A Quick Guide To Solar Monitoring
3 - Minute Read
Dec 7, 2022
When you install a solar array on your home, using a solar monitoring system or app can ensure that your panels and inverter are performing as expected. Let’s discover the kind of information you can find with a solar panel monitoring system. Then, we’ll check out some tips for interpreting and taking action on the data.
What Is A Solar Panel Monitoring System?
Solar panel monitoring software provides an overview of a solar array’s performance. A typical system may show real-time energy production data along with historical data.
Solar monitoring systems that can provide insights about each panel’s performance can also be helpful. Panel-level monitoring is a solid way to identify potential performance issues.
Many modern photovoltaic (PV) panel installations come with a solar monitoring system from solar providers. Homeowners can access their data via web browser, smartphone apps or both. It’s possible to add monitoring equipment from solar equipment manufacturers or as part of a home energy monitoring system.
How A Solar Monitoring System Works
Generally, a solar panel monitoring system will collect data from the array’s inverter. Many modern inverters include equipment that can transmit data via Wi-Fi or cellular networks.
From there, customers can log in on their web browser or use an app to access their system data. In many cases, you’ll also be able to access your data even if your home internet connection has an outage.
How To Use Solar Panel Monitoring System Data
The data you get from a solar monitoring system can be helpful for detecting any potential problems with your system. Check your performance regularly to get an idea of how much energy your photovoltaic (PV) system produces on a typical day and under different conditions. This gives you some perspective if you notice a drop in production, either at the panel or the system level.
A small drop in production could tell you it’s time to clean your solar panels. A larger drop could indicate a problem with the panels. If your monitoring system shows no production at all, you may have an inverter problem.
For any potential panel or inverter problems, be sure to check your warranty and contact your installer. In some cases, homeowners can use their app for diagnostics and to start a repair ticket.
Popular Solar Monitoring App Features
While many PV system-monitoring applications are available, here are some key features to look for in a monitoring app:
· System- and panel-level data: For systems equipped with string inverters and power optimizers, look for apps that provide granular performance data. Systems with microinverters should also be able transmit panel-level data to an app.
· Historical data: Look for apps that provide a long-term lookback at your solar energy production. This helps to diagnose any production issues that either you or your installer can address.
· Maintenance and service requests: Some apps will connect directly to your solar installer. If you notice a problem with your equipment, you may be able to report it in the app or request routine maintenance from your installer.
· Overall home energy monitoring: If you’re looking for a more wholistic view of your home’s energy use, you might consider a home energy monitor that connects directly into your electrical box. While these typically don’t provide panel-level insights to your solar system, they can be helpful to understand how energy is used throughout your home.
FAQs: Solar Panel Performance Monitoring
Take a look at some questions that homeowners often ask about solar panel monitoring systems.
How do I monitor my solar panel output?
To monitor system output, your array will need to be equipped with solar panel monitoring hardware, whether built in or as part of an added home energy monitor. Typically, you’ll be able to access your information through a web browser or smartphone app.
Are there apps to monitor solar usage?
Yes, there are apps that can monitor solar usage. Many solar panel equipment and home energy monitor manufacturers have monitoring apps for mobile devices like smartphones. Some installers have also developed their own.
How often do solar panels need to be checked?
An annual check for cleaning and system health is a good rule of thumb. As for monitoring your solar production, feel free to check your app or web portal as often as you’d like! The more familiar you are with your system, the better you can spot trends and discover potential issues.
The Bottom Line: Solar Panel Monitoring Helps Homeowners Understand Their System
In the early days of solar panels, most homeowners were okay with installing panels and letting an electric bill provide all the info about their solar system’s output. But with today’s level of technology, solar system owners often find more use in a real-time app to ensure their home’s solar power is performing at or above expectations. Solar panel monitoring serves the data up easily, either online or through an app.
To learn more about how going solar can pay for itself, read our guide on solar panel ROI.