Posted by Brandi Casey on April 19, 2017
After determining the components, you need for your solar array such as solar panels, racking, inverters and so on, it is important to take time in looking into system monitoring. Monitoring component pricing can initially seem high, particularly when working on a budget. However, proper system monitoring can increase your system ROI and pay for themselves in a relatively short period of time. Further, it can assist in keeping all of the components in your system working at its maximum efficiency and safely ensuring that your components are not being overcharged. Overcharging your system components can dramatically decrease the lifetime expectancy of your system.
Careful monitoring of your system can bring energy loss problems to your attention quickly, giving you the opportunity to fix the issue with relative ease. System monitoring components such as the Enphase Envoy can even tell you which individual panels are not working to their optimum performance levels. These issues could be due to shading issues at certain times of the day, faulty wiring, or any number of problems. With their troubleshooting application, you can determine which of these problems need to be address, fix it then have your system up and running at its peak performance in no time.
Features from the Fronius, SMA and SolarEdge also allow you to see when what time of day you are using the most energy and make recommendations on where to cut back. When your system is connected to the grid, cutting back on unneeded energy can help in driving down the cost of your energy quickly and assist you in reaching energy independence quickly. You can also use this technology to plan ahead and store up enough energy credits through net metering to carry you through the summer months when air conditioning units generate a great deal of energy; or in winter when you have to run your heater throughout most of the day. For off-grid applications, this technology can be particularly important in ensuring you have enough energy stored in your battery banks to cover your night time usage when the sun isn’t shining.
In addition to taking a look at your system performance, monitoring tools can be purchased to see where you are losing energy inside your home. Perhaps your refrigerator is using 40% of your total energy bill, your refrigerator may need to be fixed or replaced. Knowing what is using phantom power, power that you cannot account for, will assist you in making the right choices in what appliances to keep and replace, run or turn off. Reducing your energy usage will be kind on both your wallet and the environment.
Much of the technology mentioned here requires planning on behalf of the user, however, it takes the guesswork out of troubleshooting these problems and can save you a great deal of money over time. Purchasing your system components is only the beginning of your solar energy journey, careful system monitoring is essential to getting the most out of your system. Some solar inverters, such as those made by SolarEdge come with built in system monitoring that can be viewed over an application or on your home desktop. Check the specifications sheets of your inverters to see what is recommended for your system monitoring.