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Questions to Ask Before You Buy a "Home Energy System"

Mar 02, 2020

In the last article “The Rise of Solar+Storage,”  home energy systems were discussed and how they’re gaining in popularity over solar system installations with no battery storage attached. Currently, about 25% of the installations are for a home energy system, that is, solar and storage combined as a single system.

Of course, deciding upon a system is not easy, so Enphase System Estimator is the online tool for customers to figure out what they’ll need for their “home energy system”. Once a configuration is decided upon, then it is time to go shopping. When purchasing a "home energy system”, here are five questions to ask before making that big decision:

1) Is the “home energy system” a single-vendor solution where I’ll only have to deal with a single vendor and not with multiple vendors should a problem arise with the system?

Enphase is the only vendor where all of its components (software, firmware, hardware, and communications) are designed, developed, maintained and warranted by a single company — Enphase Energy.

2) Does the “home energy system” have a single-point-of-failure in either the solar or battery system components, such that the whole system can become inoperable if a failure occurs?

It is critical to understand the difference between the two energy systems on the market today: a “home energy system” either has a single-point-of-failure or it doesn’t. If the “home energy system” contains a central string inverter, then it has a single-point-of-failure, for if that inverter fails, then the whole system is inoperable. Because an Enphase “home energy system” pairs each solar panel with its own microinverter, and each battery with multiple microinverters, in that respect there are no single points-of-failure. The failure of any microinverter does not affect the rest of the “energy system”, and basically, that is the difference between a crisis and an annoyance that needs to be addressed in one’s leisure.

3) Does the “energy system” contain any high-voltage DC components that can cause a fire?

Only a solar system with microinverters deals with low-voltage DC electricity. A high-voltage DC solar system always has an inherent safety hazard. Knowing whether your “home energy system” deals with low-voltage or high-voltage DC is very important. It is mind-boggling why people still have high-voltage DC solar systems on their home’s roof; is it really worth saving a few dollars versus having your home burn down due to a high-voltage DC arc fault?

4) Does the “energy system” provide the best response time, as well as “burst power” duration during that response time?

This is best exemplified by having an electronic digital clock, a home PC computer, or an internet router in the home when grid power goes down (brown-out, black-out). With an Enphase “home energy system”, these types of devices will not reset or shutdown when the power transfer occurs between the utility grid and the "home energy system", but for competitors, the homeowner will be left with a flashing digital clock, a home PC that has shut off, or an internet router that has reset. This fast response time and duration of power is the true superiority of an Enphase “home energy system”.

5) Does the “home energy system” boast the least amount of service required and the best product warranty?

If you compared Enphase warranty expenses to its competition, then you would see the devil in the details. Enphase has the best quality and warranty in the industry, and that is not just a lucky break. As voltage increases, so does the heat, and over time electronics will break down due to that heat. Because an Enphase microinverter only deals with low-voltage electricity, it can be given a 25-year warranty, but central string inverters offered by competitors only have 10 or 12-year warranties because they must constantly convert high-voltage, and therefore, breakdown more quickly over time.

In summary, there are a lot of “home energy systems” to choose from, but an educated buyer can make the best choice. Price comparison is not always the best criteria, considering the varying capabilities of the “home energy systems”, so it’s important to ask the questions above before making a purchase. As the owner of a 20,000-Watt Enphase Energy system since 2013, my system has been a model in the community, as well as to Peace River Electric utility which recommends Enphase to customers considering renewable energy. An Enphase “home energy system” is the solar+storage system of choice.

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