Solar Monitoring

Solar panel monitoring is a common feature associated with solar photovoltaic (PV) systems. Different options are available for our Austin solar customers and it is important for the consumer to know the difference when purchasing a system.

 

Types of Solar Monitoring

  • Inverter Display – Most string inverters have a screen that displays solar production. The Inverter Display usually records real-time production, daily production, and lifetime production.
  • Online Monitoring – Online monitoring provides solar production information over the internet. System owners can access their system monitoring anywhere internet is available. Different types of Online Monitoring Options are available.
    • System Level – The production of the entire system is available through System Level monitoring. String Inverters commonly come with System Level monitoring.
    • Module Level – Module Level monitoring allows the consumer to monitor the production of each individual solar module. Microinverters and DC Optimizers commonly come with module level monitoring.

 

System Level vs. Module Level Monitoring

The inverter used usually dictates what online monitoring service is available to the Customer. Different types of inverters are chosen based on environmental conditions (visit our Inverter Page for more information). Module Level monitoring is available on string inverters by adding DC Optimizers and System Level monitoring is available with microinverters by using a 3rd Party Monitor. Below are Pros and Cons to consider for each type of monitoring:

System Level Monitoringsunnyportal_2010

Pros:

  • No startup cost required.
  • Less expensive setup – The monitoring device and string inverter is less expensive.
  • Automated emails are sent to HEsolar when system error occurs.

Cons:

  • Less obvious if a faulty solar module ever occurs (not common).

Module Level Monitoring

Pros:

  • Monitoring is available for each individual solar module.enlighten
  • Future Shading issues can easily be observed.
  • Automated emails are sent to HEsolar when system error occurs.
  • Easy setup.

Cons:

  • Inverter/Optimizers located under solar modules and will need to be replaced before the solar module reaches it end of life cycle.
  • Activation Fee required for Enphase Microinverters.
  • Monitoring device requires close proximity to electrical service.

 

Brand vs. 3rd Party Monitoring

The inverters used by HESOLAR come with their own monitoring product. Brand specific monitoring products come with more features than 3rd party products.

Inverter Brand Monitoring

  • Communicates directly with the inverter.
  • Provides features that help HESOLAR guarantee system longevity.
  • Usually costs more than 3rd Party Monitoring devices

3rd Party Monitoring

  • Products are usually cheaper.Egauge is a popular 3rd-party monitoring device
  • Monitoring device measures current instead of communicating with the Inverter.
  • Products can also monitor loads.

It should be noted that Inverter Brand and 3rd Party Monitoring can both be used to communicate with the inverter and monitor loads in the consumer’s electrical system.

 

Connection Method of Monitoring Device

Hardwired – HESOLAR recommends this method of connection. A hardwired connection will connect the monitoring device (inverter) to the router through a Cat5 wire.

Wifi – Recommended when available, this method of connection is available through Enphase. A wifi USB device is used to connect the monitoring device to the router.

Bridge Port – This is the cheapest connection method, but not recommended because the bridge ports have a poor signal and last as little as 2 years before needing replacement. The bridge port communicates through the AC wiring of the consumer’s electrical system.

 


 

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