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Is advanced solar monitoring worth it?

If your new to solar you may not know that there are a number of types of solar panel monitoring you can have with your solar panels.  From basic “output” right down to individual panel monitoring.   Each have there advantages and of course, costs.

So which one is right for you?

Lets break them down.

Basic Monitoring.

Just about every inverter now days has the ability to have Wi-Fi output monitoring. This is usually done through an APP or on your desktop. It is usually fairly simply to set up and for most inverters does not add any costs. It is fairly simply to use and tells you how much your system is producing at any given time.   If your looking for a “set and forget” option for your solar, then this is probably the way to go for yourself.  It does not however, tell you how much power you are using in the house so it doesn’t really offer anything in the way of controlling consumption at your home or business.   If you want more advanced smart control of your home or business electricity consumption, it may be better to go for one of the more advanced options. below is an example of simple consumption monitoring for the Fronius Primo inverter.

Advanced consumption monitoring. 

Consumption monitoring is more advanced than basic monitoring and has a number of advantages. Most importantly, it shows the end user how much power they are using at any given time, how much the solar is producing and if there is a surplus or if they are drawing from the grid. It allows you to make smart decisions on things like when to turn pool pumps on,  if you can turn air conditioners and heaters on without it costing you anything as well as making sure you don’t get any nasty electricity bill surprises at the end of the month.

Advanced consumption monitoring also often comes with features such as alerts for low performance *solar analytics, and features for battery usage monitoring.  For Solar users that want “true control” of their solar and home or business’s power consumption it offers a much more advanced way to do it and empowers you to do so.  Not all inverters come with the ability to do this and it mostly it requires an add on of a smart metering system.  It adds a little more cost at the start but the benefits and rewards can far out weight the initial small investment  to gain complete control of your power consumption.  Below is an example

 

Advanced panel level monitoring. 

This is for people who really want to know every little thing about their solar panel systems.  It offers information on individual panels performance and shading analysis.  For large commercial installations this feature can save many costs in cases where a panel has issues. instead of spending many hours trying to fault find and test individual panels the technician  and customer can clearly see which panels are under performing and fix the issues.  The downside is every panel needs to be fitted with optimizers such as Tigo or Solar edge which adds a great deal to the costs.  In most cases for residential applications it does not offer a lot more in the way of “useful information” but it is very cool. Below is an example if panel level monitoring.

 

So in Summary, its a good idea to think about the type of monitoring you would like when you decide to join the solar revolution. Each type of solar panel monitoring suits different kinds of customers.

Have a great day!

Leon

 


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Should I get a 10kw system in QLD?

With the recent changes to allowable PV limits. Many companies are now pushing customers to get large 10kw systems on a single phase residence.

So you may be asking yourself  is this right for me?

There is a couple of questions you need to answer to know this and it defiantly is not a “one size fits all” answer as many companies would have you believe.

Most of these systems will need to be limited to 5kw export limiting.  This means if you are not using a lot of power during the day, your system simply wont produce any more than 5kw anyway! Its like having the handbrake on all day and you have simply paid way to much for a system that is not going to work properly.

However, customers with very high day time usage can defiantly benefit from having the larger system.  If you use air conditioning, pool pumps, heaters and generally use more than 4-6kw every hour during the day then it defiantly may be of benefit to get the larger system.

It’s important to make an educated decision when working this out, or you may find you have spent far more than you needed too and getting no more result than if you had installed a standard 6kw system.

Lets take an example;

John and Judy both work during the day, most of their consumption is late afternoon and early evening, they don’t have a pool and and there usage is about 20kw a day.

If they were to get a 10kw system. It would simply run at 5kw all day due to the export limiting functions required by Ergon and they would have wasted their money getting a larger system.  The system would produce about 26kw per day and they would have paid as much as $5000 more for their system. A very unfortunate outcome indeed!

So in summary be careful of “one size fits all” solutions from companies trying to sell you their “highest profit” solution.  Make and informed decision.

 

 


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