What you need to know about solar monitoring
So you’ve taken the path to a greener home, installing a solar power system that will generate savings and reduce your dependency on the electrical grid. This doesn’t mean that you get to sit on your couch and let your system do all the work. The panels might not be functioning properly, so if you don’t have any kind of supervision, your investment is mostly a waste. To make sure your panels are at peak efficiency, you’ll need to have a solar monitoring software.
What is solar monitoring?
In short, solar monitoring involves real-time supervision and analysis of your PV system, checking the energy production and consumption levels to ensure optimal usage while minimising possible damage. A system that aids this cause will let you observe the number of kilowatt hours of energy your setup is generating, and consequently, the amount of money you’re saving.
How do solar monitoring systems work?
The type of platform you use depends on the manufacturer of your panels since different brands will have their proprietary applications for solar monitoring. These applications rely on the solar inverter to deliver the necessary statistics and data. Information is collected as your inverter converts DC power to AC power and feeds your general usage requirements on a daily basis.
For the most part, these applications rely on cloud platforms to store and view data, allowing you to monitor your panels’ performance on your phone or smart device. Others use on-site applications that are connected to a device in your residence.
These days, most brands try to provide a cellular option so that homeowners can view the data even without Wi-Fi. Should the internet at your home go down, you can still access the information dashboard.
Most systems fall into two categories, those that allow data to be monitored without a Wi-Fi connection, and those that require a Wi-Fi connection. Microinverters rely on a wireless connection to monitor each panel. As a result, if your Wi-Fi connection fails, the data flow will also fail.
On the other hand, we have power optimiser inverters. These also review data from individual panels but don’t require a Wi-Fi connection to do so. There is a lot more customisation available when it comes to observing the data, but the flow of information from the inverter doesn’t stop when the wireless connection goes down.
To read a little more about the differences between these two inverters, check this article.
What data is collected?
We’ll provide a brief overview of the core groups of data collected and reported by most software applications, but depending on each brand, the capabilities may be more, and in some cases, less.
- You can view energy production.
- You can see energy consumption across your household.
- The energy that is exported to the main grid during excess production is displayed.
- The software can also identify possible inefficiencies and defects in the panels.
- This will allow you to bring in the necessary support for maintenance and repairs.
- Calculate your ROI and the savings that have been generated from your investment.
- The application can present historical data.
- You can analyse trends and patterns in energy production and usage over months and years. This will let you get a better picture of how weather and climate affect your setup’s capabilities.
For a long time, it seemed that the inverter provider would cover the solar monitoring system as well. Recently, though, independent solutions have also joined the conversation. Their primary selling point, setting themselves apart from the inverter brands, is more data and information.
Independent service providers are also more proactive when it comes to maintenance and fault identification. These providers have a support team helping you understand your system better, and they notify you of any inefficiencies with your panels as soon as they’re apparent. Consequently, your renewable energy setup is going to have help being in optimal condition for a longer period of time.
We at Earthsave don’t offer solar monitoring applications or software, but we do have a wide array of inverters you can choose from. Since the inverter is a critical component of any solar monitoring mechanism, head over to our website to view the various models, and if you need to talk to someone, feel free to contact us.