability, and longevity, and if you’re upgrading your existing system with Enphase's latest Ensemble technology, then you are adding huge value to it and getting microgrid capability that your solar PV system never had before.