When it comes to your solar system, you may benefit from additional solar monitoring to optimise your output and increase the return on your solar system. Additional monitoring systems give you real-time data to benchmark your system’s performance and detect any issues and system failures.
This means that without solar monitoring, many owners don’t know the performance and energy output of their solar systems. Without knowing the performance and usage, solar energy can go unutilised.
In this article, we will explain what problems solar monitoring products solve and why you need them to protect your investment and realise the performance potential.
Let’s get started!
1. Additional solar monitoring boosts your solar production
Add-on solar monitoring boosts energy production by giving you real-time information about your system. Solar monitoring products break down the consumption of each appliance, usage, and times when solar energy is going to waste.
Less than 7,000 out of 1.5 million small-scale rooftop solar systems have installed monitoring systems. This implies that the majority of solar PV owners do not have the information they need to boost their solar production.
Solar monitoring software like Solar Analytics and iSolar Cloud keep you accountable for your investment. You are likely to become more invested in getting results from your system because you have live data showing what you produce, consume and export on a daily basis.
Solar Analytics produces real-time reports on how your appliances consume energy, helps you know when to use and switch off, and how to minimise energy waste at night time. It also compares potential energy generation versus your actual generated energy to help you see how much or little you utilise your system.
This information gives you a better understanding of your system. It also means you can change how you consume energy so that you maximise your savings.
You could even get information about how much electricity you buy and sell to the grid. This helps you know how much money you can expect or plan when to store excess electricity in a rechargeable battery for backup power.
Many homes don’t use their system correctly. For a continent that produces 10,000 times more solar energy than it consumes, only about 0.1% of its total energy consumption comes from solar power.
In most cases, you’ll find that you don’t get any real-time data about your solar PV system. Your inverter interface may send you an alert after a couple of days. But, this information does not give you a detailed comparison of your solar PV system’s production capacity versus consumption rate.
2. Protects your investment from a major failure
Add-on solar monitoring takes away the guesswork by detecting faults and sending you real-time warnings so you can respond promptly before a major failure occurs. It also gives you early warnings of equipment failure if a major electrical fault occurs. These warnings help you take action before the fault causes damage to your property or system and prevents lost savings from a faulty system.
Installers often find it difficult to define the exact cause of low output or non-performing solar power systems. Most times, these systems don’t give enough information to help your installer make a correct diagnosis.
Where you’ve sought professional help, your installer is less likely to claim that a complaint is false when you have an add-on monitoring system. The monitoring system simply confirms that the problem exists. The installer’s work is to understand the fault alert and resolve it.
With this quick diagnosis-response process, you can take measures before the solar power system deteriorates and needs expensive replacements.
3. Improves your ROI through real-time system information
Add-on monitoring products give insightful information such as your consumption, system performance, loading time, net electricity sold or bought and diagnostic alerts. The information is relayed in real-time, so you don’t have to wait for days to know the status of your solar power system.
Solar Analytics gives real-time status information on your solar system. The monitoring software sends you an email or SMS alert when the performance drops below the guaranteed minimum.
Similarly, the Fronius solar monitoring system works with the Fronius Smart Meter to monitor the energy flow, consumption, and exported surplus. If your consumption is too high, you could decrease it, so you have more to sell to the grid and save on electricity bills.
Sadly, you may find yourself replacing the system if you don’t have a mechanism for receiving timely status and performance information.
Your solar system inverter may share data such as daily energy production and error messages. But it is not enough. You would need more actionable information to help you get the most out of your solar PV system.
4. Helps to benchmark your system’s performance
A good third-party monitoring software uses baseline performance data and can detect when your panels and inverter are below the minimum benchmark. Once it does, it sends you an alert that your solar PV system is not performing optimally.
An inverter’s online interface gives basic performance data about your solar PV system. This data is often not actionable (figures with no supportive information or guidance), like alerting you when the inverter keeps tripping. Your inverter will send you this alert. But there’s not much you can do with the information. You still won’t know why your inverter keeps tripping.
Add-on solar monitoring tools resolve this weakness by giving you actionable performance data. Instead of merely alerting you when the system trips off, your solar monitor will also inform you if low panel performance caused the system to trip off.
Performance benchmarking also prevents you from over-relying on information from your solar system manufacturer. This is because some shrewd manufacturers may program their inverter not to disclose certain information that would prompt you to make a warranty claim.
A third-party solar monitor is independent and will give you more accurate results on the performance of your solar PV system. This accuracy will help you ascertain your system’s true maximum output and get you claiming if it’s below the minimum guaranteed by the manufacturer. Plus, it helps you calculate a more accurate resale value for your solar PV system.
5. Additional solar monitoring helps you detect poor installations
With solar monitoring, you can audit your solar system to check for defects during installation and maintenance. The audit may reveal issues that may have been caused by an unlicensed electricity technician sent to work on your system.
Poor installations are among the top five common problems with solar systems.
The Clean Energy Regulator (CER) report confirms that some consumers have defective systems because their installers do not use a licensed electrician or supervise the installation. It says that up to 6% of accredited installers contravene government guidelines by not supervising the installation.
The CER report observed this safety issue with solar electrical work occurred in 37% of the installations. Your solar PV system may work perfectly now, but an unlicensed electrician (hired by a dishonest installer) could wreak havoc during maintenance.
A third-party solar monitoring product can help you avert this risk. Its audit information would reveal the location of the defect and the time it occurred. This audit would form the basis of a formal complaint to the CER for defective installation.
Additional solar monitoring products are life-savers. They give useful information to help you boost solar production, prevent major failure, improve ROI, benchmark performance and detect poor installations.
If you’re considering buying a solar monitoring system, chat with our experts for support.
Should you feel unsure about committing to a solar monitoring product, you could try the demo version. Fronius Solar Web has a demo account with a dashboard that looks and works like the real thing.
You could also watch our Instyle Solar Education Series videos to learn more about solar monitoring products.
Interested in solar? By clicking below you can use our smart solar calculator to find out just how much you could save with solar, what rebate you are eligible for, and the impact you will have on the environment.
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