Once your solar system is installed, you’ll want to know how it’s running—and that’s where monitoring comes in. How much energy is the system producing monthly or yearly? Are all of the panels putting out the same amount? Is anything limiting power production? Early identification of problems allows your solar techs to solve them before they result in a significant drop in your energy production.
With the net-metering plans that come with grid-tied solar power systems, in which you sell back power you don’t use to your electrical utility, your utility bill will, of course, show how much electricity you’re using. The bill will also have a credit line showing the solar energy that your system has fed to the power grid. What it won’t show is the total energy your solar array is producing—or any information about how your individual panels are operating.
Inverters and Plug-Ins
The main way to monitor solar systems today is via proprietary software that’s integrated with solar inverters, the devices that convert the DC electricity that solar panels create into the AC current your appliances, lights, and other electrics and electronics can use. Monitoring linked to inverter brands like SolarEdge, Fronius, Emphase Energy, and SMA America collects information about your power levels and production and sends it to cloud-based monitoring systems and their apps.
You can then access this information in a number of ways, including mobile apps and smart-home devices. With some monitoring systems, you can get on-site monitoring too. These send information from the inverters directly to a monitoring device on your property.
Most monitoring systems can be setup to have cellular capabilities, so you can have access to data stored in the cloud from mobile devices without having to connect to your WiFi network.
Consider Going Solar
If you’d like to know more about solar power for your home, contact your local solar installer for a free quote and to learn more about which type of solar installation is right for you.
Download our eBook, Solar Shopping Tips, to learn more about the right—and the wrong—practices when it comes to finding the best solar installer for your home.