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What Are Solar Monitoring Systems? (2024 Guide)

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Author Image Written by Tamara Jude Updated 04/17/2024

To maximize your solar panels, consider investing in a solar monitoring system. This technology tracks energy production and usage in real-time, so you won’t have to guess how well your system performs. It can also alert you to dips in output or problems with individual panels, batteries, or other system components.

Many of the best-rated solar companies offer solar monitoring systems. We researched the most popular systems on the market to understand how they work, what to look for, and the best options for homeowners.

How Do Solar Monitoring Systems Work?

Solar monitoring systems use sensors and communication devices attached to your solar arrays. The sensors are often integrated into the inverter and track production data from each panel. They transmit information about the voltage, current, and power output to and transmit it to a communication device like a gateway. From there, the data uploads to a cloud-based software via ethernet, WiFi, or a celullar network.  

Homeowners can view information about their system through a dedicated web portal or mobile app. Most monitoring systems present the final data as bar graphs, charts, or other data visualization. Monitoring data shows the power production rates for each solar panel, daily solar energy production, historical trends, and information about your energy usage. You can then compare your home’s power consumption, including peak usage periods, to the energy your system produces to meet your energy needs. You’ll also be able to manage and optimize charging and discharge cycles for any of the best performing solar batteries

In addition to real-time monitoring, many systems will proactively notify you of any solar system issues, from system faults to declining power production. These alerts help you address problems quickly, reducing system downtime. Some systems even provide weather alerts for low-sunlight days or incoming storms. These features allow you to plan for emergencies and ensure you have efficient stored solar power for later use.

Three main types of solar monitoring systems are available from solar equipment manufacturers, professional installers, and third-party monitoring companies. We’ll explore each monitoring type below. 

Equipment-Integrated Solar Monitoring

Solar manufacturers may enhance their products with a built-in monitoring system. This equipment-integrated technology can be built into either the solar panels or the inverter, which converts the DC output from your panels into AC power for your home. Solar inverter monitoring systems are the more common of the two. They typically offer easy-to-read results on a website or mobile app.

Inverter-based monitoring systems typically track energy production, basic home energy use, and system performance data. Most companies use either string inverters (connected to multiple panels) or microinverters (installed on individual panels). A microinverter monitoring system offers module-level monitoring, allowing you to see individual panel performance. 

Many inverter manufacturers include monitoring software with their equipment. Though this software is tied to a specific inverter brand, it will typically work with many solar panel brands. However, module-level monitoring or more advanced features may come at an additional cost.

Installer Solar Monitoring

Some solar installers offer monitoring apps alongside their energy systems. These apps often customize and enhance the data provided by your inverter’s built-in monitoring. Installer-run apps offer clear insights into daily production, upcoming electric bills, and easy online payment options. However, their detail may not be as granular or insightful as module-level systems.

Some installer-based software directly connects to customer support for troubleshooting and maintenance scheduling. They may also provide local weather alerts to help you prepare for low-sun days or dangerous conditions. You can usually access this data via a dedicated website or downloadable app for your phone.

Third-Party Home Energy Monitors

Third-party or standalone energy monitoring systems come from companies that don’t manufacture solar equipment or offer installation services. These systems focus on your entire home’s energy picture, not just solar. They use your electrical panel’s current transfer (CT) sensors to track energy flow. Some can even monitor individual major appliances or integrate with smart home devices for deeper insight into where your energy goes.

Beyond displaying your current energy use, these monitors typically provide cost analysis, historical trends, customizable goals, and alerts for unusual energy spikes. Some even estimate greenhouse gas emissions. They work alongside your existing solar monitoring, and many offer solar-specific features. However, the level of integrated data may vary between brands.

If you go this route, we recommend hiring a professional electrician to ensure safety and proper installation. However, some systems are designed to be DIY-friendly. Always consult product instructions carefully.

Check out the video below for a quick look at how microinverters work and the benefits they offer. Home technology expert Ross Trethewey also explains what makes a roof good for solar and walks through the installation process.

What Are Some Top Solar Monitoring Systems?

Below is an overview of some top solar monitoring solutions and home energy monitors. 

Enphase Enlighten

Enphase, a leading microinverter manufacturer, provides the Enphase Enlighten monitoring system with its products. This system provides real-time information on system performance and energy production, including modular-level monitoring with detailed analytics for each panel in your solar project. It also tracks energy usage patterns and offers alerts for malfunctioning panels or lower production levels.

Homeowners can access system data through the Enphase MyEnlighten website or the Enlighten Mobile app for Android or iOS mobile devices.

SolarEdge Monitoring

SolarEdge offers high-quality string inverters for residential installations and provides individual panel performance monitoring with DC power optimizers. These optimizers improve panel performance and offer real-time power production data. Without power optimizers, you can only track total system production levels. SolarEdge’s data tracking includes energy usage patterns, historical performance data, and remote troubleshooting options.

The mySolarEdge app and dedicated web portal offer additional monitoring, including solar battery levels, smart device remote operation, and automated report scheduling. The app is available for both iOS and Android mobile devices.

SunPower Monitoring

Exclusive to SunPower solar customers, SunPower solar monitoring provides its own monitoring through the mySunPower software. Since SunPower uses exclusive in-house components paired with Maxeon high-efficiency panels, homeowners cannot customize their system with other inverter options. 

The mySunPower platform provides estimated bill details, local weather, and real-time and historical energy production data. You can also check performance details on the company’s patented SunVault energy storage system. We discovered that module-level tracking is not available with this software. All data will reflect total energy consumption and production.

The mySunPower system is accessible for Android, iOS, and web-capable devices. 

Tesla Monitoring

Tesla provides a brand-exclusive monitoring app for its customers. The app works with Tesla solar panels, solar roofing, the Tesla Powerwall, and Tesla electric vehicles. When we downloaded the app, we could add various Tesla products for easy, all-in-one product management. The app provides data visualizations for solar power production and home energy use. You see detailed information on real-time and historical production levels, even based on the time of day. 

Tesla only offers solar monitoring through the dedicated app and does not provide a web alternative. Additional uses include controlling your Tesla Powerwall during charging and discharging mode, including switching to battery-only power. Its monitor software also lacks module-level production data and weather updates. 

CURB Monitoring System

The CURB monitoring system provides real-time energy usage data using CTs. Attaching CTs to every circuit allows you to receive more detailed energy use tracking. The CURB system offers individual tracking for appliances, solar energy systems, EV chargers, and smart home devices. The tracking details expand with additional CTs, but you must pay more for extra sensors. 

CURB monitoring includes customizable energy usage alerts for pre-set usage thresholds, helping you converse energy usage and save money. In 2020, CURB merged with Elevation Solar and became part of its Home Energy Solutions Division.  The Apple Store and Google Play carry the Energy CURB app. You can also sign up for email alerts for additional energy-saving tips and summaries on your energy usage.

Sense Energy Monitor

The Sense energy monitor uses AI device profiles to track energy consumption throughout your home. The profiles offer detailed energy consumption results, including real-time data, energy usage alerts, and historical data analysis. The Sense energy monitor also provides energy production with specialized solar inverter sensors and tracks any excess energy sent back to the grid, known as grid exports.

Sense provides both app and web-based access to your monitoring data. For the app, use your iOS or Android device, and for the web-based dashboard, use any internet-accessible device.

How Do I Choose a Solar Panel Monitoring System?

Whether considering an integrated monitoring system or a standalone option, you should decide what features, data, and controls you need for your home. To help you decide, we’ve compiled a list of factors to consider when comparing solar panel mentoring systems. 

Accessibility: Decide whether you need web access, a dedicated app, or access to both options. You’ll also want a user-friendly dashboard or interface with simple navigation and monitoring details.
Alerts and notifications: Pick a monitoring system with timely, customizable alerts for poor performance, local weather, or malfunctions. 
Compatibility: Some systems only work with specific panel and inverter brands. If you already have a solar system, ensure the monitoring system you’re considering will work with it.
Data reporting: Invest in a monitoring system that provides real-time data on energy production, consumption, and historical analysis. Access to up-to-date details ensures your panels continue performing at peak capacity, maximizing your energy savings. 
Overall cost: Many monitoring systems include recurring monthly cloud backup or data analysis costs. If you want granular production details, you must buy additional circuit sensors. Standalone energy monitoring costs around $299 but could cost more with added sensors and equipment. 
Troubleshooting and support: Look for systems with reliable technical support for system issues and troubleshooting. An online knowledge base or manual can also be helpful.

Our Conclusion

Solar monitoring systems ensure even the best solar panels continue performing at optimum levels. These systems typically come with your solar inverter or from your installation company. However, availability varies based on your system’s design and selected installer. Stand-alone energy monitoring can provide insight into your power production, but you may need additional sensors to connect one to your system.

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FAQ About Solar Monitoring Systems

Does SolarEdge charge for its monitoring?

No, SolarEdge does not charge for its monitoring services. You receive 25 years of free module-level monitoring, the same timeframe as the manufacturer’s warranty.

Can you monitor individual solar panels?

Yes, you can monitor individual solar panels, but you will the right equipment. Your system must use either microinverters or DC power optimizers for a string inverter. You’ll also need a solar monitoring system or energy monitor capable of tracking individual panel production. 

How do I monitor my solar panel usage?

To monitor your solar panel usage, you need a solar monitoring system. These systems provide detailed analysis of energy consumption and production, real-time monitoring, and system issue alerts. Some solar providers and inverter manufacturers include monitoring services with their products, or you can purchase standalone energy monitors to track your system’s performance. 

Is solar consumption monitoring worth it?

Solar consumption monitoring is worth it if you want to maximize your solar investment and understand your home’s energy patterns. It helps you identify issues quickly, optimize how you use your solar power, and potentially even save money on utility bills.

Our Rating Methodology

We are committed to providing comprehensive and unbiased reviews to our readers. This means earning your trust through transparent reviews and data to back up our ratings and recommendations. Our rating system for solar providers is on a 100-point system based on five factors:

  • Payment options (40 points): Options include purchase, loan, lease, and Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs). Companies receive points for each of the four options they provide.
  • Solar services (30 points): Does the company provide in-house installation of solar panels and battery backups? Can the company also monitor energy production and perform energy-efficiency audits to ensure system performance? The more options available, the higher the score. 
  • Warranty options (10 points): The success of a residential solar system depends on the workmanship, performance guarantees, and length of product coverage. The more warranties a company offers, the higher the score it receives. 
  • State availability (10 points): We award the most points to companies with the broadest service area and state availability.
  • Reputation (10 points): We factor in how the Business Better Bureau (BBB) scores each company. We deduct points for any alerts or pending lawsuits.

Total scores are divided by 20 for a final 5-point rating scale.

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