Most residential solar energy inverters shut off for safety reasons if the grid powers down – something that happened in Florida after Hurricane Irma. But Enphase Energy is developing inverters that allow a home to continue to be powered by solar if the grid crashes. According to Electrek, Enphase’s Chief Product Officer Raghu Belur even suggested the inverters could let solar power a home without the grid or batteries.
In a fourth quarter earnings call, Enphase discussed an upcoming line of solar inverters. They’re reportedly developing the inverters as part of their Solar 2.0 grid-independent technology. If a power grid goes down, many inverters typically shut off to protect repair crews working on the lines. But a transcript of the call reads, “Most customers are unaware of this limitation (automatic shut off) with today’s solar technology. So, to address this limitation we have invented a micro-inverter technology that is completely grid agnostic. This means that even if the grid fails and there is sufficient sunlight, the Enphase system will continue to produce energy and meet the demands of the home of business.”
Enphase has been working to lower microinverter costs by improving the design of the technology. They described their IQ6 microinverters as smarter, lighter, and faster in a recent presentation, but are already looking forward to the future to their Ensemble line, which will weigh less, include more ASIC gates, and offer increased maximum power. The technology could be available in 2019.
Electrek reported the inverter might be able to operate independently of the grid before being associated with AC battery technology. The transcript of the call does read, “The Enphase microinverter system’s capabilities further enhanced when the Ensemble technology is incorporated into our AC battery storage solution.” Enphase’s technology could benefit the 1.2 billion people in the world who have little to no access to a power grid.