Solar Energy PV Monitoring Options | Enphase - Fronius - SMA - Yaskawa Solectria - Xantrex

This is an overview of some of the available monitoring systems for inverters. Every inverter can log its production through native or third-party monitoring - it's just a matter of picking the right one.

Deck Monitoring Online Energy Management
Enphase Envoy Energy Monitoring Interface
Enphase Envoy Generation Data Screne
Fronius Energy Monitoring User Interface
SMA Sunny WebBox Monitoring Data Collection
Deck Monitoring Online Energy Management
Enphase Envoy Energy Monitoring Interface
Enphase Envoy Generation Data Screne
Fronius Energy Monitoring User Interface
SMA Sunny WebBox Monitoring Data Collection

One of the most enjoyable aspects of having a solar PV system is tracking how much energy the system has generated over time. There are many pv monitoring options available in the market, but in all of the cases the energy monitoring system has to be compatible with the inverter.

Always consider using the solar monitoring system and the solar software that the inverter manufacturer makes. However, in large systems (commercial or utility installations), considering other monitoring systems would sometimes makes sense since there are more variables that native monitoring systems might not be capable of handling.

In most cases, the generated energy can be monitored in 3 ways:

  1. Direct PC connection: The inverter can connect to a PC via a CAT5 cable or a bluetooth device. The free monitoring software is downloadable from the inverter manufacturer's website. This is the cheapest method of monitoring. It gives the user the advantage of data logging.
     
  2. Monitoring Display Unit: The information from one or multiple inverters are combined and displayed in the display unit. The information is gathered through CAT5 cable or bluetooth units. Such systems are also called as wireless energy monitoring systems. The dedicated display item is an additional cost but it gives the system owner the option monitor the system through a display.
     
  3. Internet Based Monitoring: The energy output data is transferred to a router, thus making it available on the internet. Every user has a dedicated password protected website. The main advantage of internet based monitoring is that the information is readily available and logged at a remote location. The router and the card that plugs into the inverter are the additional costs of this system. This type of third party monitoring may be required for production based incentives.
     
Solar PV Systems Monitoring
Inverter Brand (website)   Direct PC Connection Home Display Unit Internet based monitoring 3rd Party Monitoring System
Enphase Energy  

Enphase Energy

N/A N/A

Enphase Envoy 
(enlighten website allows access to information)

N/A
Fronius

Fronius

N/A

Personal Display 
w/ (Plug-in card)

- Datalogger Web
- Datalogger EasyBox
- Datalogger ProBox

- Deck Monitoring

- FatSpaniel Monitoring

- Energy Recommerce

- Draker Laboratories Monitoring

PV Powered   with CAT5 N/A

- PVM1010
(mypvpowered.com)

SMA

- Piggy back card 
(bluetooh or cable connection)

Sunny Beam 
w/ (Piggy back card)

Sunny WebBox 
w/ (RS485 card)

Yaskawa Solectria

Yaskawa Solectria Solar

N/A - Personal Display 
w/ (Plug-in card)
- Solren View Web
Based Monitoring
Xantrex connects PC via cable Inverter Monitor Communication Gateway

Comments

This is great, I didn't know there was a solution for using the Deck monitoring system with Fronius inverters. Do you use RS 485 or 232 connection?

You can use the RS232 to connect to the Fronius Interface card to the Aquisuite.

SMA also provides a great web Portal interface that comes free when you use the Sunny WebBox product.  It can be used with all Sunny Boy SMA inverters.  You do need the SMA RS485 card for each inverter which connects directly to the WebBox.  Here is an image of the Portal interface for solar monitoring.

What is the range for the SMA Sunny Beam with Bluetooth? 

The SMA Sunny Beam with Bluetooth has a range of 100 meters and can monitor upto 12 inverters.   You can also buy a repeater to extend the range.

Another major reason to have a monitoring system is that in California in order to qualify for the California Solar Initiative (CSI) solar rebate, you need to have a performance monitoring reporting service (PMRS).  All of the solar monitoring sytems described in this article qualify as PMRS.   My belief is that going forward addition states will have the same requirement.

That's a great point that you've just made Stan. Thanks for the contribution. Both the PMRS and FIT (feed-in-tariff) mechanisms require monitoring.

There is also one more issue that I didn't mention in the aricle about is the Troubleshooting of Solar PV Systems. The more you can monitor your system, the more chances that you will be able to detect the problems in an array. Especially in large systems consisting of dozens of modules, it is wise to split the system into strings and monitor each string separately. This is one of the main advantages of the micro-inverters (such as Enphase) as their pv monitoring software enables the user to see the output data of individual modules.

how are db's measured is 44 like listening to tv? will i hear any noise inside my house  22 pannels are being installed?

I want a monitoring system that does not need to have a computer connected at the site of the PV system to the monitoring system.I've tried the Fronius system because my inverter is a Fronius, but in order to view the output from somewhere away from the PV array, I must have a computer hooked up to the data logger web box to send the info to the web, for me to download with another computer.I want a monitoring system that can plug into a router out to the internet that doesn't need a computer at the data logger before it can be out on the web.  Or so that I can monitor it without a cord between my computer and the data logger box.Does anyone have a something like this?

Joette,Which Fronius do you have? Most of the IG units can be monitored this way: http://www.civicsolar.com/node/26156

We have an IG 5100.We just had the Fronius Datalogger web installed today that your link references.  The problem is, the installer can't make it work without it being connected to a PC by ethernet before it can send a signal out to the web.  This defeats the purpose as far as I'm concerned.    I don't want to have to have a PC dedicated to it, or have a cord out from the data logger to my PC to check my output.I want it to be plugged into my router, which is connected to the modem, so I can access the info no matter where I am.  This way I can put it in the same place with all the other things connected to my wireless router (and the modem), and access the info off the web, or when I'm here, off the router it's self.We have an addition to our original Fronius solar array that is by Enphase (if they'd have had these panels with individual inverters back when we installed the original array, we'd have had them then also), and it has a very nice little box that sits out on the wall by the fuse panel, no PC, just sends out the signal to the web so I can pick it up anywhere.I want the Fronius one to do the same, or something that will.  I'm wondering if I couldn't get another Enphase moniterer, and just plug in my Fronius inverter to it by ethernet?  I know it wouldn't read each panel individually like this one does, but would it read them as a whole and give me the output?

This LAN stick accessory should connect to your router if you have a wireless router:http://www.civicsolar.com/node/24409No PC should be needed. 

My problem was that even plugged into the router, it wasn't going out to the web.  Not unless it was connected to my PC.  Your link to the better quick start instructions finally did it, and it only took me an hour, where-as the installer and myself had spent all day working on it, using the instructions that came with it.The installer wasn't "up" on these things, he does a different brand (the Enphase) so I sent him a copy of your instructions from your link to help him out if he ever has to retro install another Fronius for anyone ever again.

Ok, I'm following your instructions on your link above, but it's not getting to the DLW web server page, and it's going on 10 minutes.Sounds like from your instructions this data logger should do what I want, but not if it's not going to connect!Help!

SF Solar, thank you, thank you, thank you! 

I finally got it to work as it was advertised by following the link you gave to the quick start instructions.

If only they would put THOSE instructions in their box with the data logger, instead of the puny little three paragraphs they give you that don't explain much at all.  Making customers search online to find out how to get it to work as advertised isn't in their best interests.

Again, thanks, I really was ready to go unplug my Enphase panels and see what would happen if I plugged the Fronius inverter into the Enphase data logger!

Joette,That's good news. Yes, the inverter manufacturers are good at converting DC to AC, but they have a lot to learn about packaging it and making it easy to understand...

Well, I'm glad you took the time to put a link out there to a much better instructional guide.  I even downloaded a copy and sent it over to our installer so he would have it next time he had to install one of these things.  He'd have been done in a couple of hours from start to finish if he'd had them.I'll look you up next time I'm having problems with something I need to install!

I'm researching the solar monitoring options out there and must say this page has been very helpful. There is something I'm trying to figure out that I hope you'll be able to clarify - do these systems need to be revenue grade meters? I have heard about SRECs, but don't fully know how they work. I do know that at least in Massachusetts, and it would seem California, there are certain requirements for revenue grade meters for home solar systems to get SRECs. Do these all qualify?Also, does anyone know if/which of the inverter companies can monitor both power generation and home consumption?Thanks a lot,Yoel