Enphase Energy has announced the release of their long-anticipated IQ8 microinverters. IQ8 is Enphase’s most advanced microinverter yet and looks to be a residential solar game-changer. The breakthrough technology of the new IQ8 microinverter is in its capability to power items within a household using only sunlight when the grid is down, unlike previous inverters.
What Does This New Technology Mean For Me?
Many homeowners often assume their solar systems will function if the sun shines, even during a power outage. This has unfortunately not been true until today. In a grid-down scenario, a typical solar microinverter would turn off to comply with the National Electric Code. Today the IQ8 can disconnect your home from the grid and power certain appliances without purchasing a full household battery backup, which was previously necessary.
This feature is an incredible advancement in solar technology; however, our assessment is that this development is not the key benefit to our customers. Without some form of battery backup to stabilize the power within the house, anytime a cloud passes over your home, the power will flicker or turn off entirely. I.e., lights turn off, Wifi disconnects, and water pumps stop. To avoid power constantly turning on and off, a small battery backup at minimum is a crucial component of any system that includes the IQ8 microinverter.
IQ8’s Main Benefit
From our perspective, the main benefit of this new technology is the microinverter’s ability to allow battery storage of any size to be installed, even with large solar arrays. Previously, with microinverters, your battery’s storage size depended on the size of your solar system.
For example, a typical 20-panel solar array would need at least a 10kW battery (or larger) for all panels to function with the battery system. With the new IQ8 microinverters, this limitation is no longer an issue. A solar array of any size with the IQ8 can include a small battery to simply smooth the energy flow when the grid is down, allowing critical loads to be powered without the investment needed for whole-home battery backup.
What if I want to change my current system to IQ8?
Converting your existing system to IQ8 is unfortunately not a simple one-for-one swap. A smart panel would need to be added to run the items you desire in a power outage, requiring extensive electrical work. This may be more expensive than adding the correct-size batteries for your current system instead of upgrading to IQ8 and installing a smaller battery. From what we know so far, our initial estimate for an upgrade to an existing typical 10kW system is a minimum of $13,000 – $15,000 but could run higher depending on your home’s electrical setup.
Every project is unique, so be sure to speak with our sales team if you have questions. We look forward to talking with you about the IQ8!