Energy storage system installations have skyrocketed throughout the country over the last few years. Residential installs increased 500 percent from 2017 to 2018! Several companies are introducing batteries to help meet this increased demand, creating a crowded field of products to choose from.
To help you sift through the numerous options, EnergySage is interviewing storage manufacturers to learn more about their product offerings and company. This week, Enphase, the leading microinverter manufacturer, launched a brand new storage product: the Encharge system. We sat down with Enphase to learn more about their new entrant into the residential energy storage market.
[EnergySage] How and when did Enphase make the transition into manufacturing batteries and energy storage systems?
[Enphase] The co-founders of Enphase Energy realized early on that only the storage systems which integrate energy generation, storage, and management in a system designed, manufactured, and supported by a single company will deliver the level of reliability, safety, and power that homeowners expect and deserve. Rather than the hassle that comes from products and warranties from several vendors, the Enphase all-in-one approach to solar+storage ensures that homeowners get the reliability, safety, and power they would expect from a major home utility system.
With Enphase storage systems, you get:
Safe – We started with safety when we designed Enphase storage, between our AC-coupled architecture and choice of battery chemistry. We selected the safest residential battery chemistry available since that's what we'd want in our homes.
Powerful – Start small, go big, or grow over time – with Enphase storage, you're in control of your energy, and that's a powerful thing. Whether you want to manage your entire system from a single app or leave it on autopilot using Storm Guard, the power is in your hands.
Reliable – Collectively, our products undergo one million hours of reliability testing, but we didn't stop there. We've designed a fail-safe system. In the unlikely event of a microinverter failure, the remaining microinverters keep the backup power safely running. It's like a backup for your backup.
More than 18,000 Enphase home energy storage systems have been commissioned worldwide, which has given Enphase a tremendous head start over many competitors. We introduced our first energy storage product, the 1.2 kWh Enphase AC Battery (ACB), in late 2016. The original ACB was designed for self-consumption and time-of-use tariff management, and Enphase has shipped more than 36 MWh of energy storage since the launch of the ACB. The Enphase Encharge™ energy storage system is the third generation Enphase storage product, backed by five years of research, development, and field experience, and we think that this track record gives our customers a great deal of confidence.
[EnergySage] Why should/do customers consider Enphase's solar plus storage installations?
[Enphase] It's important to keep in mind that energy storage is not just a battery. It's a complex and critical home system that absolutely must be ready and safe when you need it most. We are acutely aware of this fact, so we started with safety when we designed Enphase storage: our batteries are built with a safety-first, AC-coupled architecture. We've also selected the safest residential battery chemistry available – it won't explode if punctured, and it's Cobalt-free.
[EnergySage] What is the one thing you wish potential customers knew about energy storage?
[Enphase] Anyone considering adding a home energy storage system is well-served by understanding if the system they are evaluating combines the essential elements of safety, flexibility, and reliability in a way that works for them. As more and more storage options come to market, we will be confronted with new technical information, specifications, and marketing terms. While this influx of information will take more time to sort through, consumers should focus on this essential combination of questions:
Are both the storage system and battery chemistry safe enough for us?
Will the system seamlessly integrate with solar, and can we easily add more storage later?
If an inverter or battery cell fails, will that take the entire system down?
[EnergySage] What questions are customers asking about storage? What questions are they not asking that they should be?
[Enphase] Home energy storage systems come in all kinds of sizes, from covering the basics like powering the internet and lights, to keeping the refrigerator running, to serving as backup power for the entire house. As with many things: the larger the storage system, the higher the cost. Homeowners, therefore, have to decide if they want a system that can be easily upgraded in the future, adding either more storage or more solar if their energy needs change over time. The Enphase Encharge 3™ and Encharge 10™ storage systems, with a usable capacity of 3.4 kWh and 10.1 kWh, respectively, are an expandable building block systems. That means you can buy as much storage as you need to keep the essentials on today and add more later, including backup for the entire house. There is tremendous power in that kind of flexibility.
[EnergySage] How does the Encharge battery fit with homeowners' existing solar systems?
[Enphase] Enphase Encharge™ storage products are optimized to integrate with both new and existing Enphase IQ™ solar systems with IQ 6™ or IQ 7™ microinverters. This approach provides a simple storage upgrade path for existing Enphase solar customers.
Home energy storage systems are a significant investment intended to provide many years of reliable service, which is why Enphase storage systems use Lithium Iron Phosphate (LFP) battery chemistry, which provides a long cycle life and excellent thermal stability. Encharge storage systems also feature upgradeable software, which protects your investment since they are adaptable to future regulations and tariff changes. Finally, Encharge storage systems deliver the confidence and convenience of a zero-maintenance battery system and the peace of mind of a 10-year warranty.
[EnergySage] What are the best use cases/applications of the Encharge batteries?
[Enphase] There are four primary applications for Enphase Encharge™ storage systems. Enphase storage is powered by the always-on Enphase Ensemble™ energy management technology that allows your solar system to continue producing power even when the grid is down, like during a snowstorm, hurricane, or a fire-safety-related outage. If you live in a part of the country where you are at risk of power outages, Encharge storage can give you that always-on peace of mind. Enphase storage systems can also be used to sell the solar energy you produced back to the grid, which can help shorten the payback period of a system. In places where the utility does not offer a payback for energy sent back to the grid, Enphase storage lets homeowners use stored solar power after the sun sets, reducing their utility bills. Finally, an Enphase solar-plus-storage system can be used to provide services to the grid by charging and discharging based on the grid's needs, which can be another source of revenue for storage system owners.
[EnergySage] How does Encharge fit within Enphase's broader goals as a company?
[Enphase] The goal at Enphase has always been to make energy smart and simple. With Encharge storage systems, our customers get an all-in-one system that can generate solar energy, store energy, use energy from external sources like the grid or even a generator, keep track of how much energy is produced, stored, or used, and make it all work together seamlessly. That's quite a bit of complexity, so we've given Enphase customers the ability to monitor their entire system from a single app and leave the system on autopilot. Seamless integration is the name of the game with Encharge storage.
[EnergySage] Where do you see the energy storage industry moving over the next 6-18 months?
[Enphase] Until recently, home energy has primarily consisted of power from the grid, the wires someone installed in the house, and perhaps some solar on the roof. Energy storage, in the form of batteries, is still a relatively new concept. The folks who are not technically inclined will ask themselves questions like how much storage do we need, should we do partial or whole home backup, which battery technology is the safest, and so on. Despite this uncertainty, home energy storage will continue to be a kitchen table topic because it's an essential aspect of building self-reliance in the face of ever more frequent power outages. In the next 6-18 months, homeowners will become much better informed about energy storage systems. They will demand that this critical consumer appliance will meet the expectations they put on other home appliances: it must be simple, integrated, flexible, and blend perfectly into a homeowner's life, almost without them knowing it's there. At Enphase, we are very excited about being able to offer an all-in-one solar-plus-storage system that is easy to install and makes it simple to answer the big questions about these systems.
On the EnergySage Marketplace, you can receive up to seven custom solar-plus-storage quotes to compare side-by-side. These quotes will include information about the proposed solar equipment, system design, financing, battery details, and more. If you want to install a specific battery–like the Encharge–note it in your account so installers can provide a quote with that equipment.