Monitoring a solar pv system’s energy is one of the best features of installing solar. Property owners can track in real-time their daily, monthly, annually, lifetime production. Monitoring solar production along with an electric bill is a great way for utility customers for home and business can determine how much power their system is generating – and relate that information to energy they’re receiving from the grid.
How Solar Monitoring Works
A solar system installation includes two primary components – solar pv modules and an inverter(s). The inverter converts the direct current (DC) electric circuit to alternating current (AC) electricity, the type of energy that powers a home/building. An inverter also acts as a central hub – gathering data, converting the electric signal, and distributing the energy to your property’s main electric panel box. Today, most inverters have monitoring capabilities to meter a systems productivity and to alert if any issues arise.
Monitoring is always included with the installation of a solar system and is always accessible at any time with real-time updates. Monitoring for a standard string/central inverter can be accessed directly through the inverter onsite, while microinverters and/or an inverter with optimizers provide monitoring access through an internet connection onsite and offsite.
How Monitoring Is Installed
Monitoring is installed directly after the system has been commissioned by the utility. Virtually all solar installations will include mobile access via a wireless or ethernet device designed to send the solar production data through the internet so it can be viewed anywhere. Systems owners/administrators will log into the monitoring portal to view the productivity. Monitoring is accessible via desktop, tablet, and smartphone app.
How To Track A Solar System’s Production
It’s important to be educated on how to view and track a solar system’s production. The goal is to ensure that the system’s is providing energy at or above what was guaranteed by the solar installer/facilitator. Production will vary when tracking its results. The time of year, time of day, weather, clouds, and shade determine the system’s production for that day. Potential shading from roofing ventilation pipes, an HVAC unit, chimney, and tree branches will fluctuate how much energy a system generates. There also may be times when no production is being reported. If the property’s internet connection has been tampered with or security access was changed, this will reset the data connection and no production report will be available. However, the solar system will continue to send energy to the property. Although no data will be available until the internet connection reconfigured, most inverters can retain production data for up to 36 months.
There will be time when questions arise about the system’s productivity and how it’s reporting. In such circumstances property owners should contact their solar installer/facilitator for immediate response and assistance. Leave it to the support team to resolve a concern and ensure that the solar system is functioning properly.
Each solar installation will include a production guarantee. The guarantee is promised by the installer/facilitator by setting a threshold on the solar system’s productivity – ensuring that the system owner is meeting their solar expectations. With solar’s non-mechanical, low maintenance design, the failure rate is 0.01% which is close to nothing – a reason why manufactures stand behind their production and product warranties for up to 25 years.