PacB Group // The Nature and Importance of an Effective Solar Monitoring System


The Nature and Importance of an Effective Solar Monitoring System

This is not, as some might infer, a programme designed to study our sun as it progresses through the various phases of its cyclic activities. Instead, in this context, the term solar monitoring actually refers to the ability to keep a close watch on the operation and performance of photovoltaic devices. The rooftop panels that have become a common sight in our suburbs and office parks are becoming increasingly important. It is a more sustainable and far cleaner source of electricity than relying on the combustion of fossil fuels to drive the nation’s power generators.

Many remain unfamiliar with the functioning of this new breed of static power generators. Consequently, some insight into the principle, on which this technology is based, should clarify the need for a means of monitoring the status of a solar panel installation.

The so-called photovoltaic effect can occur when a photon of light strikes the surface of certain semi-conducting materials. When impacting a suitably-doped semi-conductor, it dislodges an electron, which, as a result of its negative charge, leads to a potential difference between the upper layer and a second semi-conductor layer, doped with an excess of positively charged particles. The two layers make up a single photovoltaic cell, and when connected, the result is a flow of electric current, which may then either be stored by a battery, or utilised directly for power.

Since the output from a single cell is actually quite small, large numbers must be connected to form an array of one or more panels, in order to produce sufficient power. Among its other uses, solar monitoring acts as a tool that is important for the early detection of any problems that might limit the expected yield of an installation.

Despite the rather obvious potential value of these early warnings, a surprising number of installations do not include access to this type of facility. What may be less obvious, but is perhaps a more compelling reason to consider adding this facility, is that it is also able to combine error detection with real-time visualisation of operating data, to provide panel owners with all the functionality of a comprehensive energy management system. In short, an effective solar monitoring application offers a means to enjoy all of the promised bang that initially prompted the purchaser to fork out the bucks.

It is easy to make the mistake of believing that, because these rooftop panels have no moving parts, there must be little that could possibly interfere with their performance. However, the panels are just one of several components that make up the overall installation, and they are just as susceptible to the effect of dirt and grime as any window pane. When less light reaches the photosensitive surfaces, the result will be less power. So, by detecting the reduced input of power, a solar monitoring facility can serve as a timely reminder that it may be overdue for a good clean.

Responsibility for the mains power being delivered to the home and paid for by consumers rests with the nation’s various municipalities. However, where energy is self-produced, responsibility for the equipment will rest with the supplier or installer (while it is still under warranty), and the homeowner personally thereafter, or with any third party with which he or she may have subsequently signed a maintenance agreement.

Faults that could halt or limit power production can occur in panels, wiring, storage batteries, or inverters. Regardless of who may be responsible for fixing them, the information provided by a solar monitoring application could save both time and money, while adding little to the overall cost.

Our qualified technicians offer support and advice in the selection of the right power solution for your needs by calculating your power requirements.

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