The value of solar monitoring

Solar Panel Monitor

So you’ve taken the leap, installed a solar power system and flipped the switch. You are now enjoying low (or no) power bills and the satisfaction that comes from knowing you have reduced your reliance on fossil fuels.

But you will probably have questions about your system, important questions such as:

  • How much energy is being produced by my system?
  • How do weather events, such as rain or a run of cloudy days, affect my production?
  • How do the changing seasons impact my power output?
  • How much energy do my various appliances use?
  • How do I know if something is wrong with my array?

Solar power is a significant investment for any home or business owner – it’s very important to make sure that your system is performing at an optimal level and that the components are all functioning properly. Plus, we believe – as do many of our clients – that’s it’s really interesting and cool to have access to live data showing how your system is working.

PV monitoring is an essential part of any quality solar energy system installation. All major inverter manufacturers today provide cloud based monitoring of solar production, including popular inverters such as SolarEdge, Enphase Energy, Fronius, and SMA. SolarEdge and Enphase also offer monitoring of each individual panel on your rooftop.

There are many reasons we believe ongoing monitoring is essential for solar adopters; here are a handful of them:

The availability of live data
With an advanced monitoring system, the data updates at least every few minutes. This means you can view the impact of changing weather and shading. Having more data points to pull from also makes your system analysis more meaningful and accurate over time, and enables you to see specifically when a problem has occurred.

Evaluate expected vs. actual solar production
When are you in the process of making a decision about solar – whether or not to do it, which contractor to use, which components and what size system you will install – estimates you receive should offer an idea of the expected energy production. This number is crucial as it tells you how much money you will be saving on a monthly and an annual basis. Some installers may even guarantee your estimated production. Solar monitoring tells you if you are reaching promised levels of energy production and financial savings in both the short and long run.

Prepare strategies to increase performance
Through monitoring, you will be able to identify ways to improve your solar array’s performance. Monitoring helps you to see where certain panels might not be at peak output at certain times – perhaps due to the angle of the sun or a growing tree limb throwing increasing shade. Real-time data helps you to find and correct issues that might be negatively impacting the performance of your system.

Optimize your energy use
Any solar system is going to produce the most energy during the times of day when the sun is brightest and aimed most directly at your panels. It is best to coordinate your highest energy consumption activities – such as running the clothes dryer, pool equipment or charging an EV vehicle – when your energy production is at its peak. Conversely, you’ll want to avoid these same activities when energy production is lowest (such as at night or during heavy storms). Of course, with utility company net metering, you can certainly still run your dryer at night, but if you can run it during peak solar hours, that’s better for the environment overall.

Troubleshooting and alerts
Almost all monitoring systems will include troubleshooting and diagnostics features. These are critical for notifying you if any piece of equipment in your array is not working and helping to identify where in your array the failure has taken place. When you invest in a solar energy system, you don’t want long periods of downtime or reduced energy production as these will impact your bottom line!

At Brilliant Harvest, we can’t emphasize enough the importance of ongoing monitoring to make sure your system is functioning optimally and to guide your energy usage behavior to reduce costs and maximize efficiency over time. Monitoring software is easy to use and understand – you can view your dashboard through your desktop or an app on your phone. And it’s fun and interesting to see how much energy your system is generating, how much CO2 you’ve saved, and how much money you’re saving/earning, in real time!

Please do not hesitate to contact us if you’d like to know more, or if you are having any issues with your monitoring system.

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