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So you’ve got solar, but is it smart?

Many people with solar don’t realise that they could be getting so much more out of their solar system – more savings on their bill, a lower carbon footprint, and added convenience in running their household.

A ‘smart’ solar system is a PV solar system that shows a home’s energy consumption and its solar energy production.

Smart solar is about more than monitoring – it’s about control and ‘the big picture’ of your energy consumption patterns and habits. Only a small number of Australia’s 1.5+ million solar homes are taking advantage of ‘smart’ technology at this point, despite the benefits and the relatively low installation cost.

Maximising the value of your home’s solar energy requires insights

You can increase the value of the energy generated by your rooftop solar system by actually using it. Sounds obvious, but the average household will often sell more than 50% of the solar energy they produce back to the grid!

If you want to get more from your solar, the first thing you need to know is what your solar is doing. Then you can take action.

Are you driving blind with your solar?

Did you know that 1 in 4 solar system owners report having had issues with their solar systems (Choice)?

This is probably because the vast majority of solar homes across Australia and globally have no insights into their solar energy production or household energy consumption patterns.

Having a solar system without monitoring and control capabilities is like having a car without a dashboard, steering wheel, or even windows. Without monitoring, all you can do is assume that your solar is working correctly until your next electricity bill shows up. Without control, you can’t take action to maximise the value of your solar energy.

What is smart solar?

The term ‘smart’ has come to be widely used to describe any device that can communicate over the internet; a smart device is responsive and connected.

Many ordinary electronic devices have a smart counterpart: phones, washing machines, dryers, water heaters and even window blinds.

But did you know that smart devices in your home can be controlled remotely via your smart phone or computer to optimise their usage?

Technologies like carbonTRACK allow you to switch an air conditioner on before you come home, switch off a hot water unit  or a pool pump when they’re not required.

Three amazing things a smart solar system can do:

  1. It allows you (the user/owner) to monitor solar energy production and performance from anywhere with internet or mobile phone connectivity;
  2. It allows you to control devices in your home to optimise the value of the solar energy produced; and
  3. It gives you visibility and insights into your energy production and consumption that allows you to both decrease your overall energy consumption and maximise the value of your solar investment.

Why monitoring & energy management systems don’t automatically mean smart solar

Solar is not necessarily smart by default. In order for solar to be smart, it needs the right equipment and software.

What, then – in terms of equipment – is the difference between a smart solar system and an ordinary solar system? Generally speaking, your options are either a solar monitoring system or a home energy management system. But neither of these on its own will result in a smart solar system.

Off-the-shelf solar monitoring systems are easy enough to come by. These will give you visibility into how much energy your solar system produces – but no visibility into your energy consumption, and they usually lack the ability to ‘control’ your energy usage.

Home energy management systems on the other hand, will often give you control of your household devices (for example Apple Home), but provide not visibility into what your solar is doing, and no insights into how to improve your home’s overall energy effectiveness – such as how to reduce your overall energy consumption or maximise your solar usage.

You could theoretically install a monitoring system alongside a home energy management system in an effort to magically generate ‘smart solar’, but the results are likely to be unwieldy and ineffective.

In this situation, you would need to toggle between different platforms or apps to try to piece together an understanding of your energy usage habits and how they align with your solar production.

Understanding your energy use habits is the first step towards taking meaningful action to decrease your energy bills. However, this understanding can be difficult to achieve if you don’t have your solar production, energy consumption and control panels in one place; in a single platform.

carbonTRACK is the missing piece

Making your solar system smarter and one cost effective package, carbonTRACK combines the visibility of a solar monitoring system with the control and insights only possible with an energy management system. This not only allows you to quickly, easily (and remotely) improve your energy consumption patterns and put your solar energy to work, it also means that carbonTRACK is able to make suggestions for you – based on your consumption habits.

carbonTRACK makes your solar system Smart. Find out how.