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Microinverters are a popular alternative to common ‘string’ solar inverters and are used in over half of all solar installations in North America. Microinverters, also known as micros, have several advantages over string solar inverters but a marginally higher upfront cost. In this article, we examine whether it is worth paying extra and what advantages micro inverters have over standard string inverters. For those new to solar, learn the basics of how solar works here.
Enphase Microinverters Quick Summary
- Power rating: 240VA to 380VA AC (230W. 540W DC)
- Latest products: IQ8 Micros, IQ battery 5P, Bidirectional EV charger
- Battery compatible. Yes (AC-coupled batteries only)
- Off-grid compatible. Yes (with Encharge battery IQ8 micros)
- Product Warranty: 25 Years (USA Canada), 10 Years (Australia)
- Service and support: Very good 5/5
- Price bracket: High
- Overall: Highly recommended ☆☆☆☆☆
Enphase Energy, founded in 2006, has long been regarded as the world leading microinverter manufacturer. Based in the US, Enphase launched the first microinverter, the M175 in 2008, but it wasn’t until the next-gen M190 was launched in 2009 that sales really took off. Ever since Enphase has established itself as an industry leader in microinverter technology and has a huge market share in North America. Sales in other regions, such as Europe and Australia, have been low in comparison but are growing as both consumers and installers realise the many benefits of microinverters.
What is a Microinverter?
A microinverter is a very small inverter designed to be attached to each individual solar panel. This is very different to standard string solar inverters, which are usually located on a wall some distance from the string of solar panels and connected via DC cable. In string inverter systems, DC power from the string of the panels is then converted to AC at the inverter. Since micro Inverters are attached to every solar panel, each panel works independently from the rest of the solar array and DC power is converted to AC immediately on the roof. Some solar panels are also available with factory-installed microinverters, these are referred to as AC solar modules.
Note: most benefits of microinverters only apply to high-quality microinverters such as those from Enphase Energy. Unknown or poor-quality micros should be avoided due to the history of high failure rates and poor service.
Advantages of Microinverters
The main advantage of microinverters is that each panel is monitored and optimized individually to generate maximum power. Solar panels can generate different amounts of power due to a number of reasons, such as shading, dirt and mismatch, as explained in detail below. In a standard string installation, the panels are linked together in series, and the power output of the entire string can be significantly reduced by a single poor-performing, shaded or dirty panel. However, using micros can overcome this and help avoid the many reasons solar systems can under-perform including:
- Shading – Trees, buildings, poles, wires, antennas, or rooftop structures
- Soiling – Dust, snow, bird droppings or birds
- Panel mismatch – various manufacturing tolerances
- Panel faults – micro cracking, hot spots or water ingress. learn more
- Temperature difference – thermal mismatch at different times of the day
- Panel Ageing. Panel degradation at different rates over time
- No PID – Eliminates Potential Induced degradation. learn more
- Odd roof layouts. Panels mounted at multiple orientations and angles
- Small roof. Roof areas that can only fit a small number of panels
Enphase Microinverter Range
Enphase Energy now has two families of microinverters, the current seventh-generation IQ7 series and the new eighth-generation IQ8 series. Unfortunately, the IQ8 series is still only available in North America. IQ8 micros are available in a large range of sizes to suit specific panel sizes and voltages, in particular, the more powerful commercial solar panels rated up to 550W. Release dates for other countries are still pending.
The IQ7 series has been around since 2018, and several new variations have been released over the years, the latest being the more powerful Smart grid-ready IQ7A microinverter. Due to increasingly larger and more powerful solar panels coming into the market, the IQ7A has a higher continuous power rating of 349VA, up from 320V on the IQ7X. However, unlike the IQ7X, the maximum DC input voltage is limited to 58V, which is compatible with the latest 60 and 72-cell panels, or 120 and 144 half-cut high-powered solar panels up to 460W. The 96-cell panels, such as those from Sunpower and Panasonic, are only compatible with the IQ7X.
Download the full datasheets. Enphase IQ7, IQ7 IQ7X datasheet. Enphase IQ7A datasheet
Currently only available in North America. International release expect mid-2023
The eighth-generation microinverters from Enphase are finally available and packed with innovations to enable advanced grid-forming functions for off-grid operation and precise power control. Claimed as “the industry’s first grid-forming microinverters with split-phase power conversion capability”, the IQ8 range is available in a large range of sizes from 240VA up to 380VA to suit almost every panel type from the old generation 60-cell panels all the way up to the latest powerful 540W panels used for large commercial installations.
Where the IQ8 series really shines in is speed and accuracy thanks to the “proprietary application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC)” which enables the microinverter to become a Rapid load-following inverter to allow seamless operation in both on-grid and off-grid modes. Additionally, the IQ8 series micros are designed to work in conjunction with the new range of Enphase battery storage equipment, including, the IQ Battery, IQ Gateway, and IQ system controller, described in more detail below.
IQ8 Advanced Features Include:
- Grid-forming microinverters with split-phase power conversion
- Seamless transition between on-grid and off-grid modes
- Basic backup power without a battery (during daylight hours)
- Remote automatic updates for the latest grid requirements
- Fully configurable to support a wide range of grid profiles
Download the detailed Enphase IQ8 series datasheet here
System and panel level monitoring
Microinverters offer better system monitoring compared to string inverters, as each panel can be monitored individually. Note, for those with standard string inverter systems, additional panel-mounted ‘DC optimizers’ such as those from Tigo or SolarEdge can also enable individual panel-level monitoring and optimisation. However, the extra cost and real-world performance of these alternatives are debatable.
With micros an owner can see the performance of the system as a whole, plus at the individual panel level. Also, the installer can have a separate login where they can monitor all their systems at a panel level and are warned when any panels are under-performing which can prevent system downtime and help with any warranty claims. Enphase Energy has the Envoy monitoring hub for all systems to enable setup, commissioning and remote monitoring. They also monitor all registered systems worldwide from the US headquarters which provides valuable information to monitor fault conditions and continue to improve their products.
Most microinverters have been rigorously tested in extreme weather and climate conditions. These units are designed to last the life of a solar panel and generally have a warranty to back that up. Many microinverters, such as those from Enphase, come with a 25-year warranty (10 years outside North America), which is far longer than the standard 10 years for most string inverters. Again, bear in mind that this is only relevant with high-quality microinverters such as those from Enphase. To date, there have been very low failure rates reported by our solar specialists, and Enphase has proven to be one of the most reliable inverter manufacturers in the world.
Enphase tested and monitored the performance of their micro’s during the 2014 Australia summer in Adelaide, which had the most consecutive days over 40C (104F) in its recorded history and peaked at 45.9C (115C). Because of the advanced monitoring of their inverters, they were able to announce that “No Enphase Micro inverter across Australia shut down due to high temperature” during this period. Other manufacturers also have very stringent testing of their inverters and have performed well in hot and freezing temperatures. It cannot be inferred that all micros are up to this standard, though and there are several competing brands that have recorded much higher failure rates by installers.
Enphase Energy Cost (2023 Solar Battery Microinverter Guide)
Each product and or company featured here has been independently selected by the writer. You can learn more about our review methodology here. If you make a purchase using the links included, we may earn commission.
Written by Aniket Bhor
Aniket Bhor is a solar engineer who has spent nearly a decade studying and working in the solar power sector in the European, Asian and North American markets. He recieved his Master’s degree in Renewable Energies from Germany at Technische Fachhochschule Wildau. He has since worked in the industry in a variety of capacities including Solar Energy Consultant, Business Development Head, Solar Entrepreneurship Trainer, and more recently writing for solar organizations including Venuiti Solutions, Green Integrations, Solengy, Ecotality.com. Overall, he is a climate enthusiast and avid cyclist, and he also loves to lose himself in books and cooking. Learn About This Person
Reviewed by Karsten Neumeister
Karsten is an editor and energy specialist focused on environmental, social and cultural development. His work has been shared by sources including NPR, the World Economic Forum, Marketwatch and the SEIA, and he is certified in ESG with the CFA Institute. Before joining EcoWatch, Karsten worked in the solar energy sector, studying energy policy, climate tech and environmental education. A lover of music and the outdoors, Karsten might be found rock climbing, canoeing or writing songs when away from the workplace. Learn About This Person
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Key Highlights for Enphase Energy Solar Systems
Most Intelligent Solar Battery
What is Enphase Energy?
Enphase Energy was founded in California in 2006 and started shipping its first microinverters in 2008. Within three years, the company had sold its first million microinverters.
But it wasn’t until 2018, when Enphase launched its seventh generation of microinverters called the IQ series, that business really took off for Enphase. The IQ7 series was a huge success worldwide and led Enphase to launch an improved IQ8 series last year.
Enphase recently entered the energy storage business by developing its solar battery. which is called the Enphase IQ 10 (previously known as the Enphase Encharge). The battery also uses the company’s microinverters inside it.
Enphase technology is unique in that it brings solar, storage and software together in a single package. Enphase microinverters act as a bridge between the solar panels and your home’s energy system. This allows homeowners to manage their home’s energy directly from a smartphone via the Enphase Enlighten app. Not only can you monitor your energy production, but you can decide what energy to use, what to store and what to sell back to the grid.
Here’s a video from Enphase about how its systems work together:
To date, Enphase products are used in 2 million homes across 135 countries. It has shipped a staggering 45 million microinverters. The company has over 5,000 installation partners worldwide, and its products come with industry-leading warranties.
Enphase designs its products in the U.S. but outsources the manufacturing. Its manufacturing unit was initially located in China but was moved to Guadalajara, Mexico, in 2020. 1
Are Enphase Microinverters Any Good?
Enphase entered the microinverter business when the technology was still in its infancy. Over the years, microinverters have grown in popularity thanks to some clear advantages over traditional solar inverters.
Traditional inverters (string or central inverters) are large boxes that connect to an array of solar panels, converting the direct current (DC) power that the panels generate into alternating current (AC) power. Microinverters still perform the same conversion from DC to AC, but they are much smaller devices that attach to each solar panel in the array.
The biggest advantage of microinverters? If one panel or microinverter in your array fails, your system can continue to produce and collect electricity via your functional solar panels. On the other hand, when a string or central inverter fails, your entire array stops supplying power.
Enphase’s microinverters also allow individual panel level monitoring to identify malfunctioning solar modules. To add this feature in a string or central inverter system, you need to install a separate product called an optimizer, which adds to the cost. With Enphase, you can use the Enlighten app to monitor the performance of panels.
Unlike string systems, microinverters are not limited by voltage, meaning you don’t have to worry about the number of panels in your array. From the installer’s perspective, microinverters are a lot simpler to install with solar panels than traditional, bulky inverters. They work well with almost any brand of solar panel — especially high-quality modules like SunPower.
The only disadvantage of choosing Enphase microinverters is their higher upfront cost. A string inverter from a reputable brand such as SMA, SolarEdge or Fronius can also perform well, so the added cost of microinverters won’t always be feasible for homeowners.
However, we find this brief Enphase review perfectly sums up why customers continue to choose these inverters:
“Easy to hook up, you can monitor production and comes with a 25-year warranty. Best in the industry.”
— Michael via Google
Enphase iQ7 Microinverter and SolarEdge Power Optimizers
For years, Green Power Energy has made SolarEdge Power Optimizers and Inverters accessible to Connecticut residents. Today, we expand our offerings with micro inverters in addition to the optimizer systems. We shall be comparing SolarEdge Power Optimizers and the Enphase iQ7 microinverter to help our customers make an informed decision.
Enphase introduced the latest technology of micro-inverter systems with the iQ7 units. Instead of integrating to a single inverter, microinverters attach to every solar panel. To better understand the pioneering solar systems, let’s see how they both work.
Enphase iQ7 Microinverter
The Enphase established their newest iQ7 microinverters to introduce the advancements in the micro inverter technology. Offering a simplified inverter solution, iQ7 gets powered by next level solar modules compatible with 60-cell panels up to 350 watts and beyond. These microinverters use Smart electronics to increase power efficiency while reducing installed cost-per-watt. Ultimately, the 7th generation iQ microinverter boasts 4% more power, 19% lighter, and 17% smaller than the previous models.
Connected through an /DC inverter, you can seamlessly connect the SolarEdge Power Optimizer to PV modules. It optimizes power through constant monitoring of the maximum power point of the modules. As a result, the energy output from PV systems increases.
After keeping track of each PV module’s performance, the data instantly communicates through the SolarEdge monitoring portal. It streamlines the repair while promoting cost-effective, enhanced maintenance. SolarEdge Power Optimizers have a unique SafeDC™ feature that automatically shuts down the DC voltage when the inverter and grid are down.
Enphase iQ7 Microinverter and SolarEdge Power Optimizers: A Direct Comparison
SolarEdge and Enphase are two of the best solar inverters on the market. Here’s a direct comparison to the latest offering of Green Power Energy to CT residents:
Microinverters vs. Power Optimizer
The primary difference between Enphase and SolarEdge inverters is Enphase is an AC system in parallels and SolarEdge is a DC system in strings. Enphase offers micro inverter-based systems that mount on every solar panel. A direct DC/AC conversion at every panel indicates a more efficient response to a harsh environment for an extended period.
On the contrary, SolarEdge Power Optimizers and Inverters are DC,central inverter systemsat the ground level. Instead of augmenting the inverter to the panels, you may install them in your basement, garage, or your walls, while still maintaining the module level technology through the use of power optimizers. DC/AC conversion for all panels takes place off the array, ideal for situations when these panels produce less power during variable weather and shading conditions.
Provides Panel-Level System Electronics
Both Enphase and SolarEdge take pride in providing panel-level system monitoring. CT residents can check the progress of their solar system from the web or through a smartphone app. These programs can already offer you enough information, including the power your system generates in real-time. It can also provide you with detailed reports on analytics of the kilowatt-hours of electricity your system has generated on any day, week, month, or year. Nonetheless, this feature is vital to determine your system’s efficiency and performance and perform repairs when necessary.
Both SolarEdge and Enphase products offer the ability to retrofit to batteries. SolarEdge collaborated with LG Chem for their RESU battery that powers up to kWh. The iQ7 units of Enphase have 10.1 kWh Enphase recharge batteries. Furthermore, this helps them easily integrate across inverters and software to provide all-in-one solutions.
KW HT Solar Panels w/IQ8A Enphase MicroInverter Grid Tie Kit
Kit includes 31pcs of HT 37W panels, 31pcs of Enphase IQ8A Microinverters and cabling, and the Enphase IQ 4 Combiner box.
This kit currently only ships out of our Gilbert, AZ facility
- 31 pcs of HT Solar 370W panels
- 31 pcs of Enphase IQ8A microinverters
- 31 pcs of Enphase Q Cable and Connectors
- 3 pcs of Enphase terminators1pc of Enphase IQ8 combiner box
- 3 pcs of Eaton BR220 breaker
Add Ons (not included):
- Pmax. 6500WW
- 6 units parallel
- Input V. 120
- Output AC. 120 AC
- Surge power. 15000VA
- Module Efficiency. 93%
- Transfer time. 20ms
- Pure Sine Wave
- Idle Power consumption.
- Battery V. 48V DC
- Low DC Cut-off Voltage. Self-defined 42-48Vdc
- Bulk charging voltage. self defined 48. 62 V
- over protection. 66 VDC
- Max PV array power. 800W (2x 4000w)
- MPPT operation voltage 90-350VDC
- Max solar charge current. 120A
Enphase X-IQ-AM1-240-4 IQ combiner for IQ8 systems
The Enphase IQ Combiner 4 with IQ Gateway. Consolidates interconnection equipment into a single enclosure and streamlines Enphase Energy Systems by providing a consistent, pre-wired solution for residential applications. It offers up to four 2-pole input circuits and Eaton BR series busbar assembly. Compatible with IQ8 Microinverters.
- Includes IQ Gateway for communication and control
- Optional Enphase Mobile Connect modem available separately to be used with IQ Combiner 4 (not included in kit)
- Includes solar shield to match Enphase IQ Battery aesthetics and deflect heat
- Flexible networking supports Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or cellular
- Optional AC receptacle available for PLC bridge
- Provides production metering and consumption monitoring
- Centered mounting brackets support single stud mounting
- Supports bottom, back, and side conduit entry
- Up to four 2-pole branch circuits for 240VAC plug-in breakers (not included) with hold down kit support
- Durable NRTL-certified NEMA type 3R enclosure
- Five-year limited warranty
- Two years labor reimbursement program coverage included
- Compatible with IQ8-Series and IQ7-Series Microinverters
- UL listed
ENPHASE, IQ8A-72-2-US, MC4 DC INPUTS, MICRO-INVERTER
Our newest IQ8A Microinverters are the industry’s first grid-forming microinverters with split-phase power conversion capability to convert DC power to AC power efficiently.
The brain of the semiconductor-based microinverter is our proprietary application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) which enables the microinverter to operate in grid-tied or off-grid modes. This chip is built in advanced 55nm technology with high-speed digital logic and has super-fast response times to changing loads and grid events, alleviating constraints on battery sizing for home energy systems.
Part of the Enphase Energy System, IQ8A Microinverters integrate with the Enphase IQ Battery, Enphase IQ Gateway, and the Enphase App monitoring and analysis software.
IQ8A Microinverters redefine reliability standards with more than one million cumulative hours of power-on testing, enabling an industry-leading limited warranty of up to 25 years.
Connect PV modules quickly and easily to IQ8A Microinverters using the included Q-DCC-2 adapter cable with plug-n-play MC4 connectors.
IQ8A Microinverters are UL Listed as PV Rapid Shut Down Equipment and conform with various regulations, when installed according to manufacturer’s instructions.
To purchase this product, please contact you’re local authorized Enphase distributor.
- Lightweight and compact with plug-n-play connectors
- Power Line Communication (PLC) between components
- Faster installation with simple two-wire cabling
- Produce power even when the grid is down
- than one million cumulative hours of testing
- Class II double-insulated enclosure
- Optimized for the latest high-powered PV modules
- Complies with the latest advanced grid support
- Remote automatic updates for the latest grid requirements
- Configurable to support a wide range of grid profiles
- Meets CA Rule 21 (UL 1741-SA) requirements
- Peak output power: 366 VA
- Input power: 295. 500 W
- Maximum continuous output power: 349 VA
- Operating range: 25. 58 V
- Length 212.00 mm
- Width 175.00 mm
- Height 30.20 mm
- Weight 2.38 lbs