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Enphase Ensemble Solar Battery: The Complete Review

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Enphase Energy Ensemble Battery Review

Enphase Energy changed solar power conversion with their microinverter technology, now, they have revolutionized energy storage with their newly released Ensemble Series. Unlike traditional hybrid battery backup systems, which power down your solar array in the event of a blackout, all components of the Ensemble series work together to create your own individual micro-grid, offering true energy independence from the grid; your solar panels continue to collect energy for both your home and battery backup unit regardless of whether the electricity grid is up or down. The Ensemble line will reliably supply usable energy for days, not hours - effectively making it the most reliable grid-tied battery backup solution on the market to date.

The Ensemble Series is the outcome of over a decade of research during which time Enphase secured over three hundred patents, produced eight generations of microinverters and developed five generations of Application-Specific Integrated Circuits (ASICs). ASIC circuits are specifically customized for specific purposes, which enabled Enphase to develop the Ensemble: the world’s first truly grid-agnostic battery backup system. We will fully explore all components of the Ensemble Series in order to better understand how their technology works, and how it can enhance the reliability and output of your solar energy system.

Enphase Energy microinverter systems are easy to install and monitor, which has made them an attractive option for both DIY homeowners and installers alike. The IQ microinverter technology is backed by an industry leading 25-year warranty, outperforming other standard warranty periods of 10-12 years. The Ensemble line has a 10-year warranty, a term period also well above industry standards, typically set between 2-5 years.

Series Highlight:

In addition to being an exciting option for new solar arrays, current system owners, with any of the IQ series microinverters can easily add in the Ensemble system and benefit from its grid-agnostic technology.

In this Enphase Energy Ensemble Series Review, we will be exploring the following:

  • Grid-Agnostic vs Hybrid vs Off-Grid Technology
  • Enphase Ensemble Technology & Software
  • New Installations and Battery Additions
  • Initial Cost and Potential ROI
  • Solaris Insights

Grid-Agnostic vs Hybrid vs Off-Grid Technology

DC to AC Solar Energy RepresentationSo, what does it mean to be grid-agnostic? And, how does it vary from hybrid and off grid systems? To start, grid-agnostic and hybrid systems are very similar in they way that they operate; when connected to grid power the solar panels harvest raw energy from the sun (DC energy), which then converted into usable able AC energy by the inverter. For the Enphase Energy mircoinverters, this is done at the modular level. String inverter systems run wiring from your array to one or more stand-alone inverters in series or parallel configurations. Solar energy is distributed between your home and battery unit - to be utilized when the sun is not shining and your panels are not producing energy.

Where the technologies differ is their response and capabilities the event of a power outage. Hybrid systems, (like the pairing of SolarEdge's StorEdge hybrid inverter and the LG Chem battery), automatically switch from grid-tied solar energy to battery backup power. During this process, your solar array is shut down, and the system can no longer produce energy for household consumption or battery charging. At peak storage capacity, the LG Chem 10kWh battery may last between 10-12 hours, this figure is dependent on the battery's state of charge and energy consumption during the blackout time period. The 10-12 hour range is calculated assuming only 750w to 1000w of power is being pulled per hour. In terms of the operation of your solar array, hybrid systems are still partially grid-reliant.

The LG Chem RESU battery can only provide power in the event of a short blackout time period, and during times of low sunlight when your solar system is not producing energy. However, this hybrid setup is not ideal for periods of extend blackouts, such as those seen after natural disasters and emergency situations. Take for example, the state of California, during peak fire season many residents, (both with and without solar energy), experienced up to weeks of grid outages. The Enphase's Ensemble series provides days of uninterrupted energy for as long as you need it. The Ensemble's grid-agnostic technology allows your solar panels to produce energy during the day, and your battery continues to charge negating the potential of extended periods of time with no power.

When the grid is operational, the system operates like a traditional grid-tied system.

Enphase Grid Tie Operations

In the event of a power outage the Enpower Switch automatically isolates your solar energy system from the grid. The IQ microinverter continues to harvest solar energy, and the Ensemble system transitions into Grid-Forming-Inverter Mode.

Enphase Ensemble Grid-Forming-Inverter Mode

Grid-Forming-Inverter Mode enables the system to become fully grid-agnostic - your solar energy system will continue to harvest energy from your solar array whether the grid is connected or not. The Enlighten software signals the Enpower Switch when grid connection is re-established and your system is automatically reconnected to the grid without the need for manual intervention.

Ensemble Grid-Agnostic System

The Ensemble Encharge battery provides energy for nighttime consumption. An additional feature of the Ensemble series is the ability of the smart software to pull electricity from the grid at night when energy rates are low to charge the battery unit. You can gain manual control all aspects of your energy consumption through the Enlighten cloud software.

Ensemble Encharge Battery Nighttime Consumption

Off-grid battery backup systems are solar energy systems that are not connected to an electric grid, typical battery backup options for these systems include: AGM, flooded and sealed gel. While these options are known to be effective and reliable, off-grid systems often require high levels of maintenance, detailed electrical knowledge to install, and can become very expensive over time. The warranty period of non-lithium batteries is usually between 2-5 years, meaning, that the batteries will need to be replaced many times over the lifetime of your solar panels.

Off-grid battery backup units can also be very large, making them an infeasible solution for many suburban installations. The lithium battery technology utilized in hybrid systems are more compact and typically only require one battery to provide for ample battery backup power. In comparison, the Enphase Ensemble grid-agnostic technology requires little to no maintenance, is easy to install and monitor, and comes out at a lower price point when factoring in additional costs over the lifetime of your solar energy system.

To allow for a more comprehensive comparison of solar battery backup technology for grid-tied systems, we will be exploring the Ensemble's grid-agnostic technology with the LG Chem RESU battery and excluding off-grid battery solutions.

Enphase Ensemble Technology

Enphase Energy Ensemble Series

The Enphase Ensemble Series is composed of four key components: the Envoy Combiner, Enpower Switch, Encharge Battery, and Enlighten Cloud Monitoring platform. In combination with the Enphase IQ series microinverters, these components communicate and work together to enable your system to automatically become grid-independent when you need it.

Ensemble Component
Function Highlights Downloads
Pricing
Encharge Battery
Enphase Encharge-10-1P-NA 10.5kW Battery
Fully integrated AC battery backup unit
- 3.36kWh & 10.5kW sizes
- Grid forming capability
- Lithium iron phosphate (LFP) chemistry for safety and longevity

- Specs
-
Installation Guide
- 3.36kWh Battery
-
10.5kWh Battery
Enpower SwitchEnphase Enpower Switch EP200G101-M240US00
- Transition and control of point of connection to the grid
- Micro-grid Interconnection Device (MID)

- Supports whole home, partial home and sub-panel backup
- Autonomous detection
- Enables seamless  and safe transition from grid connection to backup, and backup to grid

Specs Enpower Switch
Envoy Combiner
Enphase X-IQ-AM1-240-3C IQ+ Combiner Box w/ Envoy
- Includes IQ Enphase Envoy for communication and control
- Provides production metering and optional consumption monitoring
- Power aggregator and control gateway

- Flexible networking (WiFi, Ethernet or cellular)
- Includes LTE-M cell modem and 5 year data plan
- Accommodates up to four 2-pole branch circuits

- Specs
-
Installation Guide
Enphase X-IQ-AM1-2403C IQ Combiner Box with Envoy
Enlighten Cloud
Enphase Enlighten Cloud Monitoring
Real time monitoring: produced, imported, consumed and battery charge
- Virtual assistant integration (Alexa)
- Turn loads on/off, disable power to the grid, control battery charge and discharge
- Information on battery life during outages

- Platform Free Cloud Service
Accessory: Comm Adapter
Enphase Enpower COMMS-KIT-01 USB Adapter
IQ Envoy USB adapter kit
Enables complete functionality of the Enphase Ensemble energy management system
- Installation Guide Enphase Enpower USB Adapter

*Ensemble components compatible with all IQ series microinverters.

The Ensemble series works seamlessly together when using the full line of products: IQ Series microinverters (IQ6, IQ7 & IQ8 - To be released late 2020), the Encharge battery, Enpower switch, Envoy, Enlighten cloud and communication adapter composes the complete line of Ensemble. To review how the Ensemble series works, view the video below, it highlights many of the key features of the series line.

*Enphase Energy Ensemble Introduction

Enphase IQ Combiner with Envoy and Enlighten Platform

The Enlighten monitoring platform is free, and easy to setup and use. You can elect to monitor you system via Enphase's web portal or through their application. The Enlighten monitoring platform speaks to all components within the system, providing you with easy access and control over your home or business's power supply. Easily see and manage your solar energy system's production, imported and consumed power, and battery charge from your home computer or smart device. The Enlighten system provides modular level monitoring and management, putting control of your energy where it belongs - in your hands.

See Here: Enphase Ensemble Warranty Statement

New Installations and Battery Additions

The Ensemble battery backup unit and IQ microinverters are easy to install for both DIY and professional installers. Installation of the Ensemble Encharge battery does not require consumers to go through lengthy certification processes, unlike the mandatory requirement imposed by LG Chem prior to purchasing one of their units. This added flexibility allows you to budget your system from components to installation cost.

DIY homeowners also have the Enlighten software to troubleshoot their system, which provides ample future savings opportunities in the event that maintenance is necessary. In most cases, the Enlighten software will update and configure your system automatically. Enphase's top of the line support is also available in the event assistance is needed.

Ensemble and IQ Series CompatibilityThe Ensemble's grid-agnostic technology is made possible by Enphase's eighth generation of microinverters, the IQ8. Current system owners utilizing any of the IQ Series microinverters can easily add the Ensemble battery. IQ8 microinverters are included in each Encharge battery unit, these microinverters automatically turn your grid-tied solar array into a hybrid system with grid agnostic technology. This avoids additional costs associated with switching solar inverters out both in terms supplies and installation. Module IQ8 microinverters are set to hit the market by the end of the year, so stay tuned.

For those with M or S series microinverters, battery pairing is not possible, the IQ series, likewise, is not possible. In these cases, the system owner can elect to add onto their existing system with the IQ series micros, (the communications gateway will also need to be ordered to enable communications with the Enlighten software).

Initial Cost and Potential ROI

In order to provide an overview of initial costs associated purchasing the Enphase Ensemble, we have composed three (900kWh/month) 8.69kW systems, all utilizing mid-range cost solar panels from Hanwha QCells, IQ7A microinverters and IronRidge roof mount racking for composite shingle roofs.

The first system provides a cost estimate for a new Enphase Energy solar system with battery backup, the second system will only include the Ensemble line for battery additions, and the final the cost of a SolarEdge hybrid and LG Chem battery system for comparison.

The below systems do not include: State and Federal Tax Rebates, and balance of systems items (such as PV wire, disconnect boxes, circuit breakers, etc.). Be sure to calculate all tax rebates and average between $200 - $500 for the additional balance of systems items for roof mounted systems. Engineering stamps for structural, electrical or both may be required by some counties, check with your city planning office to see if they have any such requirements.

New Ensemble Solar System
Enphase Ensemble Encharge Battery
Enphase System Addition
Enphase Ensemble Encharge Battery
New Hybrid Battery Backup
LG Chem RESU
Lithium Ion Battery
Encharge 10.5kW Encharge 10.5kW LG Chem RESU
Solar Panels Q.Cells 395w G5.2 System Dependent
Q.Cells 395w G5.2
Necessary Components
- Enpower Switch
- Envoy Unit/Combiner Box
- Communication Adapter
- Enlighten Subscription (Free)

- Enpower Switch
- **Envoy Unit/Combiner Box
- Communication Adapter
- Enlighten Subscription (Free)

- SolarEdge Autotransformer
- Battery Handles
- SolarEdge Monitoring Platform (Free)
- LG Chem Installer Certification
Inverters IQ7A Microinverters System Dependent
- SolarEdge SE7600H-US
- P400 Optimizers
Roof Mount Racking IronRidge XR100 Comp. Roof Mount Kit System Dependent
IronRidge XR100 Comp. Roof Mount Kit
Other - Permit Plan Set
- Labels
Permit Plan Set for Addition - Permit Plan Set
- Labels
Sub Total $24,930.35 $14,665.00
**$13,695.00
$20,287.55
Est. Shipping $440.00 $160.00 $440.00
Avg. Total $25,370.35 $14,825.00
**$13,855.00
$20,757.55

*Pricing calculated based on pricing as of the posting of this article. Learn more about how to size your solar energy system here, to request a system quote fill out our intake form here.

**If an IQ Envoy unit or combiner box is already being utilized, it does not need to be switched out for the new unit.starred pricing minus the unit.

The Enphase Ensemble solar system kit with battery backup comes in at a price point approximately 20% higher than the hybrid SolarEdge system. While the Ensemble system may have a higher initial cost, the Ensemble's the grid-agnostic technology is worth the additional initial investment, its benefits outweigh the limitations set by traditional hybrid systems. Also keep in mind that microinverter systems already come in at a higher initial investment when compared to string inverter systems.

In the case of of long-term energy production and retention, the Ensemble and the LG Chem battery are matched at 10 years, however the Ensemble battery retains 70% discharge at 10 years whereas the LG Chem only retains 60% of its nameplate power rating. In combination with the battery systems compatible inverters, (microinverters 25 year warranty and string inverter 12 year warranty), Ensemble system owners stand to benefit more in the long term both in terms of energy production and financial reward.

Below we have broken down the cost per watt for each of the complete system kits above using the Ensemble battery and LG Chem battery backup units.

  • Ensemble Solar Kit - $25,370.35 / 8,690 Watts = $2.92/watt
  • LG Chem Solar Kit - $20,757.55 / 8,690 Watts = $2.39/watt

Energy Production

Both systems will produce around 900kWh per month of standard energy usage. This does not consider the additional monies saved by the addition of the battery backup unit for nighttime consumption. By taking the average cost per kilowatt hour for the United States ($0.13), we can determine that both systems provide about $117 in monthly savings every year.

  • 900kWh x $0.13 = $117 monthly savings

ROI Period

Based on the bill of materials above, excluding, nighttime/blackout consumption, and other rebates/expenses, the ROI period of the above systems are as follows:

  • Ensemble Solar Kit - $25,370.35 / $117 = ~216.84 months or 18.05 year ROI period
  • LG Chem Solar Kit - $20,757.55 / $117 = ~177.42 months or 14.79 year ROI period

The systems are close in terms of price per watt and the expected ROI period. When factoring in nighttime consumption these figures may be lower, especially in the case of the Ensemble battery, which utilizes more in depth technology that offers a wider host of benefits overall than the LG Chem unit.

Solaris Insights

Enphase Ensemble Grid Agnostic TechnologyThe Enphase Ensemble line offers complete control of the energy that is harvested from your solar energy system from daily consumption to emergency backup power. As more areas in the United States and around the world experience natural disasters and frequent extended blackouts, the necessity for renewable energy and energy storage has increased dramatically.

Although hybrid lithium battery technology is fairly new, Enphase's Ensemble unit far out-competes their hybrid competitors. For example, LG Chem's RESU battery can only provide between 10-12 hours and further cut off your ability to access the solar energy being generated from your solar system. Hybrid systems are partially grid reliant, which means that their ability to provide energy for you in a blackout is limited. The Ensemble is grid independent and does not limit your access to energy. Instead, the complete system from the microinverters, to the battery, to the smart technology to enhance your daily/monthly energy output and when you need it most.

Controlling your Enphase Energy system is simple, their Enlighten cloud software, smart management through AI technologies such as Alexa fit into to popular and commonly used technologies most households utilize today. The automatic processes of the Enlighten software, Enpower Switch, and Envoy unit provides peace of mind for solar system owners. Which means no more complicated management, second guessing, and lengthy costly maintenance.

The Enphase Ensemble and IQ Series are rapidly changing the game for residential and commercial solar energy systems. The Ensemble is the only series to offer consumers a solution that makes them truly energy independent. This long anticipated solution is set to start shipping nationwide June 2020, pre-order your Enphase Energy Ensemble system or request a quote with to start your journey to true energy independence with clean solar energy.

See Here: LG vs Panasonic Solar Panels: The Complete Review


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