Enphase IQ Batteries: Features, Installation, and Cost
Pairing solar panels with battery storage is an opportunity to gain unprecedented control over your energy costs. While Enphase is best known for its microinverters, they’ve splashed onto the residential energy storage scene with modular, durable, and affordable batteries.
In this article, we’re putting Enphase IQ Batteries under the microscope with a close look at:
- Enphase Energy System components
- Notable IQ Battery features
- IQ Battery sizes and models
- Installation and service
- Enphase battery cost
- Overall grade
Let’s dive in with a brief overview of the components that make up the Enphase Energy System.
Batteries are just one product in the Enphase Energy System. Other components include system controllers, combiners, microinverters, and the Enphase Enlighten monitoring app.
The table below shows which Enphase components are required for three common types of home energy systems.
|Enphase Components||Solar-only||Solar with consumption-only battery (no backup)||Solar with backup battery|
|Enphase Enlighten App||X||X||X|
|IQ Battery Storage||X||X|
*Backup capabilities may require a critical loads panel and/or an IQ Load Controller.
Let’s take a quick look at each component to see what it does and how it interacts within the home energy ecosystem.
Enphase IQ Batteries
Simply put, Enphase IQ Batteries store excess solar energy for later use. You can use that energy on a daily basis to avoid buying electricity from the grid (known as solar self-consumption) or save it to provide backup power during grid outages.
Enphase batteries integrate seamlessly with other Enphase components to enhance overall system efficiency and reliability. They can also work with non-Enphase components but may be more difficult to install and have limited functionality.
Enphase System Controller
The Enphase System Controller serves as the brain of the system and directs traffic between the solar system, battery storage, home, and grid. This component is required in order to provide backup power when the grid goes down.
- When the utility grid is active, the system controller decides whether to use solar production to power your home, charge your battery, or export onto the grid.
- When it detects an outage, the controller automatically disconnects your solar and battery system from the grid for a near-instant transition to backup mode.
Solar inverters change the DC electricity produced by solar panels into AC electricity that powers home systems and flows through the grid. Enphase’s microinverters are unique in that they attach to the bottom of each panel and perform the inversion before the current leaves the solar panel.
This is quite different than a string inverter, which is a single box that mounts to your house and performs the inversions for multiple solar panels.
Compared to string inverters, microinverters:
- Make it possible to track the production of each panel
- Allow each panel to perform independently, which can increase efficiency and performance
- Make adding solar panels easier and less expensive
Learn more about the difference between string inverters and microinverters here.
As the name suggests, the Enphpase IQ Combiner consolidates the wiring from the microinverters on each solar panel to create a single connection to the grid. This device enhances safety, improves installation efficiency, and allows for seamless integration with the Enphase IQ Batteries and System Controller.
Enphase Enlighten App
The Enphase App provides real-time insights into your energy production, storage, and consumption. Through this interface, you can monitor your Enphase system’s performance, troubleshoot issues, and even control your Enphase IQ Batteries remotely.
Features of Enphase IQ Batteries
Before exploring the individual IQ Battery models, let’s take a look at some core features that may help you choose between Enphase and the other top solar battery brands on the market.
To start, all of Enphase’s IQ batteries are AC-coupled, as opposed to DC-coupled. The key difference in AC- and DC-coupled battery systems is when and where the DC electricity produced by solar panels is inverted into AC electricity that powers home systems and the local utility grid, as shown in the graphic below.
The advantage of AC-coupled batteries is that they are easier to configure into existing solar systems, especially in systems with microinverters where the solar inversion happens on the panel itself.
The disadvantage of AC-coupled batteries is that a little bit of energy is lost to heat during each inversion, which reduces the round-trip efficiency of the battery system. In other words, you get less solar energy out of your battery than you put in.
If you already have solar panels — especially ones with Enphase microinverters — then Enphase’s IQ batteries make a great fit. If you are installing solar panels and battery storage all at once, you have a unique opportunity to invest in a more efficient DC-coupled battery.
Lithium iron phosphate (LFP) chemistry
Enphase’s IQ Batteries feature a lithium iron phosphate (LFP) chemistry, which offers distinct advantages over other lithium-ion chemistries used in the Tesla Powerwall, Generac PWRcell, and LG batteries.
Most importantly, LFP chemistry virtually eliminates the risk of fires due to thermal runaway, which is a rare — but nonetheless present — occurrence in other lithium-ion chemistries that are unproperly installed. LFP batteries also last longer and can be discharged deeper (up to 100% without damaging the battery, in some cases!).
LFP batteries are especially suited for solar self-consumption because they are quite resilient to frequent charge and discharge cycles and prefer to operate a low average state of discharge.
Enphase Monitoring and Customer Support
One often overlooked feature when comparing solar battery brands is monitoring software and customer support. When it comes to monitoring your battery’s performance, the Enphase Enlighten app is highly regarded by customers and industry professionals. The Enphase App currently has 4.6 out of 5 stars with nearly 60,000 ratings on the Apple App store. For comparison, the Tesla app used to monitor the Powerwall has 3.7 stars through 12,000 ratings.
As for customer support, Enphase gets mixed reviews — which is par for the course in the tech industry. On Reddit, customer support experiences seem to be generally positive and constructive. Meanwhile, Enphase has 1.29 out of 5 stars of BBB, which seems awful until you put it in the context of Tesla’s 1.08 stars and SolarEdge’s 2.18 stars.
Enphase IQ Battery Models
Now that we have a sense of what sets Enphase apart from other battery brands, let’s take a closer look at their individual battery products.
Enphase offers five IQ battery models that are divided into two generations. The 2nd generation models include the IQ Battery 3/3T and 10/10T. The IQ Battery 5P is the only 3rd generation battery (so far).
Some quick tips:
- The model number correlates to the battery’s usable capacity in kilowatt-hours (kWh)
- The “T” presumably stands for thin, as the 3T and 10T are smaller and lighter than their counterparts
Let’s take a closer look at the strengths and weaknesses of each model.
IQ Battery 3 and 3T
The IQ Battery 3/3T boasts 3.36 kWh of usable capacity, which is quite small for residential storage. So why would Enphase offer such a small battery?
The value of the IQ 3/3T boils down to its modularity — or the ability to stack together smaller batteries to create more precisely-sized systems. For example, if your primary goal is bill savings, you can stack two IQ 3’s together to get 6.72 kWh of usable capacity for meaningful solar self-consumption without spending the extra money on a 10-15 kWh battery.
Better yet, you can combine IQ 3’s with IQ 10’s (since they are both 2nd generation Enphase products) to more precisely configure larger-sized battery systems.
Enphase IQ Battery 3/3T Specs
|IQ 3||IQ 3T|
|Usable capacity||3.36 kWh||3.36 kWh|
|Peak power||1.92 kW||1.92 kW|
|Continuous power||1.28 kW||1.28 kW|
|Dimensions (WxHxD)||14.5″ x 26″ x 12.5||16.9″ × 30.5″ × 7.4″|
|Weight (installed weight)||114.6 pounds||107.6 pounds|
IQ 3/3T Component Compatability
As a 2nd generation product, the IQ 3/3T batteries are compatible with the following Enphase components:
- IQ Battery 3/3T/10/10T
- IQ Microinverters
- IQ System Controller 1/2
- Communication Kit
- IQ Combiner 3-ES/3C-ES/4/4C
- M Series Microinverters
Notably, you cannot combine the 3/3T with the new IQ 5P battery or 3rd generation controllers or combiners.
IQ Battery 10 and 10T
With 10.08 kWh of usable capacity, the IQ 10/10T is the largest battery offered by Enphase. This makes them well-suited for backing up essential systems during grid outages and powering larger loads in solar self-consumption mode.
The IQ 10 and 10T maintain the modularity characteristic of Enphase batteries, allowing for flexible system configurations. However, its peak power (5.7 kW) and continuous power (3.8 kW) outputs are quite low for a battery of this size and may limit the systems it can effectively back up.
Enphase IQ Battery 10/10T Specs
|IQ 10||IQ 10T|
|Usable capacity||10.08 kWh||10.08 kWh|
|Peak power||5.7 kW||5.7 kW|
|Continuous power||3.84 kW||3.84 kW|
|Dimensions (WxHxD)||42.13″ x 26.14″ x 12.56″||50.5″ × 30.5″ × 7.4″|
|Weight (installed weight)||341 pounds||316.5 pounds|
IQ 10/10TT Component Compatability
As a 2nd generation product, the IQ 10/10T batteries are compatible with the following Enphase components:
- IQ Battery 3/3T/10/10T
- IQ Microinverters
- IQ System Controller 1/2
- Communication Kit
- IQ Combiner 3-ES/3C-ES/4/4C
- M Series Microinverters
The 10/10T can not be combined with the new IQ 5P battery or 3rd generation controllers or combiners.
IQ Battery 5P
The IQ 5P is the only 3rd generation battery and features a drastic improvement in peak/continuous power output and slight improvements to round-trip efficiency. In fact, two 5P’s stacked together provide more power than comparable and larger-sized batteries.
With 4.96 kWh of usable capacity, the 5P is still very modular, even if it can’t be combined with the 2nd generation batteries mentioned above.
The IQ 5P also boasts a 15-year warranty, which is substantially longer the the industry-standard 10-year warranty.
Enphase IQ Battery 5P specs
|IQ 5P (1 unit)||Two IQ 5P (2 units)|
|Usable capacity||4.96 kWh||9.92 kWh|
|Peak power||7.68 kW||15.36 kWh|
|Continuous power||3.84 kW||7.68|
|Dimensions (WxHxD)||38.6″ x 21.7″ x 7.4″||2x single unit|
|Weight (installed weight)||174 pounds||2x single unit|
IQ 5P Compatability
As a 3rd generation Enphase product, the 5P battery is compatible with different controllers, combiners, and other components than the 2nd generation 3/10.
- IQ Series Microinverters
- M Series Microinverters*
- IQ System Controller 3/3G
- IQ Combiner 5/5C
- Comms Kit 2
- Control cable
- Floor mount pedestal
- IQ Battery 5P lifting handles
*Only in certain states
Enphase IQ Battery Installation and Service
Another important feature of solar batteries is the installation and service process. After all, this isn’t a AAA battery that you simply plop into your TV remote. Proper battery installation ensures maximum efficiency, bill savings, and backup power for outages — so it’s important to work with a trained installation specialist.
Here’s what that process looks like.
Like most solar and battery manufacturers, Enphase itself doesn’t perform battery installations. It trains and certifies solar and battery installers across the country to handle its products.
So, if you want to install an Enphase battery — or any Enphase products– you’ll first have to find a local installer that carries these products. You can call around and vet installers yourself, or simply compare quotes from local installers on solar.com and tell your Energy Advisor you’re specifically interested in Enphase batteries.
One thing you might run into is installers that offer Enphase batteries but are reluctant to install them and instead try to steer customers toward other options. This is likely a lingering after-effect of a minor firmware issue that caused communication errors (and headaches for installers) in 2nd generation Enphase batteries. The error has since been resolved and was never present in the 5P. However, it appears to have given Enphase batteries a reputation for being difficult to install.
Service and Maintenance
In a vast majority of cases, the company that originally installs your Enphase battery will also perform service and maintenance if issues arise.
In general, LFP batteries require little-to-no maintenance aside from keeping the area around them clean, dry, and cool. However, if you notice an anomaly or change in battery performance on your Enphase App then your first course of action should be to call your original installer to diagnose and resolve the issue.
Having a third-party (including yourself) service or handle your battery may void its warranty. For this very reason, you’ll likely find that many installers and electricians will refuse to service a battery they didn’t install.
With that in mind, it is crucial to choose a trusted local installer who:
- Is trained to handle Enphase products
- Has been in business for many years and will be around for 15 or more years to provide service and warranty claims
- Has a proven track record of excellent workmanship and customer service
Enphase batteries tend to be middle-of-the-road when it comes to pricing. Expect to pay around $1,000 per kWh of capacity (after claiming the 30% tax credit), and much less if you opt for a consumption-only configuration that does not provide backup power.
However, battery prices can vary quite a bit based on the installer and the full scope of work. For example, it’s typically more cost-effective (in cost per kWh) to install solar and battery together than it is to install battery on its own.
The best way to get a sense of fair pricing is to get at least three quotes from local installers.
Overall, we’re giving Enphase IQ Batteries a solid B, while maintaining our right to change this grade as the early reviews of the IQ 5P battery roll-in.
Homeowners can feel confident in this home energy storage option — especially if they already have (or plan to have) other Enphase products like microinverters, combiners, and system controllers.
The key advantages of Enphase IQ batteries are their modularity, LFP chemistry, and the widely-praised Enphase Enlighten monitoring app. The first two things — modularity and LFP chemistry — are especially useful for homeowners looking for a smaller battery to lower their bills through solar self-consumption, which is crucial in areas with weak or non-existent net metering policies.
The main disadvantage of Enphase IQ batteries is the relatively low peak and continuous power outputs in 2nd generation storage products, which may limit the size and number of systems you can run in backup mode. However, this issue was addressed in the 3rd generation 5P.
You may also find that some installers are reluctant to sell and install Enphase batteries based on a lingering reputation for being difficult to install. It’s not our place to say whether this reputation is warranted or not, but this is something to be aware of when you’re shopping for batteries.
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