How Solar Monitoring Systems Work
01/27/2017
Tagged In: O&M, Solar Farms

A solar monitoring system connected to a commercial solar array is an extremely helpful tool for asset management keeping a watchful eye over a solar project all year. Monitoring can be managed from anywhere in the world or within feet of the array itself.

A solar monitoring system is a computer program that accesses, compiles and reports on data generated from a solar array. Through thorough and regular analysis, operators can determine if the solar array is, among other things, meeting or exceeding performance projections. It will also indicate when the array or part of the array is offline or if it’s not performing as expected.

Energy Generation

Every solar array has a projected amount of energy that it will produce each month based on several factors including:

  • Solar Panel Efficiency
  • Size of Panels and System Size
  • Solar Radiation in the Region
  • Angle of the Sun to the Solar Panel
  • Weather and Seasonal Variations
  • Pitch and Orientation of the Solar Panels
  • Temperature
  • Shade
  • Panel Soiling

Before any solar project’s commencement, the positive and negative results of these factors are compiled. Energy projections over the life of a solar farm are made to determine the long-term costs and potential revenues the project will generate. Solar financing and investors depend heavily on these energy projections.

System Events

Whenever a solar array is under-producing, or not generating energy, it means it’s costing investors money. And, as we mentioned in the Solar Panel Cleaning article (link to blog), soiled panels can degrade PV performance up to 25% which can increase the pay back time by three to five years. An undetected outage could have even more dire consequences over the long haul. Which is why emergency solar services for offline outages are extremely important.

Should a solar farm be underperforming or offline, key personnel will receive automatic emails of events affecting the system performance. Additionally, monitoring systems have the capability of running remote and/or onsite diagnostic programs to narrow down system failures to a particular string, inverter or other issue to expedite repairs. In the instance of panel soiling, as expected, data trends will show a declining production in energy as more and more soiling occurs on the surface of the solar modules.

No matter what the cause of the under production or outage, the faster the solar array returns to normal operational levels, the better. A trusted O&M provider is the key to optimum solar array performance. Contact us today if you want to enhance your solar monitoring for better energy output.