An Enphase Ensemble Installation

svetz

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Pouring outside, yet the panels are still cranking out 26W each!
 

svetz

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Saw that Enphase shipped 830 MW of microinverters in Q1 and is hampered by component shortages. If the average house has 10 kW, that's 27k homes getting solar per month with just Enphase.

Also saw this on the Enphase community support, a response from Enphase:

When your system is commissioned - the IQ8 microinverters will be informed by the IQ Envoy that an Enpower smart switch is available. The Enpower smart switch's presence enables the IQ8 microinverters to form a grid and produce power when your utility power is down. If the Enpower smart switch goes missing, is removed or was not installed/commissioned - the IQ8 microinverters would be or would revert to being grid tied i.e. they would only function when the utility grid is detected.

So, to get the IQ8s to work off-grid you'll need an Envoy and an Enpower.
 

svetz

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Did a battery test this morning on the Ensemble system, everything went perfectly.

Then I ran the SoC up to 100% and will probably leave it there for a few days.

Saw the balancing messages in the log (i.e., EnchargeSoCCalibrated), so that confirms
my belief that the system only ever top-balances (that is you might want to run it up
to 100% and let it balance every few months). Once I stop getting balance messages
I'll set the SoC to 80% in prep for this summer's storms.

NOAA is calling for 2021 to be above-normal... but only 3 to 5 major hurricanes
sounds pretty good after the last few years.

For 2021, a likely range of 13 to 20 named storms (winds of 39 mph or higher), of which 6 to 10
could become hurricanes (winds of 74 mph or higher), including 3 to 5 major hurricanes
(category 3, 4 or 5; with winds of 111 mph or higher) is expected.
11009.jpeg
 
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WildLeg

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I saw that note too about IQ8PV requiring enpower and an envoy. Makes sense. For IQ8PV to function correctly it needs load control to protect larger loads.
 

svetz

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Just noticed some revs changes, currently:
Profile: IEEE 1547:2015-WHB, "version": "1.2.17",​
Encharge: 1.2.3734_rel/20.46 (all the same release number, yea!)​
Enpower: 1.2.3734_rel/20.46 (same release number as Encharge? That's new)​
Envoy: D6.0.99, Security 2.0 (Not sure if the 2.0 is new or not, given Colonial it wouldn't surprise me)​
IQ7s: 4.27.04 (The six replacements are still at the March 4.18.02 version, guess I'll need to open a ticket)​
 

GXMnow

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My iQ7's are all running image "520-00082-r01-v04.27.04"
updated 03/09/2021

My Envoy is on software D5.0.49 (77afa8) with a build date of March 19, 2020 so that is over a year old. Security on mine is also 02.00.00 so I don't think that really means anything. The line above that says "security 500-00016-r01" is that the same as yours?

From that description on the iQ8PV, it sounds like it will operate just like an iQ7 if it does not see the Empower switch. I had thought about swapping out some of my array, but now it seems like there is no point. My Schneider XW-Pro can grid form for up to about 6,000 watts of Enphase inverters. It has it's own anti islanding transfer switch, and can handle more surge current. If I used iQ8's, the grid forming might actually conflict.

I had mixed feelings, and really thought about holding out for Ensemble, to have all the gear work seamlessly together. I really wanted to go with it, the system sounds great, and your reports do show it getting better and better. It certainly does some things better than what I can do with my mixed setup. When my battery bank does give up, maybe Enphase will have all the kinks worked out and maybe the cost of the EnCharge batteries will come down a bit. Not holding my breath there. I may have a deal on another set of 3 Chevy Bolt modules. If I double my battery bank, it should hold me over for many years. With the grid up, I will still only be cycling 10-12 KWH a day, so they will be coasting along.

I just looked at my log again as I was checking my version numbers. My inverters actually started coming online at just 5:50 am today. They obviously were not making much power yet, but by 6 am, my array made nearly 100 watt hours. It's not even 10:30 yet, and my system has produced 4.8 KWHs. The Envoy live reading is showing 2.95 KW coming in from the array now. And I still have not cleaned off the soot from the last brush fire. The panels look filthy.

Enphase is certainly good stuff. And their tech people are so much easier to deal with than Schneider.
 

svetz

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The line above that says "security 500-00016-r01" is that the same as yours?
Yep!
... I had thought about swapping out some of my array, but now it seems like there is no point. My Schneider XW-Pro can grid form for up to about 6,000 watts of Enphase inverters. It has it's own anti islanding transfer switch, and can handle more surge current.
You've also have the ability to (and did) DIY your own battery. Despite Enphase knocking the price down on their Encharges (last saw it for $7500) that's $750/kWh, that's still 6x the last is this battery any good price I saw on the forums (~$120/kWh).

...When my battery bank does give up, maybe Enphase will have all the kinks worked out and maybe the cost of the EnCharge batteries will come down a bit. Not holding my breath there. I may have a deal on another set of 3 Chevy Bolt modules. If I double my battery bank, it should hold me over for many years. With the grid up, I will still only be cycling 10-12 KWH a day, so they will be coasting along.
I figure by the time I figure out how to augment my system for something affordable they'll probably bring the price down to something affordable. Or, the competition will. ;)

... My inverters actually started coming online at just 5:50 am today.
Summer Solstice is still on the way... ☀️ ... so get that soot washed off! ;)
 

WildLeg

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You can now purchase Encharge/ensemble equipment directly from the Enphase store and the prices are significantly cheaper than they were. Encharge 10 is $6720 and enpower smart switch is $1200!
 

GXMnow

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Summer Solstice is still on the way... ☀️ ... so get that soot washed off! ;)
Just climbed off the roof. I only hosed off the upper roof. It is real creepy to actually climb up there, but I car wash brush on the lower roof panels. They were all producing within a few watts of each other. Guess we will see if brushing off the pollen and bird crap makes a real difference. The ash and soot from the fires all seemed to rinse off quite easily.

EnCharge 10 for $6,720 is a solid 30% less than I was quoted early last year, and $1,200 for the EmPower smart is not too bad. But that is still near double what I spent for my Schneider XW-Pro and Gateway, and my 18 KWH of battery bank. Then again, I did get some real good pricing from "Real Goods" for the inverter. And the price on the Chevy Bolt battery modules from Battery Hookup was just crazy cheap. I spent about another $1,000 for all of the little odds and ends to put it together. But it is a pain that it does not seamlessly handle the time of use power shifting with the AC coupled EnPhase solar. The big question though.... Is having the integrated all Enphase worth the extra cost? And from following this thread, it sure has some advantages. If I was just looking into adding the storage today, I would have a very tough time deciding at the new price point.

I do have to wonder how my local electrical inspection would handle adding all those iQ8 inverters in the EnCharge10? I would probably need 2 of them, which is 24 inverters. I know it should not happen, but in theory, they could all try to push an amp to the grid. Plus my existing 16 inverters. That would be 30 amps. Oops. I would need a 40 amp breaker, and I only have a 100 amp panel.
 

Hedges

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I know it should not happen, but in theory, they could all try to push an amp to the grid. Plus my existing 16 inverters. That would be 30 amps. Oops. I would need a 40 amp breaker, and I only have a 100 amp panel.

The regulatory limit is 120% (main breaker + PV breaker)/busbar rating.
The technical limit is 200%. Below that, busbar won't get any warmer than normal operation.

Only reason for the regulatory limit was so no harm was likely if someone later relocated the PV breaker adjacent to the main breaker.
 

svetz

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Ran across another battery oddity... when I set the battery level to be 80% of Friday morning, I got an EnchargeSoCCalibrated event. No similar events since then (about 26 hours).

....IQ7s: 4.27.04 (The six replacements are still at the March 4.18.02 version, guess I'll need to open a ticket)
Apparently, that version is only for specific serial numbers... they replied:

... the microinverters that needs firmware upgrade should fall in the serial numbers between 121923000000 -122023999999 or 201923000000 -202023999999.
It's probably necessary to be timely, but it's frightening that they have track releases to S/Ns. It doesn't speak well of them as the chances for confusion/mistakes go way up. Hopefully, it's a temporary thing and it'll get merged into a single release soon.

I notice now that some IQ7 S/Ns start with 48 and some with 12, I'm guessing those have to do with the point of origin and possibly have differently sourced components.
 
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GXMnow

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At the company I work for, we sell a few items that use a server PC motherboard. Servers go end of life in about 3 years, but we keep selling products for 10+ years. When we have to switch out to a different motherboard, we have had to update the software to run on the new board, even though the external product is the same thing. A few times, it has made our release software package get quite a bit larger as it has to detect which board you have to know which drivers and patches to install. It is possible at some serial number, Enphase had to change to a new MCU chip that has some different instructions or i/o mapping etc. Making a new version, just for the new chip would be nice and small, but making a firmware package that will work on either version could be a bit more difficult.
 

svetz

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Not quite sure what I'll do based on the Enphase Generator brief. I have a generator, but it has a manual choke so even though it has an "autostart" two wire configuration it needs human intervention to actually get it going. I could work around that, but not sure it's worth the bother.

What I really want to be able to do is just plug the generator in and manually charge the batteries (I don't expect to have to do it ever, just want to be prepared if necessary).

Page 8 shows the generator L1/2/N. I don't see why I couldn't hook one of these into it and then set it up in the toolkit to only run manually.

Another idea occurred to me too. I've long been wondering how I could supplement the batteries with a cheaper DIY system. Seems to me, you could do it through this same connection.
 

GXMnow

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How many LFP cells are in series in each Encharge3? If you just paralleled more cells, what would it do? Obviously, the coulomb counter would still think the battery should be dead when you have a lot of charge left, but would the voltage holding up allow it to run longer? I have not tried it on my BMS, but I think if it runs down, it will just sit at 0% remaining and keep putting out power as long as all of the cells still have good voltage.
 

svetz

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If you just paralleled more cells, what would it do?
Don't know, but it would probably void the warranty and they were too expensive for me to go there. Right now I've two future possibilities: an IQ8 add-on pack or the generator port. I also expect that as microgrids become more common, we'll see more 3rd party microgrid-tied inverters. Although maybe not, they'd be great for off-gridders to expand their existing system and there are plenty of them about.

The IQ8 add-on pack might be a fun project, but they're not out and I don't know enough about them. Using the generator port might be a fun project too, for example I think (not sure) the Victron Multiplus's output could go to the Enpower generator, then I could supply my own battery pack, and still plug the generator into the Victron. Plus, I might be able to parallel those units should I decide I need more kWh in the future.
 

GXMnow

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When I had my power failure a couple months ago, I tried using my old generator with my Schneider XW-Pro. I ran into a big problem. The governor on my old generator is not working great. It was overshooting a bit, so when the load changed, the frequency would bounce too much and the XW-Pro kept disconnecting from it. I had to replace the cab on it and I think the linkage arm is at a different angle. I was able to dial it in to run 60 HZ at a fixed 600 watts of load, but when the XW-Pro tried to ramp up to a 2,000 watt load, it went goofy. The frequency dropped below 45 HZ and then jumped over 65. I ended up just plugging my refrigerator and a 600 watt charger directly into the generator and it ran those just fine. The 600 watts of charge was a little more than all the load on the XW so the battery bank was very slowly charging. But running my 5,000 watt generator at just over 1,000 watts, it is not very efficient and I burned quite a lot of gas in just 2 hours. I am going to mess with the governor and see if I can get it to hold better, an I also found in the XW settings where I can widen the frequency range for the generator input. I am willing to bet the Enphase system is going to be just as picky if not more so on the generator. To be on the safe side, I shut off the breaker to my Enphase iQ7's when I was trying to use the generator.
 

Hedges

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Using generator to charge battery would get around the AC frequency & voltage regulation issue.
My Sunny Island accepts power from generator (and avoid backfeeding it), but that requires a transfer switch to disconnect grid from its single input. And suitably stable generator, of course.
With a battery shunt, could power a battery charger.

Feeding generator to an AC coupled GT inverter would present the power same as PV, allowing battery inverter to control it by frequency shift, and taking what it wants for charging. I would want a soft-start circuit somewhere between generator, rectifier, inverter PV input capacitors. Some GT inverters like my older Sunny Boy have wind-turbine and hydro-turbine algorithms in addition to MPPT for PV.

EnPhase of course programs their microinverters to be battery inverters. Don't know how well the PV units would perform with generator input, but they do significantly over-panel them. Rectify AC (stepped down to suitable Vpeak) and apply in parallel with PV panel?
 

svetz

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Will I ever be heard from again? :unsure:

Just because the pole is a little warped and the guy wires loose, they power company wants to replace the pole. So, power and internet will be out until they get it replaced... (possibly longer, don't know the power company cares about the internet cable)... they're outside now... huge auger... They're also going to cut back the tree. I told them yesterday to watch out for the gator, I think they thought I was joking though.

1625746006165.png
(the gator is pretty shy, don't worry about her...she'll probably run off from the racket they're making)

Update: They got the new pole in without taking out the hydrant, but they haven't started the electrical yet. I suspect they're waiting for tomorrow when it'll be hotter. That augered hole must be 12' deep.
 
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svetz

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They still haven't been by to switch the power to the new pole yet, probably too much rain & lightning or perhaps the new pole has to settle?

Went over to my sister-in-law's to fix her system (changed the network). Naturally, the Envoy wouldn't let me do it (cycle screen of death) and I had to call in for tech support. 1 hour and 20 minutes later it's running.

But... while chatting during that time he told me about an upcoming/exciting patch that would increase the ratio of panels to the IQ8s. That will be a very welcome change. (Current pairing guidelines)
 
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