What is the New Enphase Ensemble?
Enphase Energy has a vision of a completely solar-powered planet, and they are working to realize this vision with their solar energy products. Their three guiding commitments are innovation, quality, and responsibility, which certainly show through in their Ensemble line.
Unlike other hybrid battery backup systems that are always reliant on the local power grid, the Ensemble components all work together to create a truly independent individual microgrid for your home so you can still generate energy even during grid outages.
In this article, we’ll take an in-depth look at the latest Enphase Ensemble technology, including how it works, the various components, the benefits of the system, and how much it costs.
How Does The Enphase Ensemble Work?
The Enphase Ensemble is a family of technology that is designed for either whole-home or partial-home solar energy storage and backup in the case of a grid failure.
The system includes the Encharge 10 or Encharge 3 storage systems (or a combination of both), the Empower smart switch, the Enlighten cloud monitoring platform, and the Envoy combiner. The system is designed to be used with any of the Enphase IQ series of microinverters.
All of these components work together to provide you with instant seamless backup electricity from your grid-tied solar energy system when the grid experiences a grid failure. As we mentioned above, this system is unlike other traditional grid-tied solar energy battery backup systems in that it will still produce energy to power your home even when the grid is down. If there is excess energy being produced beyond what your system is using, the excess will go to the storage system for later use.
What Makes The Enphase Ensemble Different?
The Enphase Ensemble is an amazing option for those who are planning to install a completely new solar energy system as well as for those who already own a solar energy system that uses any of Enphase’s IQ series of microinverters since they can easily handle the addition of the entire Ensemble system.
Unlike the LG Chem, you are not required to get any kind of certification to purchase or install the Ensemble system. The system requires little to no maintenance, is simple to install, and easy to monitor, and it works out to be less expensive over the lifetime of your solar energy system than many other hybrid and off-grid battery backup systems.
Is The Enphase Ensemble Reliable?
The Enphase Ensemble is very reliable since it is the first truly grid-independent solar energy battery backup system. It is the result of over 10 years of research and development and more than 300 patents. The monitoring system allows you to see exactly how much energy you are harvesting from your solar energy system and you can even control the system using existing home technologies like Alexa.
By its very nature, the Ensemble is more reliable than other backup battery systems on the market today. Other available systems are hybrids, which means they are partially grid-reliant. With those, when the grid goes down, your ability to produce more power via your solar panels is cut off to prevent your home from becoming an “island” of energy in the grid, which could potentially injure a technician who attempts to fix the grid outage.
So in that case, you are limited to only the energy that was stored in your battery at the time the outage began, which is a best-case scenario that may offer you 10-12 hours worth of energy. Grid outages may last several days, so your expensive investment in a grid-reliant battery backup system may leave you in the same powerless boat as your neighbors within less than a day, which can be very frustrating and even potentially dangerous.
With the Ensemble system in place, your solar panels will generate energy whether the grid is working normally or experiencing an outage. While the grid is working, the IQ series microinverters work the same as a typical grid-tied solar energy system.
When the grid goes down, the Enpower smart switch will detect it immediately and instantly form its own grid instead with the other Ensemble components. You won’t even be able to detect a flicker in your lights as the Ensemble takes over. When the grid comes back on, the smart switch will detect it and switch back over to grid-tied operation.
The amount of electricity generated will depend on the size of your solar array and the weather, and the isolated grid may not be able to keep up with absolutely all of your power needs – for instance, you probably won’t be able to run a vacuum cleaner. However, if your solar array and battery storage capacity is sized correctly, you will be able to run your household basics for the duration of the grid outage.
Encharge 10 vs Encharge 3 Storage System
The Encharge battery storage system is a reliable, simple, and safe way to back up your home with electricity even during a grid outage. The Encharge 10 is actually just three Encharge 3 units put together in a larger water-tight cover, and it obviously provides three times the amount of capacity as the Encharge 3.
Both come with a 10-year limited warranty. They utilize passive cooling techniques, which means there are no fans or moving parts to break. Encharge units are simple to install since they are essentially plug-and-play and they can interconnect effortlessly with standard household AC wiring. You can combine multiple Encharge units to maximize your energy storage and provide backup for your entire home.
The Encharge 10 has 10.5 kWh of total capacity and 10.08 kWh of usable capacity. It measures about 42 by 26 by 12.5 inches and weighs 346 pounds.
The Encharge 3 has 3.5 kWh of total capacity and 3.36 kWh of usable capacity. It measures about 14.5 by 26 by 12.5 inches and weighs 114.6 pounds.
What Does The Enpower Smart Switch Do?
The Enpower smart switch is the component that is responsible for making the change between functioning as a grid-tied system and isolating your home microgrid by detecting a lack of grid power. It works automatically and instantly to keep continuous power flowing to your home without causing any potentially dangerous situations on the grid.
The Ensemble is indeed compatible with the full line of IQ6 and IQ7 series microinverters, and it will be compatible with IQ8 which is set to be released later this year. This makes it easy to retrofit existing systems with the whole Ensemble upgrade.
The total cost of the installation will vary based on how much battery capacity you need as well as whether you already have solar panels installed. As far as the individual components go, the Enpower smart switch sells for about $3,600, the Encharge 3 is about $7,000, the Encharge 10 is about $11,000, and the Envoy combiner box is about $1,800.
However, if you do not already have solar panels, you may be looking at another $10,000-$15,000. On top of that, if you hire a professional to install your system, you will need to pay labor and installation costs, which can vary greatly depending on your system size and the installation site.
The best way to find out how much the entire installation will cost is to sign-up for a free consultation with an experienced consultant.
When you search online, you are most likely only seeing the prices for the components on their own, which does not account for solar panels or installation costs as we mentioned above.
The overall price will also be higher if you need a professional to analyze your site, size your system, and acquire all the necessary plans and permits. While DIY systems are possible, it takes a lot of work, multiple people, and working around dangerous electricity to complete the job. We do not recommend DIY solar installs.
Enlighten Mobile App Review
The Enlighten mobile app makes managing your solar energy system simple and intuitive. Since the main function of the Ensemble (namely, switching to a grid-independent microgrid function during outages) is automated, you can have peace of mind knowing that you don’t need to constantly monitor and attend to your solar energy system. You can control the system with Alexa for even easier handling, although the app is intuitive and user-friendly.
An explainer video for the latest MyEnlighten App. With MyEnlighten, you can track your solar production, monitor their system’s health, and share their data with friends.
Enphase Ensemble Warranty
Various components of the Ensemble have different warranties. The Encharge battery storage system and the Enpower smart switch come with a 10-year limited warranty and all IQ microinverters come with a 25-year limited warranty.
All batteries eventually suffer from diminishing capacity over time and need to be replaced, but the Encharge batteries are guaranteed to retain at least 70% of their original capacity after 10 years or 4,000 charge cycles, whichever comes first.