A monitoring system for your solar electric installation ensures that your solar power system is operating efficiently and alerts you to any problems that may arise.
There are many different solar monitoring systems available, some of which have a proprietary interface that only works with certain manufacturer’s inverters. At Switch to Solar, we customize each of our customers’ solar energy systems to their needs and can help you decide which monitoring system is right for your installation.
Types of Home and Business Solar Energy Monitoring Systems
There are three basic types of solar electric monitoring available:
Local Solar Energy Monitoring
Local solar electric monitoring typically takes the form of an LCD screen on your inverter that provides basic performance information. Local monitoring displays are simple and easy to understand, but they omit information that is valuable to your solar installer and electrician, such as voltage and current.
Web-Based Solar Power Monitoring
Web-based solar electric monitoring tools allow you to see information similar to that offered on local displays, plus historical data. Many of these online interfaces provide valuable charts that help you to understand the performance of your solar energy system over time.
Desktop Solar Power Monitoring
A third type of solar energy monitoring system connects to your computer to display solar power generation data through a widget or other program. These programs don’t require you to proactively seek out information about your solar energy system’s performance.
Considerations When Selecting Your Solar Energy Monitoring System
It’s important to select the right monitoring system for your solar power installatioon. Here are some things to consider:
Level of Detail
When comparing solar energy monitoring systems, it’s important to consider the level of detail that you’re looking for when evaluating your solar power output. Do you simply need to know if it’s working? Do you want to know how much energy you’re saving every month? The different monitoring systems provide different levels of detail.
At Switch to Solar, we’ve noticed that there’s significant room for improvement in the analytics provided by most solar power monitoring systems, even for those that have been on the market for some time. Web-based solar power monitoring systems tend to be overly complex and cumbersome with a lot of irrelevant data, so we try to help you select a monitoring system that provides meaningful data in an intuitive way.
Ease of Installation
Solar energy monitoring systems are traditionally hardwired, which provides the highest possible reliability for data transmission. However, installing a hardwired system increases the installation time (and cost), especially if your solar power monitor requires additional building envelope or room-to-room penetrations.
Wireless solar electricity monitoring systems are also available. These systems transmit data to a gateway that is hardwired to the router or switch.
Another solar monitoring installation option uses power-line technology through a power-line adapter. You simply plug the network cable from the gateway into the adapter, which then plugs into any electrical outlet. The adapter uses your home’s wiring to transmit data.