One issue with solar power is that business owners are investing in a system where the output is invisible. Not only can they not see the power being produced, if there was a system fault and no power was being produced, then the grid would still supply all their needs, and they’d not realise.
So, monitoring systems are essential as an inclusion in a commercial system to ensure that you keep your finger on the pulse of the production of your system.
In fact, most monitoring systems allow for exception reporting, so will raise an alarm of sorts if something is amiss.
What monitoring does
In a simple sense, a monitor records the output of power from your system (from the inverter, typically) and delivers that information in whatever format you need – instantaneous output, daily output, weekly etc…to a separate screen or more commonly to a web portal, so it can be accessed remotely.
Monitors can be combined with environmental sensors which will measure temperature, wind and humidity, and these factors can be taken into account for more serious data-crunchers.
Here’s a few things to consider when evaluating monitoring systems:
- What is the visual representation – is it customisable to your needs?
- Is there error reporting?
- Is there logging and can logged data be retreived in a variety of formats?
- Can the data be shared with others (onto a display in the reception area of a business, or on your website?)
- Does the system record green data (solar), black data (grid) and consumption?
- Is the system proprietary or universal. For example, SMA makes monitoring systems that work on its own inverters. Aurora Power-One makes monitors that work on its systems. There are some which also work across the board. Which will serve you best?
- Can the data be accessed remotely such as through a web browser or via an iPhone app?
Because our goal is to present solar as a viable financial investment, we advocate monitoring as part of any system.
We welcome the chance to discuss your needs and find something that will suit.