Monitoring Batteryless PV Systems: Page 5 of 5


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A monitoring system can help assess PV system performance in real time or over a duration of time, and provide on-site and remotely accessible information for system owners and installers, and the general public.
Batteryless PV monitoring systems provide Web portals for remote, online access to the system through a computer, smartphone, or tablet.
The Fronius Datamanager is a wireless data logger that comes preinstalled in new inverters, and can be retrofitted to older models.
Solectria’s SolrenView DAS Gateway can monitor up to 16 inverters and owners can opt to share data publicly.
While net-energy meters and PV production meters both look like the ubiquitous kWh meter, it’s their position in the system that defines what they are monitoring: A net meter is placed between the AC service entrance and the utility grid connection.
While net-energy meters and PV production meters both look like the ubiquitous kWh meter, it’s their position in the system that defines what they are monitoring: A PV production meter is positioned between the inverter and the AC service entrance connection.
PV system data can be displayed via a wireless tabletop unit, like the SMA America Sunny Beam.
A current transducer snaps closed around a wire to measure current via induction.
Data can be conveyed from the data logger to the display or network connection via dedicated cable, wirelessly (as shown), or over power lines.
Most monitoring systems display very similar data, albeit in different visual interfaces. The biggest difference is that MLPE systems, like this Enphase Enlighten display, allow monitoring of individual PV modules.
Schneider Electric’s Conext Monitor 20 can monitor data from up to three Conext RL inverters.
PV monitoring options offered by inverter manufacturers, such as Solectria’s SolrenView (above), offer similar features and customizable views.
The Enphase Envoy collects data via the power lines from Enphase microinverters; besides an AC power supply, no additional wiring is necessary.
The SolarEdge mobile app allows monitoring system performance from almost anywhere. Most portals also provide email alerts.
ABB’s Aurora Vision Web portal displays data from each microinverter. The eight inverters in this system appear as overlapping lines on the graph—each inverter’s production has been nearly identical for the week shown, indicating that the system is performing well.

Third-Party Monitoring

Third-party monitoring providers, such as Deck Monitoring (now part of AlsoEnergy), Draker, eGauge, Locus Energy, and Solar-Log, offer options to monitor common inverters for systems small or large. For multiple systems monitoring, as an installer might need, choosing a third-party monitoring system means that different inverter brands can be monitored from the same Web portal, potentially saving time and making the installation and programming learning curve less steep. Hardware costs can range from hundreds to many thousands of dollars, depending on the PV system’s size and data granularity desired.  For smaller PV systems (less than 10 kW and up to 30 kW), third-party Web portal access may be free.

Deck Monitoring, Locus Energy, and Solar-Log all offer a residential revenue-grade energy meter with a cellular uplink, so no on-site Internet connection is necessary. The meter has inputs for direct communication with inverters and transmits data to the third-party’s hosted and customized Web portal.

eGauge and Solar-Log offer options for monitoring building energy consumption and PV production. The eGauge power meter can monitor up to 12 electrical circuits, and a building’s total electrical consumption, solar generation, and load consumption. With its built-in server, the data can be viewed by any browser. Data is updated as quickly as every second, and the device can record up to 30 years of data in its built-in memory.

Solar-Log’s 300 model can monitor multiple inverters up to 15 kW. Small appliances can be monitored individually with networked “smart-plug” devices, and two optional external electric meters can add metering capacity. A wireless model is available for connecting the Solar-Log to a WiFi network and the Solar-Log WEB portal provides basic monitoring free for systems 30 kW or less.

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