As solar continues to swell in popularity, more and more solar monitoring systems are entering the market, increasingly viewed as an essential component of any quality solar system. With energy prices reaching new highs, energy retailers introducing new ‘demand response’ programs and continuous technology advancements, consumers can and should expect more of their solar, and of their solar monitoring solutions.
Solar monitoring alone is just the beginning when it comes to getting the most out of solar investments. While it is useful to see the energy you use and produce, the real value comes from being able to take action.
Ultimately, a modern quality solar monitoring system shouldn’t just inform users whether or not their solar is functioning. It should give home and business owners the tools necessary to see the energy they use and produce, and the ability to act on these insights. Whether it’s by switching appliances on and off remotely, participating in demand response programs or scheduling usage for when energy is cheapest.
Here we take a look at what to expect from a solar monitoring system, and how a good energy management system can help deliver a quicker return on solar investment and enable active participation in the future of energy.
Typically, once users decide to take the solar leap, the cheapest and simplest option available is inverter monitoring; it usually comes with the system. This level of monitoring biggest limitation is that it shows only the energy generated, not the energy used.
This of course is only one part of the equation and why third-party solar monitoring solutions are growing in popularity.
Different solar monitoring systems have different capabilities and user interfaces but, as a minimum, they should provide the following insights:
If energy storage is a part of the setup, the system should also provide insights into energy stored and battery health.
Historical analytics can also play an important role, so energy users can understand, and measure how their energy consumption is tracking over time.
The monitoring functionality as described above provides valuable information. But to make the most of solar investments and move towards energy independence, it’s important that an energy user is both educated and empowered.
So while a solar monitoring solution is a ‘nice to have’, what ultimately delivers value is not the monitoring itself, it’s what an energy user can do with the data and insights they gather.
An analogy our CTO often uses is that of a car navigation system telling you there’s traffic ahead. That’s great information but essentially meaningless unless the system can also tell you how to best navigate around that traffic quickly and easily. Which of course it does.
And it is this intelligence that differentiates carbonTRACK from other solar monitoring or energy management solutions – except, unlike the car navigation, it will also ‘drive the car’ for the energy user. Our technology monitors energy use and production and uses these insights to help users make the most of their solar investment.
With carbonTRACK, energy users can actively control their energy ecosystem – including their solar, battery storage and appliances. They can switch appliances on or off through the dashboard or app, or set preferences and let the system automate the process. carbonTRACK can automate the use of solar when solar is available and decide when best to run loads or charge batteries.
Business customers can also use this automation avoid peak penalty rates and often crippling energy bills.
The way that we produce, consume and share energy is fundamentally changing. As investment in renewable energy grows, traditional energy consumers are also becoming energy generators. This influx of renewable power coupled with our ageing coal-powered infrastructure is putting pressure on the grid.
The solution to this issue is effectively a brand new energy management model. A decentralised model that harnesses the power generated by individual and network-grade solar power systems and effectively shares it across the grid and its various users.
A complete shift to this model is a large-scale change management exercise, but key energy retailers are starting to move in the right direction through programs such as residential and commercial ‘demand response’ initiatives. Energy retailers opt customers into these programs and ask them to curtail or limit their energy usage at peak times to help reduce the stress on the grid. Customers are financially rewarded when they do so.
Initiatives such as this illustrate the increasing importance of having the right energy management tools. carbonTRACK customers can see (in real-time) the energy they use and produce and actively participate in initiatives such as demand response - powering down their appliances or circuit level loads remotely from the dashboard or app.
With carbonTRACK, a home or business solar solution is part of a smart energy ecosystem, where key elements – including solar, appliances, circuit level loads and battery storage – are all working together to deliver optimum value. The platform was created to put users in control and while solar monitoring is an essential part of this, it’s also what ultimately enables the higher value control features.
Whether it’s switching on your home's pool pump from the office on a sunny day, or letting the system auto- schedule energy hungry devices to run when electricity is cheapest, carbonTRACK puts energy users in control. More than that, the platform provides users the tools to seamlessly participate in initiatives such as demand response and other emerging grid management initiatives.
Energy management has moved into a new era. Taking a holistic view of a user’s energy patterns and habits and offering control is not just a bonus, with the changing energy landscape, it’s becoming a necessity.