Why Does Your Solar System Need a Monitoring System?

Yash Shah

When it comes to maximizing the power and profit of your investment, monitoring your commercial solar photovoltaic (PV) system is essential. While rare, there are instances when your solar system may not run at maximum productivity. Without an effective monitoring system and efficient triage protocol, any minor issue can go unnoticed, and thereby impede the energy production and the revenue stream that your solar PV system is expected to generate.Photovoltaic monitoring systems can be split into three different categories:System-level monitoring: System-level monitoring provides insight at a PV energy meter level. Frequently a PV energy meter is a requirement for state or utility-level incentive based PV system programs. This meter will tell you the total system generation (e.g. XX Kilowatt Hours an hour, day, year, etc. ),  but any equipment fault on a site isn't communicated.Inverter-level monitoring: Inverters are responsible for transforming Direct Current (DC) from solar panels into Alternative Current (AC), which is compatible with your facility’s electrical system.  Since inverters are critical in converting energy, monitoring them is crucial. Inverter-level monitoring is a standard method of gathering a PV system’s performance and status information. This level of monitoring combines system-level monitoring with an additional set of data points to enhance system visibility.Module-level monitoring: Module-level monitoring provides information on individual panels. It increases the visibility for an entire site, including system-level and inverter-level monitoring. This makes it easier to locate any potential issues, such as broken or shaded modules. The ability to readily identify the source of a problem will cut down the amount of time an O&M technician needs to spend on-site and reduce your maintenance costs. Most commercial solar monitoring systems include “fault triggering logic,” which creates an alert about a specific issue.  Although the information can expose a problem, it cannot provide the root cause of the failure. Complete commercial solar PV system monitoring requires in-depth analysis of the data generated by the equipment at a very granular level.Partnering with an experienced O&M team takes the guesswork out of your solar PV system maintenance. Operation and maintenance companies such as MaxSolar offer 24/7 system monitoring, including preventative maintenance, emergency response and dispatch, array cleaning and vegetation control in addition to asset management and technical services. Learn more about MaxSolar’s services here.Guaranteeing the profitability and overall health of your solar PV system is simple with the help of a good monitoring system and a capable O&M team managing your data.