In this increasingly connected world, where everything from our coffee machines to our thermostats is becoming “smart,” it should come as no surprise that the IoT is starting to play a role in solar panel installation.
IoT— which stands for “the Internet of Things” — refers to any device that can connect to another device (such as a smartphone) via the internet. In other words, when you take an ordinary device and connect it to the internet, it gets an added level of intelligence that enables it to “communicate” in real-time with other devices.
The IoT has promising applications in solar energy generation, since it can mitigate the higher cost of maintenance and regulate power usage. Let’s see how solar solutions can be upgraded by IoT and how it can help you better manage your assets.
The integration of the IoT in a solar energy system
To harness the IoT in renewable energy production, the generation, transmission, and distribution equipment are outfitted with smart sensors. This enables you to monitor and control the working of the equipment remotely via real-time connectivity.
A solar energy system for commercial use comes with some kind of monitor, which may be a physical monitor at your home or an app you can access online. Some providers don’t offer a monitoring service, in which case you can track solar energy production through the system’s inverter itself.
With a traditional sensor installed in the solar system, you can keep tabs on how your system is working, including your solar panels’ daily energy production. It also allows you to identify particular issues in your system should they crop up.
The IoT provides the same functions, but when your energy system is part of a massive network of similar devices, its newfound cognition improves the efficiency of the entire system. You can now automatically monitor and control a variety of elements in the system.
The high-tech sensors collect and send large amounts of real-time data from energy meters and inverters which is then stored in the cloud. The data is processed and presented to you in the form of SMS notification, reports, alerts, mails, notifications and useful insights.
Insights you can get from an IoT-connected solar energy system
The solar unit’s performance
Health of the PV panels, batteries, and overall system
Your energy usage
Actual vs. modeled energy production
The energy you supply to the grid
When and how you’re loading your system
System faults diagnostics
An IoT monitoring system will alert you as soon as anything goes wrong with your solar system. You don’t need to worry about issues going unnoticed as the installer will quickly diagnose and resolve any issues, which will reduce downtime.
For a successful IoT enabled solar solution, it requires the availability of consistent internet connectivity. A wireless or fibre internet solution will serve as the backbone of the IoT features and functions, linking together all devices and systems.
A high-speed, uncapped, low-latency internet connection is able to cope with big spikes of incoming data, making it the ideal fit for IoT purposes. This type of internet solution is less prone to poor network performance, which could cause you to miss important data indicating performance issues.