Solar installation companies are realizing the value of including or adding a monitoring system to their customers’ projects. Monitoring adds significant value to help the customer understand whole-house energy management, and assists service departments in diagnosing any issues. A few of the larger installation companies’ offerings are listed below:
Akeena uses Fat Spaniel’s residential system (described above). Lighthouse Solar includes eGauge’s system as its Lightgauge monitoring system. PHAT Energy’s PHATLogger is an open hardware, software, and data platform that the company uses for its solar installations. It also plans to provide the device to the monitoring market by the end of 2010. Currently, the device can collect data from SMA America and Solectria inverters. Data is uploaded via a WiFi connection to the customer’s router. PHAT Energy plans to have an iPhone application by the end of 2010. REC Solar currently includes The Energy Detective’s solar generation and building load-monitoring solution with each residential system. If the customer chooses to use Tigo’s module maximizing system, then a Tigo monitoring system is installed instead. SolarCity’s in-house SolarGuard system has a Web site and iPhone application for users, and is actively monitored for any underperformance. SunPower’s in-house Monitoring System has a wireless in-home display, Web interface, and iPhone application.
Google PowerMeter makes a consumer’s energy consumption data transparent and readily accessible from any Web connection. The goals? Heighten energy awareness and get consumers to take ownership of and reduce their energy usage. The PowerMeter allows users to track their energy use over time—by the day, week, or month—in a graphical format and to investigate phantom (always-on) loads, which are reflected by darker, shaded portions in the graphs. Consumers can also set their energy savings goals with the Budget Tracker and share their consumption (and reduction) information with family and friends. So far, availability is limited to certain partnering utilities and companies in the United States—SDG&E (San Diego), JEA (Florida), Current Cost, eGauge, and Energy Inc.