Image: Mmaxer – Shutterstock.

There are several reasons why you should monitor the solar energy production of your PV plant. Think of the system as your energy supplier and the better it works, the better your performance and return on your investment.

Monitoring photovoltaic systems: how does it work?

Monitoring your solar panel system is very easy. To start, we see an example:

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Solar inverter

The solar inverter is the team in charge of managing all the electricity production of your photovoltaic installation and making the information available to you.

It is through the inverter that you monitor the solar energy production of your system.

But it is not necessary to do it directly on the equipment, which is usually installed in hard-to-reach areas.

The monitoring of the photovoltaic system is done directly on your computer, tablet or smartphone.

At the end of the installation of your system, the technicians of the company who carried out the installation will connect your inverter to your home’s wi-fi network.

This way you can monitor your system’s production from anywhere, from anywhere in the world.

All via the Internet with a web application or an application specially designed for this function.

Access to the platform is via a username and password provided by the technical team of the installation company.

Keep in mind that the monitoring platform interface and the information it provides vary depending on the manufacturer of your inverter. Each application is different, even if basically they all do the same.

In this way, you can monitor the build data online and, if necessary, perform some maintenance tasks remotely.

UPS error

A solar inverter has a standard lifespan of at least 15 years and can last longer with good care.

By operating for several consecutive hours during this period, it is natural that at one point or another your inverter will have a fault or fault.

There are several reasons why this can happen, and the way to identify them is by using the error code which will be displayed on the platform itself.

Monitors with a built-in mini screen, like the one in the image below, also display the error code on that same screen.

Once you get the code, all you need to do is look at your inverter’s instruction manual, and using the error code table, you can diagnose the reason for the failure.

Therefore, the sooner you identify the error and report it to the installation company, the faster corrective actions will take place and your system will be up and running again.

Information obtained.

Through the online monitoring platform, you have access to a comprehensive list of information about your system’s power generation.

You can follow real-time production or even historical logs for performance analysis and reporting.

Review the key information you have access to when monitoring your solar power system:

  • Instant generation. This is the real time output of your system, it shows the amount of electrical energy produced by the light incident on the panel.
  • Generation records. Here you can track your system’s power generation history over time. You can check the daily, monthly and annual production, as well as the running total since the system was put into service.
  • Estimated savings. This is undoubtedly the most important piece of information any system owner will want. Based on your dealer’s energy rate, the investor can tell you how much you’ve already saved, whether it’s day, month, year, or total accumulated.
  • Estimation of CO2 savings. Another big advantage of a photovoltaic system is its sustainability by producing clean energy without environmental impact. With the monitoring system, you can also track your contribution to environmental sustainability. In addition to the total CO2 savings, the system shows the comparison in kilometers traveled by a car and the number of trees preserved, for comparison.

Benefits of solar monitoring.

There are several advantages to monitoring your solar energy system.

Besides being quick and easy, you get better understanding, control and visibility of your system.

  • Immediate identification of problems. With the monitoring system, it is possible to identify any problem that could compromise your electricity production. This not only allows for a quick fix, but it also saves you from having losses in the system. For example, imagine that on a clear day, around noon, your generator set is producing half of its maximum power. You will realize that something is wrong and you will need to check out what may be going on. Otherwise, it would only be known when the electric bill came in and the damage could no longer be canceled.
  • Data verification. Another important advantage of monitoring is the possibility of comparing the production information with that offered by the distributor in the electricity bill. In other words, all the excess energy produced by your system is fed into the power grid and turned into energy credits for you. At the end of each month, the distributor counts this energy on the meter and transfers the total credits generated to his bill. But it is possible that this count will fail, which can cause you to pay more for the power grid than you would need. With solar energy monitoring, you can know the volume generated by your system and thus be able to confirm that what is reflected on your bill is correct. An example that may change depending on the country where you live.
  • Savings forecast. By monitoring the system, you can estimate how much you can save each month. Based on the production history, you can make projections and prepare the electricity bill. It is also a way to maximize your savings, as you can compare the amount of energy produced and consumed in the month. For example, if you notice that you spent significantly more than what was produced in the first half of the month, you can plan to spend less in the rest of the period and ensure greater savings at the end of the month.
  • Investment performance assessment. Finally, monitoring the solar system is crucial in keeping an eye on return on investment. Thanks to the generation history stored by the investor, it is possible to calculate how much you have saved since the system started. This way you can calculate how you are amortizing your investment. In addition, based on the production averages, you can also estimate how long you will get the total return on the value invested in your system.

As we have seen, a monitoring system for your photovoltaic installation is always a good investment.