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Ensemble™ Technology Coming to Hurricane Alley

Feb 03, 2020

If you live in one of the many disaster-prone regions of the world, it can be quite scary when disaster strikes.  Living in Hurricane Alley in Florida through Hurricane Irma in 2017, the only words to describe this period was “apocalyptic”; the gas stations closed, Walmart ran out of propane, streets were emptied and energy security was in serious jeopardy.  Whether you believe in climate change or not, weather-related crises seem to be occurring more frequently around the globe, so having a home energy solution that provides true energy security is ideal. 

Losing the high-living standards we’ve become accustomed to — electricity, running water, A/C, heating, refrigeration, et cetera, is always a possibility.  Irma was reported to be 4-times wider than any hurricane on record and had the chance to drive straight up through and cover the entire state of Florida, causing one of the worst disasters ever.  Luckily, Irma dumped most of her payload of water in the Gulf of Mexico, and Florida was spared.  However, many lost power, some for up to a month; we lost power for five days, but had it been for more than a week, our propane would have been exhausted.  I should not be complaining, for further south of us, Puerto Rico got a direct hit by Hurricane Maria a few weeks later, and many there were without power for six months or more.

As Hurricane Irma approached, it was like a monster storm in the sky with winds of 140+MPH, and as expected, we lost power because the lines and poles of our electric utilities were the weakness, and when they break, the inferiority of a centralized power topology becomes evident.  Thankfully, our solar panels and roofing held strong, and we didn’t lose a single panel.  After the storm passed, we had no idea when power would be restored.  Luckily, we had enough propane to keep the refrigerators, freezers, lights, and water going, but we had to conserve and use our generator sparingly.  As was to be expected, after the hurricane, the days that followed were typical of the Sunshine State — sunny, sunny, sunny; however, because our grid-connected solar system adhered to “anti-islanding” regulations, it would remain inoperable until grid power was restored.  With 85 solar panels, it was ludicrous that we had no power, especially when there were the means to produce it.

This paradox of having the means to produce energy, but not being able to when the utility grid is down, is what Enphase’s Ensemble™ addresses; it is an energy management technology which takes an “anti-islanding” solar system and enables it to work even when the utility is not, while still adhering to the utility’s regulations for interconnectivity; the Ensemble technology makes a solar system “grid-agnostic”, and provides a level of energy security that has never been available to the millions of “anti-islanding” solar systems currently out there.  Enphase Energy’s Ensemble gives customer energy security in facing weather disasters that will surely occur in the future.

Co-founder and Chief Technology Office, Raghu Belur, stated long ago when announcing Ensemble that Enphase had “cracked the code” with this technological breakthrough, and they have.  Yes, there are off-grid solutions on the market with hulking storage batteries, but Enphase’s Ensemble is an entirely different kind of solution and a uniquely independent one.  All competing off-grid solutions require large amounts of storage to operate, but with Enphase’s, the solar PV and storage work in tandem and not separate.

Ensemble software technology is embedded in an ARM RISC processor on Enphase’s newest microinverter, and is able to provide off-grid capability; these newest “intelligent” microinverters are capable of forming a microgrid when the utility power fails.  Ensemble storage includes an Encharge™ 3.4kWh and a 10.1kWh model, each with four and twelve IQ8™ microinverters, respectively; it is these IQ8 microinverters which provide the magic for an Enphase energy solution to operate regardless of the utility grid’s status.

With Ensemble, our Enphase solar system will be able to provide us more than enough power during the day, some Encharge battery power at night, and generator power only if necessary.  Unlike the last hurricane where generators were the primary source of power, with Ensemble, the generators will be demoted to secondary status and used much less.

Ensemble is now available to pre-order.  Like many living in the disaster-prone regions of the world, having a home energy system is now possible and affordable.  In 2020, I plan on upgrading my solar system to Ensemble by adding Encharge™ storage, an Envoy™ and an Enpower™ smart switch.  Hopefully, someday the decentralized power topology which Enphase energy systems represent will be as ubiquitous as the Dot-com-era slogan of having a PC on every desktop.  Decentralized power is the safest, most reliable power on the planet, and Enphase Energy’s Ensemble is the manifestation of that.

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