Solar panels are a big investment, so it’s important to ensure that you’re getting the most out of them, maximising savings and ensuring that they will have the longest lifespan possible.

A solar PV system can operate for years and decades with very little need for maintenance, so it might be easy to forget about it. But it’s important to keep track of the performance and wellbeing of your solar array.

Solar panel monitoring allows you to dig into the energy production of your solar PV system by comparing current and past output, as well as providing insight into the system’s health.

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What is a solar monitoring system

A solar monitoring system is a data display that allows you to track information about your solar panels and other elements of your solar PV array.

This can provide data such as how much energy is being produced by your solar panels at any given time, your energy consumption, and the health of your solar panels or battery.

Some systems will also provide real time monitoring of your home energy use, and any electricity being exported from your solar system to the grid.

A solar PV monitoring system will generally consist of hardware, the sensors and devices that track how the machinery is performing, and software, the data display for the information

a data display allowing you to track information about your solar panels

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How do solar monitoring systems work

Solar monitoring systems are made of hardware and software components, and a system for displaying that data to the customer.

Monitoring sensors will gather data from solar panels or other devices. Depending on the type and brand of system you go with, the monitoring devices might gather data from each solar panel, the power inverter, or on your battery if you have one installed.

The most important part of the monitoring platform is the software, which provides system owners with a data display of all the information being gathered by the sensors and solar inverter.

This information is typically accessible through an app for a mobile device, or a web portal. Many systems these days will upload data to a cloud based monitoring platform which can be accesses easily from anywhere.

Many popular systems for solar panel monitoring can also integrate with a smart meter to provide measurement data on you energy usage and export to the grid, as well as what is being produced by your solar PV system.

How do solar monitoring systems work

Solar panel monitoring systems

A solar panel monitoring system is usually installed at the same time as your solar panels, but aftermarket options can be added later depending on what features you are looking for.

Solar panels systems will at their most basic involve monitoring data on the entire array which is captured at the solar inverter. But many modern systems will have a monitor installed on each solar panel.

These more advanced options will give data on the energy production of each your solar panels, and will also transmit data on any flaws with the solar PV array.

Many choices for solar PV monitoring also have the ability to integrate data from other devices which monitor energy usage in the home, electricity imported from the grid, or exported to it, as well as other devices such as a battery or EV charger.

Solar battery monitoring systems

If you have a solar battery installed as part of your solar PV system, then you will need to monitor data related to the flow of energy from the solar panel to the battery to ensure that it is not being overcharged, and that your battery is working at its best.

Information on your solar battery is gathered either from its charge controller, or from the power inverter for the PV system.

Most of the time your solar charge controller installed with your battery will provide information on the the voltage of the electricity currently being delivered to the battery, and may also have information on its current charge level.

Battery monitoring may display basic information on the charge controller, but other models such as the Tesla Powerwall also come with mobile apps which allow for remote monitoring, and provide features such as setting the best times to charge and discharge the battery, temperature monitoring, and other performance features.

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Benefits of having a monitoring system

There are multiple benefits of having a system in place to ensure that you are getting the best out of your solar panel installations. These will help you to save money, and when well designed make it easy to keep track of the system health and performance.

You can compare your solar production with energy usage to make sound financial decisions, and detect any problems developing in your solar PV array before they become crippling issues.

Benefits of solar monitoring system

Performance Monitoring

Any solar panel monitoring system will be able to tell you how much energy is being produced by your solar system at any given time of the day. Using this energy data to see when your solar panels are at peak production can allow you to determine how to make the best use of them.

This could be used to connect your solar PV system with other accessories such as a battery, immersion diverter, or electric vehicle charger. Knowing when your energy production is highest can help determine when would be the best time to send power to them.

Track Energy consumption

Many systems these days will also allow you to track your household energy consumption in real-time, particularly if you have smart meter installed on your home.

Having that monitor of your energy consumption can help you to save money be seeing when and where you are using the most electricity, and changing your habits to cut down on excessive energy costs.

By tracking when and where you are using the most electricity, you can match your highest consumption activities to when solar production is at its peak.

Fault Detection

Solar panel systems can typically operate with little to no maintenance for years and decades. But that doesn’t mean that nothing will go wrong with them. It is important to keep on top of any system issues as they occur.

Automatic alerts can provide immediate fault detection in the event that there is something with the system’s health. The platform can give valuable insight into what has gone wrong with your solar PV system, and help with any necessary repairs.

In a solar panel monitoring system with a sensor installed on each solar panel as well as through the inverter, it is also possible to pinpoint exactly where any fault is developing in the system.

Solar Monitor Features

A good solar monitoring platform has a number of key features that will let you get the most value for money out of your solar PV system, while also making life easier for you keeping track of the information.

What features your system will have depends on what device you have installed. Some potential features to keep a lookout for are:

  • Enhanced PV performance monitoring will provide a live display of when your solar system is generating the most power. This can not only tell you when your energy production is highest, but also let you know if system’s performance is starting to slip.
  • Online monitoring of data produced by solar PV monitoring is one of the basic functions expected from modern technology. The majority of systems available today will enable you to monitor your system via a web portal or dedicated mobile app.
  • Automatic reports whenever problems arise. This can allow you to have maintenance or repairs carried out before they become serious.
  • Remote troubleshooting of problems which can be used to help identify what exactly issues are affecting your solar PV system, and where the fault lies.
  • Compare current and historical data to let you know what time of day your system is generally performing at its peak. This can inform decision on when to use the most electricity in your home.
solar monitoring platform

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Learn more about solar monitoring systems today

So we’ve seen that solar monitoring systems help with the all important goal of solar panels, saving you money on your electricity bills.

Take an assessment here and find out how much you can potentially save by having solar panels installed.

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