Overview of Enphase Energy Systems
Enphase Energy Systems provide flexible, modular solar solutions that allow homeowners to customize their solar power system to suit their solar + backup power needs.
The centerpiece of Enphase systems is their IQ series microinverters. These are small inverter modules which attach to the back of each solar panel, mitigating the impact of shading and enabling more flexible system sizing and layout options. And the latest innovation in the product line, the Enphase IQ8, is the first solution on the market to provide limited backup power, even without a battery bank.
Homeowners can easily mix and match their Enphase system components to gain more resilience against outages and meet their energy storage needs. On this page, we’ll compare the four types of Enphase energy systems and the benefits they offer homeowners.
Enphase Energy Systems: Common Configurations
All Enphase energy systems are built around the Enphase IQ series microinverters, which are paired with solar panels to generate energy for your home.
Out of the box, these systems help homeowners reduce their carbon footprint and save money on their energy bills. These types of systems offer the quickest solar payback period, but they don’t offer any backup power capabilities.
By adding other components, homeowners can add more features to their solar system. Here’s a brief comparison of the 4 types of Enphase energy systems.
Solar Only Systems
Enphase’s “Solar Only” kits are basic grid-tied solar kits that help homeowners reduce their monthly energy bills. These kits come with solar panels, Enphase IQ7 or IQ8 series microinverters, and racking materials to mount your system.
Every Enphase energy system offers system performance monitoring through the Enphase App. For Solar Only systems, the app gives live and historical performance data and charts. It can also monitor the output of each panel separately, alerting you if a panel has failed (and enabling the rest of the system to keep working independently).
Sunlight Backup Systems
The defining feature of the new IQ8 microinverters is that they are “grid-agnostic,” meaning they can provide limited backup power, even without a battery bank. As far as we know, these Sunlight Backup systems are the only solution on the market to offer backup without batteries.
Here’s how it works: your IQ8s create a local microgrid, which manages the energy coming from your panels. When the sun is out, this microgrid can power your appliances directly from solar, so there’s no need to send electricity to the utility grid and back again.
So what happens if there’s an outage? With a Sunlight Backup system, your IQ8 microgrid can continue to use any electricity that is being actively generated by your solar panels! So long as the sun is shining, you’ll still have some amount of backup power.
Sunlight Backup has some clear limitations. It only works when there's sunlight, so you won't have backup power at night, or during overcast weather. And the amount of power it provides scales with solar irradiance, or the strength of sunlight on your panels. At dawn and dusk, less sunlight means less available backup power.
However, none of this takes away from the fact that IQ8s give homeowners the only way to add limited backup power to their home without spending more on a dedicated battery bank.
Home Essentials Backup Systems
If you need to add 24-hour backup power with a reliable amount of storage, a Home Essentials Backup system is right for you. This type of system adds a battery bank, which can be composed of Enphase IQ 3 or IQ 10 Batteries in any configuration.
Home Essentials Backup systems are designed for partial home backup to keep “must-have” appliances running during an outage. You can decide which loads are essential, and mix and match Enphase batteries to suit your storage needs.
Choose this type of system if you’d like overnight backup power for common appliances like a fridge, lights, TV, internet, computers, phone chargers, and so on. The larger your battery bank, the more you can power during an outage.
Full Energy Independence Systems
While a Home Essentials Backup system is designed to get you through a night without power, a Full Energy Independence system provides whole home backup power that can get you through an extended outage.
For those who live in harsh climates, these types of systems can help you remain self-sufficient when there are prolonged power outages due to stormy weather.
Enphase energy systems are compatible with up to 40 kWh of storage, which can be achieved with a bank of four Enphase IQ 10 Batteries.
Customize your Enphase energy system.
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Enphase Energy System Components
Because your entire system is built with native Enphase components, it’s easy to expand your system for more storage and functionality. Here’s a brief overview of each component and the role it plays in the overall system.
Components of Solar Only Systems
IQ7 / IQ8 Series Microinverters
The central component of all Enphase energy systems. These microinverters pair with each panel to give greater control over your system.
Solar systems with microinverters help limit the impact of shading and allow for more flexible system design options. They also allow for easy system expansion, should you decide to add more panels or an energy storage system down the line.
Each solar panel pairs with its own microinverter, which are all wired into the IQ combiner box. The IQ combiner manages solar branch circuits, and is required for all system types. The IQ Gateway is included to communicate with the Enphase App.
Enphase energy systems are compatible with all traditional solar panels, including the 60/120-cell and 72/144-cell sizes commonly used in both residential and commercial solar installations. The size of your solar panel array determines how much energy you can produce.
Add-On Components for Solar + Backup Power Systems
IQ 3 / IQ 10 Battery
The IQ Battery provides on-site energy storage, adding round-the-clock battery backup to your solar power system. Comes in 3 and 10 kWh sizes (the IQ 3 and IQ 10, respectively). Both options can be mixed and matched to create the perfect size storage solution for your needs.
Enphase Energy Systems are limited to 40 kWh of storage on a single IQ System Controller.
IQ System Controller
An IQ System Controller is added to all battery-based systems. It is a “Microgrid Interconnect Device” that seamlessly detects outages and transitions the system to backup power.
The role of the IQ Controller is to safely disconnect from the grid and select a different AC power source when grid power isn’t available. This happens nearly instantaneously, so there’s no interruption to service when it makes the switch.
IQ Load Controller (Optional)
With limited backup power capacity, you’ll want to conserve energy for your most important appliances. You can likely go without some non-essential loads, like an air conditioner, EV charger, or dishwasher.
The IQ Load Controller allows you to group electrical loads on different circuits and control power to each circuit. By putting your key loads on one circuit, you can use the Enphase App to turn the rest off and conserve power in an outage. You can also configure the system to behave differently based on state of charge and the availability of a backup gas generator.