Everything You Need to Know About Solar Monitoring

April 22 2021

Home solar panels equipped with a solar monitoring system

Solar monitoring is the best way to track the efficiency of your home solar system. A solar monitoring system ensures that your panels are working properly and maximizing output each day.

Think of it this way - if a business owner hires an employee, he or she will want to make sure that the financial benefit of hiring someone is greater than the cost of paying their salary.

Similarly, solar monitoring acts as a way to check your return on investment to ensure that you’re making a profit. Learn more about how to monitor solar panel output below.

How to Monitor Solar Panel Output

A solar monitoring system is used to measure and track a panel’s daily energy production. Often, monitoring software is synced with an app that gives constant, detailed information on energy generation.

Here’s how a solar monitoring system works:

  • Solar monitoring is set up through your solar inverters.

Most companies offer inverters pre-equipped with proprietary monitoring software. If you’re setting up your system yourself, you’ll need to make sure you purchase an inverter that is compatible with solar monitoring software.

Also, be sure to take pictures of the serial numbers on each of your inverters before installing the panels over them.

  • Your solar inverter will convert electric current from DC to AC. As this happens, information is collected and sent to a cloud-based solar monitoring system.

Solar monitoring typically doesn’t require WiFi. Most systems are capable of using cellular data. However, microinverter monitoring systems require a WiFi connection.

If you are using a microinverter, you may want to purchase a WiFi extender.

  • You can access information about energy production, panel efficiency, and potential system problems from a smartphone app.

Most solar panel monitoring methods connect to smartphone apps. This makes it easy to access information 24/7 with or without a WiFi connection.

Solar Panel Monitoring Methods

When it comes to choosing a solar monitoring system, you have options. Many inverters work with a variety of solar panel monitoring methods, but you’ll need to make sure that your setup is compatible with your home and panels.

Solar panel monitoring methods can be either grid-tie or off-grid monitoring systems. Choose one based on whether or not you plan to install a solar system that is connected to the electric grid.

Note: Grid-tie systems are compatible with net metering programs while off-grid systems are not.

Here are the most popular brands for solar monitoring:

  • Enphase

Enphase offers the “MyEnlighten” solar panel monitoring system. This is a simple, easy-to-use system with highlights like panel health, energy production tracking, and data-sharing features. It also has a quick status indicator that gives you peace of mind at a glance.

This system uses micro-inverters on each panel, allowing for module-level monitoring. Learn more about Enphase here.

  • SolarEdge

SolarEdge solar panel monitoring offers performance reports in financial terms. Get information on how much money you’re saving, as well as technical performance and maintenance needs.

Unlike Enphase, SolarEdge uses power optimizers wired to a central inverter. Monitoring sensors and transmitters are built into the power optimizers and solar inverters, eliminating the need for hardware. Learn more about SolarEdge here.

  • SunPower

Like other solar panel monitoring methods, SunPower systems allow homeowners to track daily energy production. In addition, they offer information on the number of tons of carbon dioxide your system has eliminated and lifetime bill savings.

Learn more about SunPower here.

These are just 3 of the many different options out there for solar panel monitoring. Learn more about how to choose the right fit for your home below.

Man using solar panel monitoring methods to track panel output

Choosing a Solar Monitoring System

The beauty of solar panels is that they operate so quietly and seamlessly that you don’t even notice they’re there! While this is great 99% of the time, it’s not so great when something goes wrong.

Stuff happens. From inverter faults to breaker trips to animals chewing through wires on your roof, there is are a variety of things that could affect your panels’ efficiency. Without solar monitoring, these issues may go unnoticed until you receive a high electricity bill at the end of the month.

While there’s no doubt that solar panel monitoring is important, how do you choose the right system for your home?

A qualified solar installer can help you set up your system with ease. Solar installation companies will help you choose both the panels and monitoring system you need for success. They’ll also be able to provide you with additional information on each of the different solar panel monitoring methods.

To find a quality installer in your area, use Greenlife Solar. We partner with top, pre-screened companies nationwide to give homeowners a transparent look at all their options. Simply enter some information about your home and we’ll provide you with free quotes from a variety of companies in your area.

Find a Qualified Solar Installer in Your Area Today.