Time to read: 10 minutes
November 3, 2022
If you couldn’t already tell, we love talking about the solar energy technology that has been referred to as the “workhorse” of the Solar Powered Systems installed by IES Texas Solar. Enphase is a reliable brand that IES Texas Solar has used to install the most effective Solar Powered Systems on the market. Now that Enphase has rolled out the Enphase IQ 10, we wanted to explore what sets this technology apart from what came before and find out what makes it so wonderfully efficient.
Join us as we dive into the new Enphase technology with PV Design Engineer Kevin Marceski and Solar Consultant Kristen Killgore, two of IES Texas Solar’s leading experts on all things solar.
What exactly is the Enphase IQ 10?
The Enphase IQ 10 is the latest battery technology that boasts both improved functionality and aesthetics over previous models. Enphase was founded in 2006 by Martin Fornage and Raghu Belur in California, and has been listed on NASDAQ since 2017 as ENPH.
KM: “The aesthetics are the icing on the cake, but the actual function is the real sweet spot. The Enphase IQ 10 is their newest iteration on what I want to say is similar battery technology that they’ve been using for almost a decade. The IQ 10 battery is kind of their new rebranding from their old Encharge 10 batteries. You still have the same reliability and a lot of the same technology. They’ve improved the micro inverters that are inside those batteries to improve the efficiency from your DC battery cells being translated into AC power that your house can use.”
KM: “The end result for the consumer is, and this is the reason why I mentioned the aesthetics, they’ve made them look a lot more attractive. One of the new battery systems we offer is the IQ 10-T battery, which has a much slimmer profile. It’s something in which Enphase realized that a lot of these people are trying to climate protect their batteries, so we’re keeping them in interior spaces, specifically garages or basements if people have them.”
KM: “They realize that space is a premium when it comes to those locations, and I think their big focus with the 10-T battery is making that smaller profile and not making them jut out of the wall very far. You look at some competitors in the space and they can get very bulky if you’re trying to put the home grown battery or another analogous or even lead acid batteries into a garage or a basement. It takes up room really fast. And if you’re trying to park your car in that same space, you’re gonna run out of room very quickly. So, Enphase is again, very customer-centric. They’re making sure that they can keep their batteries slim; they can mount it high up on the wall to avoid taking up that other usable space that you might want to use for another vehicle or storage or what have you. So I think that’s a key way that again, they’re just keeping the little details in mind for these customers and making it easier for them to find the space to put their batteries in a place where they can be protected.”
The aesthetics aren’t just for show. Now that we’ve established how these slimmer designs benefit you, let’s explore what sets them apart from other tech they’ve used.
What sets Enphase’s IQ 10 technology apart from previous models?
KM: “So about all Enphase batteries and most batteries in general, they’re smart batteries, meaning that they have both a battery management system on the DC side of the battery and an integrated inverter inside the battery cabinet. A lot of other battery brands have to combine with a separate inverter in order to kind of make that battery power usable, but the IQ batteries are all ingrained in one package. You have that battery, and there are actually IQ 8 micro inverters inside that battery that are transferring that power from DC to AC so they can use it, and having them all within that same package again helps with mitigating space and helps make the installation easier.”
KM: “Enphase is consistently committed to making things easier on the customer side, but I think a lot of people discredit or maybe don’t think about the fact that making it easier on the installers and people that are hooking up this equipment, the electricians, that’s also a benefit to the customer too. Because If you have a system that’s super complicated, you may or may not have an installer that’s very familiar with the technology, and if you have something that’s installed wrong, you’re behind the eight ball from the get go. So making sure that they have that all-in-one package in the battery makes it easy for the installers to just hang it up on the wall in the garage and connect it to the Smart Switch and then they’re good to go. As easy as possible and as simple as possible. They’re not trying to reinvent the wheel here.”
KM: “They’re just taking the great technology that they’ve had for almost a decade now and iterating on it to make it more customer friendly and more installer friendly. At the end of the day, it just makes the ecosystem as a whole that much easier to interface with as a customer and for them to benefit from it.”
Enphase is taking the already existing technology (rooftop inverters and batteries) that was originally in two separate places in the system and combining them into the same place in order to maximize efficiency.
A stable micro-grid for your home
KM: “Enphase still has a really strong offering with their IQ 7 microinverters. That’s been their bread-and-butter for at least the past five years now. It’s a great inverter, but by stemming off that battery technology, they’re now also using the same microinverters that are in those batteries. They’re using them on the roof. So you can also install IQ 8 micro inverters on the roof as well, and the benefit there is, and it gets a little complicated, but it basically just makes it a more stable microgrid for you.”
KM: “In the past whenever we’ve installed batteries and a lot of the Encharge battery series, you have to kind of have a balancing act on the design side where you can only have a certain number of rooftop micro inverters feeding into your battery system when the power goes out. That means that if you have this giant, grand solar system on your roof with IQ 7 micro inverters, if you add batteries into that system, you also have to include controls that shut off some of your solar panels when there’s a power outage.”
KM: “So if you have a whole 50-panel system and you only have one battery, that battery needs to shut off a good 31 of those panels whenever the power goes out just so it can balance that power back and forth and keep that microgrid happy. One of the big things that Enphase did when rolling out these IQ 8 micro inverters is that if you have IQ 8 micro inverters on the roof, you can have 100 panels with IQ eight micro inverters and one battery, and they’ll still be able to stabilize that microgrid and talk to each other and keep your full benefit of solar online even when you have to balance that microgrid when the power goes out. So that’s kind of one of the big innovations I think Enphase is rolling out right now. Just makes it easier on me as the designer, but also maintains that full benefit of your whole big solar power system you have on the roof when the power goes out.”
What about power surges?
KM: “Power surges are something that we account for in every one of our installations, having a surge protector or even in specific cases, a lightning arrester included on our solar system is an extra layer of protection that we go through. You never really want to have lightning striking your house or nearby the house. It’s not something people want to think about, but it’s even further exacerbated when you think that it can fry your entire electrical system, and if you have that battery backup with solar, you want to make sure that you’re insulated against those freak events and that you have something that’s going to take that that extra surge for you and make sure it’s not going to harm your equipment.”
“It’s just another layer of protection that we offer with all of our systems.”
KK: “I’ve actually witnessed that before. It was cool! I went to an installation and the system wasn’t working when we got there and the surge protector was black. We realized that it had been hit by electricity and it still worked. It obviously showed that and it was broken but it took all of the power into it. And then we just turned the system back on and it was fine.”
Do Enphase IQ 10 batteries last longer than normal batteries? What other benefits do they have?
KM: “Yeah, and that’s one of the reasons why I mentioned the IQ 8 microinverters on the roof as your battery tank, you know if you want to think about this as like the classic water analogy with electricity and batteries. If you have more panels on the roof working during the daytime to fill those batteries, your tank stays full longer. And so kind of having that balance of the IQ aid numbers on the roof to keep the batteries topped off definitely lends itself to a longer period of usage, which you know, whether that’s hours depending on the solar system size or days. You’re gonna have that power in a blackout much longer than you might otherwise.”
On that note, it’s important to know that your Enphase batteries are also designed to easily connect to gas-powered Generac® generators. This enables your Solar Powered System to all run and operate at the same time during a power outage. Pairing your Enphase batteries with a Generac® generator can help you have a complete, uninterrupted flow of power even when the grid goes down.
Additional benefits to consider with Enphase IQ 10
KM: “I think I’ve said my piece. Kristen, I know on the sales side have you seen customers that are looking for something specific with these batteries?”
KK: “Ah, well, I think one thing I have learned talking about the curtailing of the power of being able to use it during the day because it has that ability to basically combine the power of the solar panels and the battery during the day, which a lot other AC batteries don’t do, and that’s a huge benefit. I’ve noticed that a lot of customers really like that, because you know a lot of other batteries, they’ll only let the solar panels charge the battery, and you’re actually only running on the battery. I think that’s why the benefit of how the power is controlled with the inverters being able to talk to each other is probably why they can also run at the same time. It’s that combination of the solar panels and a battery and not just the battery itself. Isn’t that right Kevin?”
KM: “Agreed. Yeah, that’s improving the efficiency there. You’re absolutely right. In a lot of other battery systems you have the DC power from the panels going in and charging the batteries, which is great. But then you can transfer power into the battery, then the battery has to flip that to AC to use it. In the Enphase system where you have the battery feeding into loads, you have the solar feeding in to load to the separate spot, and you don’t really lose any of those efficiencies along the way.”
If you are considering switching to solar for your home or business, reach out to us by going to our website, iestxsolar.com, or by giving us a call at (855) 447-6527.