Solar power plant monitoring systems are software solutions that monitor the various aspects of solar power plants and provide reporting and analytics of these in a way that is easy for end users to understand. Monitoring and control of photovoltaic systems is essential for reliable functioning and maximum yield of any solar electric system.

Important parameters to be monitored

  • Energy generation parameters – total energy produced (kWh), DC power, AC power supplied to grip
  • Supplemental parameters – Temperature of panels/ inverters, operating time of inverter
  • Battery storage parameters– Energy stored, Time remaining to full charge/discharge, no. of charge/discharge cycles, storage efficiency, temperature of battery

Types of monitoring

  Inverter level String level Module level
Function It offers insights into an inverter’s status, adjustable parameters, and historic operating This takes the monitoring one more level down to include individual string of panels Micro inverters are installed to each module and monitoring is done at the PV module level
Benefits
  • Convenience
  • Low Cost
  • Track Inverter condition and efficiency
  • Moderate resolution and precision
  • Identify root cause of problem to the string
  • Highest resolution and precision
  • Identify root cause of the problems to the module
  • Efficiency benefits
  • Improved inverter reliability
Concerns
  • Poor resolution
  • Inability to identify string or module problems
  • Time consuming
  • Labour intensive<
  • Analytics required due to additional complexity
  • Increased installation cost
  • Increased points of failure
  • Analytics required
  • Not cost competitive
  • Increased points of failure

 

 

Benefits of monitoring systems

  • By having the efficiencies of your solar arrays at your fingertips, it is easy to find out when and where something goes wrong
  • A monitoring system can give you an alert on whatever display you are partial to (online, Smartphone, etc.), and/or it can send an email or SMS for instant notification if anything about the system falls outside of preset parameters.
  • Energy saving options
  • Minimization of losses due to shading and other effects on the solar panels
  • Reduced maintenance cost and time

Conclusion

Many home solar installations now are done by companies that specialize in putting together packages of the solar panels, the inverter, and a control panel to monitor the system. This way you can monitor your energy use, and manage that behaviour in order to maximize the effect of your solar energy production. The more information you have available as an energy consumer, the more in control you can be about your solar power plant.

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