Enphase IQ8 Microinverter: Where The Bloody Hell Is It?

Enphase IQ8 microinverter

Enphase Energy indicated when we might finally see its IQ8 microinverter available here in Australia during the company’s latest earnings call.

A microinverter is essentially a miniaturised solar inverter around the size of a paperback book. One is used per solar panel (or one for two panels in some cases) instead of having a single large “string” inverter, such as is used in a conventional solar power system installation. Using microinverters instead of a string inverter adds about 20-30% more to the cost of a solar power system. You can learn more about microinverters and their benefits here.

The world’s biggest manufacturer of microinverters is Enphase Energy. Its products are pretty popular in Australia and Enphase scored a spot on the podium in the SolarQuotes 2022 Installers’ Choice Awards for inverters (as it also did in 2021).

Yesterday the company announced its financial results for the first quarter of 2022, reporting record revenue of USD $441.3 million. The company shipped approximately 2,838,693 microinverters, or 1,029 megawatts DC, and 120.4 megawatt-hours of Enphase IQ Batteries in the first three months of this year.

Just as a comparison, in Q1 last year the company reported quarterly revenue of $301.8 million and 2,452,765 microinverters shipped. But microinverter unit shipments in Q1 2022 were down 6% compared to the fourth quarter of 2021, while IQ Battery shipments were up 20%

Badri Kothandaraman, Enphase President and Chief Executive Officer, described Q1 as “a good quarter” and said the company ramped IQ 8 microinverter shipments in North America; receiving positive feedback about the product “in general”.

What’s The Big Deal About The IQ8?

In a conventional solar power system, if mains grid supply is interrupted so is solar energy supply to the home. This isn’t a bug, but a safety feature called anti-islanding protection. This prevents workers attempting to address the blackout from being zapped by solar systems exporting electricity to the grid, or grid hardware potentially being further damaged.

The IQ8’s standout feature is the ability to form a microgrid during a blackout, preventing exports while providing backup power even without a battery. But you’ll also need other (Enphase) gear to use this feature, and that doesn’t look to be cheap. There are some more details on what’s needed for the IQ8 and approximate costs here, along with information on the unit’s four configuration modes.

IQ8 Microinverter Availability In Australia

I’ve been bugging Enphase for the past 6 months about when we’ll see the IQ8 in Australia. I’ve been told the IQ Battery (which contains IQ8 microinverters) will be here before individual IQ8 devices will be. And in the earnings call yesterday, Mr. Kothandaraman stated:

“In Australia, we expect to introduce IQ batteries in the second half of 2022.”

and …

“We also expect to introduce IQ 8 microinverters internationally into Europe and Australia during the second half of this year.”

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UPDATE: February 10, 2023: Well, that obviously didn’t happen. But during Enphase’s Q4 2022 earnings call held on February 7 2023, Enphase CEO Badri Kothandaraman said he expected to introduce IQ batteries in Australia, along with IQ8 microinverters, in the second quarter of 2023.

So, it appears Australians with a longing to get their hands on the IQ8 will need to long for a while longer… again.

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Side note: among other things, Mr. Kothandaraman also mentioned Enphase expects to introduce a smart EV charger to customers in the U.S. and Europe in early 2023 – no mention of Australia. Enphase completed acquisition of EV charging solutions company ClipperCreek in early January.

UPDATE: February 10, 2023: Regarding the charger, it turns out it will be a bidirectional charger – and it won’t be available this year. Currently, Enphase is shooting for 2024.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

Comments

  1. Hello,

    I am French. I am waiting for the iq8. I was told by a solar stuff dealer that it should be available in june 2022. But I believe that Enphase will not be able to meet the demand and that it will be difficult to be served.
    It’s been more than a year they announced the release in France
    So, I am not sure it is worth waiting.

  2. Chris Thaler says

    The downside of all this ‘extra’ technology is the requirement to obtain and use too much monitoring tech just to remain confident of functions. I had 8 Microinverters in one of my home installs and just got tired of having to download system info on a continuing basis instead of simply walking outside, pressing a switch and seeing all the necessary detail on my preferred daily basis. By keeping it simple, reliability is generally increased.

  3. Robyn Parker says

    I bought my IQ7’s based on the statement from my installer that this software would be rolled out so that IQ7’s would be able to have this capability too. So is that statement rubbish and I will need to totally replace these units with IQ8’s? Not happy…….

    • David Issko says

      Robyn, never ever had I been led to believe that any of the IQ7 micro inverters would be able to form a microgrid during a blackout.

      I had 65 installed on my rooftop in October 2021 and my installer & I discussed the differences between the 7A and the 8. No discussion about any software (or firmware) updates to the 7A (or any other IQ7).

      Besides, in 2021, Enphase released the IQ8 ‘point of difference’ details. It was the IQ8 and only the IQ8 that has, together with some additional expensive hardware, the microgrid capability.

      Even if the IQ7 would have been microgrid capable through the software upgrade, you would still have needed the additional hardware the 8 needs to form the microgrid.

      If what you claim about your installer is true, then they LIED to you and you should report them to Enphase. Did they put any of what you claim they said to you in writing?

    • Brian Davis says

      Hi Robyn and David,

      Just clarifying a bit, most of the documentation around the micro-grid capabilities of the IQ8 indicated that systems with existing IQ7 version micro-inverters could add a certain number of IQ8 micro-inverters (% of the mix varied a bit in the early information) in order to have a functioning micro-grid setup. In other words, as long as a minimum number of IQ8 micro-inverters are added, the IQ7 range are compatible and can be used.

      As there are a number of IQ8 (and IQ9 next year?) micro-inverters in the enphase battery offering, if those are added, then you may have the required number to enable the formation of the micro-grid. Your solar provider should be able to provide the appropriate technical information.

      Cheers,
      Brian

  4. Robyn Parker says

    Hi Brian and David

    Thank you both for replying. I’ve just checked to see whether anything was said in writing and this is what i was told:

    “13/05/2020

    Hi Robyn,

    Please find your quotes attached for both an Enphase micro Inverter system and a Delta Inverter system.

    I’ve included a few documents and videos on Enphase. Enphase will be releasing an update for Inverters from IQ 7 onwards,(current model) early next year which will allow the system to work when the grid goes down. It is called Ensemble and is currently being rolled out in the US. Just a disclaimer, the video says that you will have electricity even at night, this is only possible if you have batteries.”

    I haven’t included the links, as I’m not sure if that is against the policy on this site. I was looking at the Delta inverter as I had heard that it had islanding protection which would allow the system to work when the grid went down. So what happend to Ensemble?

  5. Glenn Marshall says

    Any news on Enphase IQ8 Microinverters availability in Australia? Are they available now or when are the expected to be available?

    • David Brooks says

      I’m in the process of organising solar and as I often get blackouts in my area wanted the iq8 inverters. I asked my installer about the iq8 and he said 12-18 months before they are available, unhappy with the answer I rang enphase myself and was told first half of next year. This annoys me as the Australian website says they will be available sooner and there are videos from 4 months ago (in USA) that show an iq8 system up and running.

      • David Issko says

        David, you do realise that you will require more than just the IQ8 micros if you’re expecting daytime blackout protection. You will require additional (Enphase) modules and most probably an upgrade to your switchboard/circuit breakers.

        Depending on how severe and long your blackouts are, you may also require backup batteries. The micros on their own will offer some limited protection.

        It may be a wise option to consider batteries now if your house has frequent blackouts and go with IQ7a micros.

        Speak to some local installers to ascertain their thoughts on the matter, based on your specific requirements.

  6. Peter Winters says

    I live in a region that has many two-phase supplied homes and businesses. These are either at 120 or 180 degrees. Enphase works perfectly in a two-phase installation and is definitely cost effective and actually cheaper than using two traditional string inverter solutions. The balance of system being substantially cheaper.

  7. There have been some details added to the Enphase Australian website.
    eg now says “COMING IN LATE 2022: ENPHASE IQ BATTERY”.

    The IQ Load Controller looks like it can control which devices you want to work without grid, and which ones you want to shed. From the app. Which seems useful.

    I can’t quite tell if it will be a 3 phase solution though, as most of the docs are based on the US electricity system.

    I am looking for a large 3 phase system, perhaps “Home Essentials Backup” or with the IQ Load Controller, probably just go “Full Energy Independence”.

    Anyone know if it will be a full three phase backup solution?

    And does anyone know if the off-grid capabilities of the IQ8 are true off-grid, or more like a solar hybrid inverter, where it can work without the grid for a day or two eg by changing frequency to 53Hz. But is not intended to be used in an off-grid scenario.

  8. From what I have read, the IQ8 version is single phase only (does this mean you need three separate battery sets to cover the three phases? It would be interesting to know). I gather the IQ9 is three phase compatible, and is to be released (USA?) next year, along with the new batteries (lower cost, higher density) mentioned in the company financial statement releases.

  9. wow, thanks Brian. I have been googling and couldn’t find anything. Your comment is the first mention of the IQ9 providing three phase that I could find- mostly the specifications for the IQ8 mention single phase, but don’t specifically say no three phase.
    I found the source thanks to your comment, page 38 of https://investor.enphase.com/static-files/d54d70fd-2950-4bf1-9676-cfadd55dbfd5

    Given how long the IQ8 are taking to get to Australia, I can’t imagine that the IQ9 are going to be here for a few years yet.

    I have a year or two up my sleeve until installation, so at least I should know more by then.

  10. The iq8 is starting to look like vaporware in Australia, the iq battery now saying early 2023.

  11. Any news on the IQ8 yet? Have asked for some quotes and seriously considering Enphase, but as we just had another blackout today, I’m wondering now if I should just wait for the release of the IQ8? If it’s something like 3 months away I can wait for it but if it’s more like 6 then probably not.

  12. IQ8s were released in France on 30 November 2022, along with announcement of manufacturing in Romania beginning in 2023.
    https://investor.enphase.com/news-releases/news-release-details/enphase-energy-launches-iq8-microinverters-france-and.

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