Enphase debuts microgrid-forming microinverter (keeps solar up when grid goes down)

Microinverter manufacturer Enphase Energy debuted a first of its kind technology that will make a lot of solar-only customers happy. This all-in-one Enphase Energy System with IQ8 solar microinverters is capable of forming a microgrid during a power outage using only sunlight, providing backup power even without a battery. The only other device we’ve seen capable of doing that for grid-tied solar customers is the standalone Evergrid.

“Since the company’s inception, we invested in custom application specific integrated circuit (ASIC) chips for our microinverters, and today we see the payoff with a software-defined microinverter smart enough to form a microgrid, unlocking value for homeowners,” said Badri Kothandaraman, president and CEO of Enphase. “Many homeowners often assume their solar systems will function if the sun is shining, even during a power outage. This has unfortunately not been true until today. Now, with IQ8, homeowners can realize the true promise of solar — to make and use their own power. IQ8 solar microinverters can provide Sunlight Backup during an outage, even without a battery.”

The Enphase Energy System with IQ8 comes in four different configurations:

  • “Solar Only”;
  • “Sunlight Backup” with no battery;
  • “Home Essentials Backup” with a small battery; and
  • “Full Energy Independence” with a large battery.

While the first configuration is a standard grid-tied system, the remaining configurations are grid-agnostic systems which need an Enphase System Controller (formerly called Enpower smart switch) to island the home during an outage. For homeowners who want a battery, there are no sizing restrictions on pairing an Enphase battery with the solar system. And all configurations can be customized for homeowners with the help of Enphase installer partners.

The IQ8 family includes five types of software-defined microinverters, IQ8, IQ8+, IQ8M, IQ8A and IQ8H, with peak output AC power of 245VA, 300VA, 330VA, 366VA and 384VA, respectively.

The IQ8H microinverter is Enphase’s most powerful microinverter to date and has a California Energy Commission (CEC) efficiency of 97 percent. The multiple types of IQ8 enable seamless pairing with a full range of solar modules, even up to 540W DC.

IQ8 pilot installations began in Q3 with select installer partners. Distributor and installer partners in North America can pre-order IQ8 starting today, with production shipments expected in December.

“The IQ8 microinverter, being a true microgrid microinverter, is going to be a gamechanger for this industry,” said Aimee Carpenter, CEO of Washington-based Solterra Solar and Texas-based Good Energy Solar. “Until IQ8, it was challenging to properly manage customer expectations of battery design and sizing limitations and to explain different options. Enabling a customer to start with any size Enphase battery and grow over time is going to make battery backup with solar a possibility for many more of our customers.”

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