Once your system is operating, you will be eager to see how much energy your system generates. This monitoring capability is provided by the microinverters or the string inverter and power optimizers, depending on your system configuration, combined with the monitoring system. A stand-alone monitor could also be installed if you prefer.
In most cases, there is one microinverter per solar panel. Each microinverter’s primary function is to convert the solar panel’s DC form of electricity into the AC form. It also measures the amount of AC electricity it outputs. Each microinverter continuously feeds this data to a central controller that delivers the data to a cloud-based data storage and application system. Using the internet or a mobile application, you can then view or download the data in a table or graph format. Since each microinverter sends data, you can see the energy production at the individual solar panel level.
As a string inverter is central, it can only report on the total electricity from all the panels connected to it. A string inverter cannot report on a per solar panel basis. If power optimizers are used with a string inverter, then the system can report on each solar panel because there is usually one power optimizer per panel. Each can collect production data for its connected solar panel. Although different manufacturers’ energy monitoring devices display data in various formats, they all convey the same basic information: the amount of energy (kWh) and power (kW), on a per panel or system-wide basis at a particular time or over a certain time period (per minute, hour, day, week, month, year, lifetime). The data is often provided in a graph or tabular format that you can download and then analyze. Using this data, you can see the amount of energy generated on a specific day.
The information displayed will range from the following: what time energy was generated; the time of the day that generated the most energy; what effect does a cloudy day have on energy production; what effect does shading have on energy production and which panel(s) are affected and at what time; how much does each side of the roof generate (if you have panels on multiple roofs); and much more. Since historical data is available, you can notice any abnormalities in production and pinpoint it to an inverter, optimizer, or panel. Enphase’s monitoring system works well as part of an overall home energy solution, giving system owners insights into their energy usage.
SolarEdge’s monitoring system includes sensors and transmitters built into the optimizers and inverters. Inverter and module-level, real-time monitoring are free for 25 years. SolarEdge inverters are among the most popular and high-quality solar power inverters, with a reputation of reliability. Curb energy monitoring systems provide another smart home product. Curb has both app and web software, letting you monitor everything at your home. In monitoring your energy consumption, you can begin making smarter decisions about your energy usage. Curb energy monitoring systems can also help you understand your energy bills in real-time.