Solar PV monitoring - It's a necessity

Sunpower Monitoring

Sunpower Monitoring

So you've made the decision to install Solar PV on your roof!  Excellent.  Now make sure you spend the extra money (usually a small fraction of the system cost) to install a monitoring solution to go with your system!

I mentioned in Monitoring Intro how important power monitoring is to get a grasp of how your home uses energy.  It is just as important to monitor any energy you produce for the same reasons!  Not only do you get an intuitive feel for how your system performs, but you're also able to see if the system is malfunctioning.  Without a monitoring system in place, there is no way to "see" the power an alternative energy system produces.

If a panel gets damaged by hail or covered up by some debris you might not know it unless you have monitoring equipment.  Or if your installer guaranteed a certain performance, there is no way to check if they are living up to that guarantee without monitoring equipment.

One of the most popular brands of Solar PV panels are made by Sunpower and they have one of the slickest residential monitoring platforms I've seen.  They allow you to monitor three ways:

  • online display
  • sleek wall-mounted system
  • I-Phone Application

How cool would it be to be able to pull out your I-phone and see what your panels are producing.  I would be showing that thing off to everyone I met!

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I have 10.6 kW SunPower array with their web-based monitoring system in place. Are there other alternatives to the SunPower proprietary monitoring ? They report hourly on the screen in real time and only allow downloads of a single sum, daily summary. I would like to capture hourly output, or 15-minute, or 6-minute (0.10 hour) increments to correlate with external weather and insolation. The netware is in place, are any other applications capable of tapping in to this system ? Thank, Paul
ckmapawatt's picture
Have you looked at using a TED 5000 to monitor the solar energy?
Sorry for my slllooooowwww reply. I am open to any alternative monitoring options so I'll look at TED. Tried to identify the monitoring device on my wireless network but don't think I see it. I figures tapping into that sending unit would be a first step - maybe it streams its data in some format, which can be captured ?
did you think about Solarlog system SL200 or 500 ? works great best regards kris
Don't worry too much about the solar / renewable naysayers. The momentum is not going to stop for the next few years. The luddites and "closet payroll" oil/coal advocates and their minions (Dork sounds like a minion) will be irrelevant.
The biggest weakness of the SunPower Residential Solar system is the inability to get a second stream of data (like an FTP of a CSV file or something like that which is not going to sunpower) that you can use for your own purposes. The second biggest issue is that that the consumption meter add-on that tracks how much utility power you use is extra money. This is needed to see your produced vs consumed = net power used and to be able to graph it. I ended up with a TED5000 to deal with the weakness of the Sunpower monitoring but the Iphone or Android app is pretty cool for a quick glance at your daily or life totals. -Dave
Solar only makes sense if you are located in certain geographical areas as does windturbine; Cost vs. PV output catches up really quick, typically payback < life span of PV Panels/Turbines, unless you are using grants (taxpayer money) to pay for your equipment. Global Warming = Environmental Brain Washing
ckmapawatt's picture
Dorks, You sound like you're a real expert on clean energy. Where does coal make sense? Do you think the externalities associated with fossil fuel consumption are accounted for in their upfront cost? Who do you think ends up paying for the cost of those externalities? As far as your equation, you must be a pretty good mathematician, but I fear it is an unbalanced equation. I'm no expert, but it's hard to say there is absolutely zero correlation between rising temperatures and rising CO2 emissions.
LOL @ Tommy. It's kind of funny when anyone says they hate solar or enjoy global warming. Nice article.
Tommy, nobody cares that you would think they are "not cool." Yay for iphones and especially yay for solar power!


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