The right solar monitoring system will give you real-time information about the various aspects of your solar systems operation including hardware setting, efficiency, long-term usage, and more.
In this article, you will learn about the various types of systems that you can use, as well as the best solar panel monitoring systems for a variety of uses.
Top 5 Solar Panel Monitoring Systems for 2020
1. Sense Energy Monitor with Solar – Best Overall
The Sense Energy Monitor is a great choice for anyone who wants to get insight into their energy use.
With this solar monitor, you can easily measure your solar production and power consumption in dollars. Therefore, it allows you to know precisely how much each device is costing you and see what the effect of solar on your energy bills is.
One nice feature is the remote energy monitoring: The system offers a real-time monitoring ability that helps you to track your energy production and use on-the-go.
You can do this through its Android, iOS, and web apps.
Now if you decide to leave your teenagers at home for the weekend you can make sure they aren’t leaving all the lights on.
Over time the device picks up on the different power use of individual devices in your household and matches them against an internal database. All you have to do is go into the app and name and categorize your devices.
What we like:
- Gives you access to everything that is happening. Know if the sump pump is on among other things. Also, it integrates with Philips Hue, Wemo Insight, Alexa, as well as Kasa HS110 plugs.
- Easy to install: You can easily install the solar monitor in your solar panel in 30 minutes or less. However, you must ensure you get the services from a licensed electrician. Also, you can connect it to your Wi-Fi grant you access from on the go.
- ETL listed: The system complies with the UL, as well as the IEC standards. It is compliant with the safety requirements, and it’s suitable for homes in Canada and the US.
What we don’t like:
- The way the system discovers your devices is not always accurate, although apparently this is always getting better as more people use it. You should expect to need to verify your devices though.
- Doesn’t detect variable speed motors such as modern pool pumps or HVAC equipment.
The monitoring and alerts you can do with this are top notch. From calculating how much you are saving with a solar setup, to detecting if a heat generating appliance has been left on.
It’s recommended you get a licenced electrician to install the Sense Monitor, although this shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes.
2. Neurio Home Electricity Monitor Solar Expansion Kit – Runner Up
Neurio Home Energy Monitoring system is another excellent product that will offer you granular energy data. You can use this data to reduce energy use, track solar performance, as well as plan for storage needs.
However, to be able to monitor the solar system, you require the solar expansion kit.
This 3.5 stars rated solar expansion kit on Amazon, is an add-on that gives you the capability to monitor your solar system’s performance. With the kit, you can monitor both the consumption and production of your solar panels in real-time.
The kit allows you to access daily, weekly, or monthly stats as you desire. This helps you to gauge if your solar system is worth your investment.
Emphase is one of the best providers of solar monitoring systems in the market. The company offers a full package of solar panels with micro-inverters already built-in. However, customers need to specify the exact monitoring features they need in the microinverters.
For the Enphase IQ7 Series it comes with multiple features as follows:
- Built for ACM (AC Module) applications, this is a smart grid-ready system that is built using the latest technology.
- The package contains a suite of 18 Microinverters
- It complies with the advanced grid support, frequency ride-through, as well as voltage requirements
- The system is enhanced to suit 60-cell and 72-cell high powered modules
- Enphase IQ7 offers faster installation with upgraded, lighter double-wire cabling and over a million testing hours.
- The system includes apps for iOS, Android, and web devices.
Enphase offers a web application called MyEnlighten that allows the user to track their overall, as well as each panel’s energy production data. Also, it enables the user to monitor their system’s health, as well as share their data with third parties using a simple interface.
With its mobile app, the user can access energy production data, the system’s performance, health, and per-panel energy production, and more while on-the-go. Therefore, if you need a reliable and effective solar monitoring system, Enphase IQ7 Series is ideal for you.
Another great solar monitoring system that is ideal for both commercial and home PV systems is SolarEdge. The platform offers enhanced solar performance monitoring, as well as yield assurance. Through prompt detection of faults and alerts, whether it’s on module, string or system level, the system ensures you get optimum yields.
One great aspect of this system is that it doesn’t require any hardware or wiring for it to transmit information to the inverter form the optimizers.
This is because the monitoring sensors, as well as the transmitters, are inbuilt in the power optimizers and the solar inverters. As a result, they transmit data through the normal power lines.
Some of the main benefits of the SolarEdge monitoring system include:
- You get complete visibility of the technical, as well as the financial performance of your system, including site layout and interactive charts
- Allows for the visualization of solar production, individual consumption, and building consumption
- Data is available at the module, string, as well as the system level
- Comprehensive fleet-level and site-level reporting tools that offers an option of scheduling automatic reports, as well as export reports
- The platform offers efficient fleet management as well as improved O&M abilities:
- You get automatic alerts on any system issue
- Remote troubleshooting and real-time system data access
- Easy access to data from a smartphone, computer, or tablet
- The system is free for up to 25 years
The monitoring platform’s physical layout allows the user to monitor the systems right from the module level, detect issues, and pinpoint the precise location of every module. Want to know more about the company? Read our thorough SolarEdge review to understand why they offer some of the best in breed products.
This is another great solar monitoring system that will not disappoint you. The TED Solar Package is built to suit the monitoring needs of residential solar or wind installations.
The system is able to monitor both the production and consumption, as well as provide the net-usage data.
The system’s main benefits include:
- Comes as a complete package ideal for solar, wind and standby generators
- The package consists of an ECC, a double set of 200Amp Current transformers, and two MTUs
- The package is inclusive of all necessary software, and a TED Commander feature that is free
- This system also includes Android or iOS apps
- It measures both energy production and consumption and provides you with the net usage
- Can also be ideal for homes with up to two electric panels
- The system also monitors the energy that goes to the grid
However, if you also want to monitor distinct circuits, you have to add a Spyder which is available at TED Store.
Do you need a Solar Panel Monitoring System?
Now that you have installed your home solar system and it’s operational, is there any need to go on and monitor its operations? Yes indeed. Knowing how your panels are operating will enable you to see whether they are a good investment or not.
A monitoring system offers you information about energy production and consumption, any damage on your solar system, optimization of energy use, and more.
When you monitor your order, it ensures that you are not caught off-guard in case of any eventuality.
There are also modern solar systems monitoring methods available for you. These methods offer convenient options to
Therefore, if you were looking for ways on how to monitor solar panel output, then these methods will suit you well.
How do Solar Panel Monitoring Systems Work?
A solar monitoring system works through the solar system’s inverter. In most cases, companies sell their inverters with a patented, built-in monitoring software setup.
The monitoring system works in a straightforward manner. In the process of converting DC (direct current) from the panels to an AC (alternating current) by the inverter, the system collects data about production and power levels. The information is then sent to a cloud-based monitoring system and its related apps.
You can then access this information either using your mobile apps, or your paired smart home gadgets. Also, there are some monitoring systems which offer on-site monitoring.
Instead of the data being sent to a cloud-based system, it is sent to an installed monitoring device on your property.
In addition, a large number of systems can be set up to include cellular capabilities. This means that even without a Wi-Fi connection, you can still access the systems information available in the cloud.
Through this, it means that you can access the solar monitoring system even when your internet connection is down.
Also, systems that have power optimizers allows for continuous solar monitoring even during internet outages, as they don’t rely on Wi-Fi connection. However, some solar panel monitoring systems won’t operate in the absence of a Wi-Fi connection.
For example, the microinverter monitoring systems require an internet connection to be able to monitor every solar panel separately, and in real-time. If you are in the market for one, consider these best solar inverters to pair with your solar panels.
Solar Panel Monitoring Methods
There are various methods of monitoring solar power generation, consumption, and performance.
Some of these methods of solar power monitoring include:
Direct PC Connection
In this method, the inverter is connected to a PC either using a Bluetooth device or a CAT5 cable. Here, you can download a free monitoring software from the website of the inverter’s manufacturer.
This method gives you the data logging advantage, and it is one of the cheapest solar monitoring methods.
Use of Mobile Devices
With the advancement of new technology, you can now monitor your solar system from your smartphone. Since most inverters allow for Bluetooth integrations, you can, therefore, connect it to your mobile device and conveniently monitor it from there.
This method enables you to remotely monitor your PV system, as well as allowing you to control core settings to make custom usage-profiles.
The system allows for wireless solar energy monitoring. Also, depending on your settings, you can remotely view data using internet connections or via SMS texts.
Monitoring Display Unit
Traditionally, this was the main and only way of monitoring your solar system. The method involves the gathering of data from one or multiple combined inverters and displaying it on the display unit. The data is collected either using Bluetooth units or through the CAT5 cable.
And, although a dedicated display is an extra cost, it allows you to monitor your system through the display.
With this method, the energy production information is sent to a router, which makes it accessible on the internet. Then, since each user has a password-protected dedicated website, you can easily access the information. One good thing about this method is that you can get access to this data at any time remotely.
However, the card that you will plug into the inverter, together with the router, will be an additional cost for the user. You can use a DAS type system to remote dial into your system’s performance.
Use of Historic Data Viewing Features
The current solar monitoring units allow for easy integrations with various data storage systems. Therefore, the system gives you the ability to view your system’s past performance data.
By doing so, you can now understand better your usage habits and see where you can adjust.
Conclusion on Solar Panel Monitoring Systems
Being aware of how your solar panels functions, their output, and how you consume the energy they produce is essential. It helps you to see if the investment is viable and also if there are ways you are losing your energy.
For most people we recommend the Sense Energy Monitor as an excellent, user friendly option to keep a close eye on your energy usage.
I hope this article on solar panel monitoring systems can give you everything you need to make that critical decision. Start living behind the meter and off the grid.
What do you think about these solar monitoring systems? Let us know if you have any questions or comments below.