Today, we are going to explore solar panel monitors and give you a full rundown of what they are, how they can help you, and why you should make use of one if you have a home or work-based solar panel array in place.
There are a wide variety of different reasons why it simply makes sense to incorporate a solar monitor into your existing array, but fundamentally, the most important one is likely that it is going to help to make an incredibly effective energy source even more effective.
There is nothing worse than being “in the dark” when it comes to power use. Luckily, the vast array of monitoring systems out there will shed an incredible amount of light on your solar cell system and how it is being used.
Some companies actually install solar monitoring as a standard feature when they install solar panels, so you may just need to start using an existing solar monitor if you want to maximise your savings and power efficiency. Other solar panel systems do not yet have a solar monitor.
How Solar Monitoring Works
These monitoring systems make use of the power inverters that are already embedded in the solar cell structures you have in place. As the inverters convert AC to DC current, information related to the power being put to use is sent to cloud-based digital data storage systems. You then have a variety of means through which you can access this information.
Most (almost all) monitoring system users access the system via smartphone apps in conjunction with an internet connection. By doing so, you can then see live energy and usage updates as the day progresses. If your equipment has the capability, you can make remote or manual adjustments to your solar array to maximise efficiency.
It is also possible to access usage information using everything from smart televisions to computers and tablets. Provided you have screen-based technology, you are going to be completely fine. Additionally, some solar monitors have built-in LCD screens for displaying information.
Solar monitoring is also available with built-in power optimising systems, which do not rely on the internet to function. This means that in the unlikely event of a network outage, you can still access the information you require easily.
What Solar Monitoring Can Show You
It is not all about energy efficiency. Some of the most effective monitors on the market can also detect issues with your solar panel array. Whether it is a damaged panel or a lack of synchronisation between one cell to another, you can easily isolate and resolve issues using this technology. How many features you are likely to have at your disposal closely relates to the number of inverters your monitoring system has, as we will soon discover.
Even with a basic system on hand though, you will be able to use this device for its fundamental purpose, which is to determine the amount of power that you are directly feeding back into the grid. And for most people, this is the main reason why they want to use a solar monitoring device.
It is also a little known fact, but some states actually require you by law to have a monitoring device in place if you have a solar installation of any kind.
Regardless of the legalities, one area that is in everybody’s best interest to monitor is power output and, therefore, money saved through solar use. Other useful information available with some monitors is temperature and battery charge time.
The latter is important because any unexpected drop in battery life would definitely indicate some kind of fault, and with the former, a spike or decrease in temperature could also be detrimental to your solar panels.
The most advanced varieties of solar monitoring system will allow you to observe any hardware errors the moment they happen and even the performance of individual components. It is really a case of how far you prefer to dive in with the details.
Some people may see these additional intricacies as being a little too in depth, but if you have the money to invest in added security, they might just save you thousands in repairs if you are able to discover and resolve issues before they have a negative effect on other components.
No matter which system you feel is best for you, you should always choose the option that will offer a level of detail relevant to your needs. In the case of large industrial solar installations for example, you cannot afford to take any chances.
Solar Panel Monitoring Methods
There are several different methods you can use when it comes to effective monitoring, but by far, these are the most common solar monitor options out there on the market.
This incredibly easy means of accessing usage information for your array relies purely on the internet and can be accessed via any computer, tablet, or smartphone. A solar monitor system like this will communicate with the inverters on your array and relay everything you could ever need to know directly back to the screen of your choice.
It probably goes without saying that for home or business users alike, this is an incredibly practical option because you have convenient access whenever you need it to observe current and past performance while being able to project future energy outcomes.
The accuracy of internet based monitoring like this largely relies on the number of micro-inverters placed in your system. But even if you are using an option with one central inverter, you will still at least be able to access the most fundamental and important usage information to optimise efficiency.
It is also a great way to detect any potential issues and eradicate them before they become a problem due to the always “on” platform that can be set to alert you automatically about any anomalies or changes in your array.
This is probably the most basic of options, but that does not mean that it is an ineffective one! These monitoring units are basically a screen that has been attached directly to the housing of your solar array. They display vital read-out information relating to energy use and depending on the type of monitoring you use, even information about hardware performance too.
This is a great choice for anyone who does not want internet or mobile solar monitors that some may simply find too complicated or impractical. Depending on the option you select, you will be surprised at how much detail these LCD screens can actually display.
Is there a downside? You are probably not going to get “always on” access to the technical information relating to your array and its associated energy production. It may be possible to link more advanced options with mobile devices and computers, but generally speaking, this is not the case.
Direct to PC
This variety of monitoring is actually a little different than internet-based monitoring, though you would be forgiven for thinking they are one and the same. This is because the internet variety relies on the solar array “speaking” directly to a router and storing your usage information on an encrypted website that you can then access with a password. With this type of solar monitor, the array instead directly speaks to a computer.
They can both rely on the internet, but the crucial difference is that in order to access the monitoring information in this instance, you need direct access to the computer it is linked to as opposed to being able to access it elsewhere via other net-linked technology.
As a natural evolution of internet-based monitoring, mobile monitoring makes use of phones and tablets along with app technology to provide you with all of the read-out information you could ever need in one easy to access location.
Solar monitoring apps are optimised for mobile devices and are a highly convenient on-the-go monitoring system that has been streamlined for ease of use and maximum efficiency in the process. This is quickly becoming the most popular monitoring method.
The aim of this article is to help you understand the benefits of the right solar monitor system to suit your needs. Every and any decision related to solar power is incredibly individual. Choosing effective monitoring is no different. The option that will be right for you is the one that offers the information that directly relates to your individual circumstances and installation.
There is no need to spend more on a diverse monitoring array if you only need simple information to streamline your bills. Equally, it is necessary to spend more if you want to squeeze every last drop of efficiency out of your installation. Only you know which option works best for you.