Utilization of renewable energy is growing faster than ever, recently the tech giant – Google invested $2bn in renewable energy infrastructure. The two most common form of renewable energy in use today are solar panel and wind energy systems. Probably the reason you are reading this article is that you’ve installed solar panels and wondering how to monitor your energy production as well as your consumption. We’ve covered that all in this article.
It’s important to monitor your solar system’s operation as the data will help you in making various decisions, for instance knowing how your solar panels are operating will enable you to see whether they are a good investment or not. In order to make monitoring a hassle-free task automatic solar panel monitoring systems are developed that help you understand your system’s performance.
Using a solar monitoring system, you will be able to get real-time information and data about various aspects of your solar systems operation.
What a Solar Monitoring System Offers?
In brief, here is what a solar monitoring system offers:
- Solar Energy Metrics
- Energy Production Information
- Energy Consumption Information
- Damage to Solar System
- Optimization of Energy Usage
- Hardware Setting
- Efficiency & Long-term Usage Info
How Solar Monitoring System Works?
Generally, the solar monitoring system comes built-in with solar system’s inverter. Separate modules are also available but all monitoring systems works through system’s inverters.
When the inverter is converting DC (Direct Current) from the solar panels into AC (Alternative Current), the solar monitoring system collects the data about production and power levels during this process. This data and information is then sent to a cloud based-based monitoring system and its related applications and platforms.
Then you can use your smartphone or any other gadget you may have for accessing this information about your solar system. On-site monitoring systems can also be installed when necessary. Systems with cellular capabilities can be installed when you want to access the information without a Wi-Fi connection (no internet access) through the cloud. However, some solar panel monitoring systems won’t run without a Wi-Fi connection.
Various Solar Panel Monitoring Methods
You can use various available devices to monitor solar power production, consumption and performance. Some of these methods of solar power monitoring include:
#1 Inverter to PC Connection
You can download a free software from your manufacturer’s website and install it on your PC for monitoring. Then simply connect your PC to Inverter using a Bluetooth connection or through CAT5 cable. This is a cheap and good method especially when you want to log the data.
#2 Inverter to Smartphone Connection
Using this method, you simply connect your smartphone via Bluetooth to monitor the data and change the profile settings for your inverter. The method allows for wireless solar energy monitoring. Also, depending on your settings and available features, you can remotely view data using internet connection or via text messages (SMS).
#3 Inverter to Monitoring Display Unit Connection
Perhaps, this is one of the earliest method for monitoring solar panel system’s data. This method allows you to collect info from one or several inverters which are inter-connected via Bluetooth or CAT5 cable to a display unit. The data in this method is also collected via a Bluetooth connection or through a CAT5 cable.
#4 Inverter to Router Connection (Internet-Based Monitoring)
In this method you basically insert a card into your inverter and then connect it to a router to send the data online, which makes it accessible on the internet. Then, the user can conveniently access the data remotely through an online platform or a dedicated website. In addition to its advantages this system will have the extra charges for the inverter and card.
Being aware of how your solar panels functions, their output, and how you consume the energy they produce is essential. It helps you to see if the investment is viable and also if there are ways you are losing your energy.
Using monitoring systems will help you be aware of the daily functions, outputs and consumption of the solar panels. It also helps you to see whether the investment you’ve made is viable and as well as if there are any ways that you’re losing energy.
What do you think about solar monitoring systems? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.