Monitoring a solar system is a great idea, in fact it really is essential if you really want to save money.
It provides all the benefits of a dashboard in your car - it can provide warnings of faults, tell you how it’s performing and can be a powerful diagnostic tool for your solar “mechanic” over the life of the system.
However, to really leverage your savings and understand the whole story, you also need to know how much energy you are using. Could you use more of your low-cost solar energy by shifting your usage to your solar production hours? (Or use less if you have a very high solar feed-in tariff?) What is using most of the energy in your home and can you do something about it?
An increasing number of solar owners are understanding the value of both energy usage and solar production monitoring which is reflected in its growing popularity.
Basic energy monitoring will show you the total of everything that is being consumed in the home. Solar Analytics has been hugely successful at going one step better by monitoring not just solar production and energy usage but also the energy used on individual sub-circuits.
Most homes have several major energy loads that are the key places to focus on for savings or trouble shooting, such as air conditioning, electric hot water and pool pumps. One of our team currently monitors nine sub-circuits in his home providing an incredible amount of information and the ability to easily understand what’s using energy.
Now, Nige is clearly a bit of an energy nerd. However, he also has a busy family and work life, and recently admitted, “I just don’t have the time to look at my Solar Analytics Dashboard all the time. But I do make it a priority to check it every now and again, especially when my energy bill arrives.”
Recently, Nige took a look at his Dashboard after getting a new electric cook top installed. “I was interested to see if it had helped us reduce energy consumption from cooking because we are an all-electric household. But while looking at the cook top usage, I also noticed something odd with my hot water usage.”
Nige knows his electric hot water system is the biggest consumer of energy in the home. He has taken some action to reduce their family’s hot water usage but it remains a major part of their electricity bill.
By scrolling back through time on his Solar Analytics Dashboard, Nige could easily see that the hot water system was using far more energy than it used too, and more importantly, it seemed to be regularly switching on and off overnight (see the dark red area below):
A quick look down the side of the house revealed the problem – the tank was leaking! Hot water was leaking from one of the pipe connections which was causing the tank to regularly top itself up (with cold water), then reheat it. This cycle would then repeat over and over again!
With a replacement tank fitted, the difference was profound, with the hot water tank heating when as expected:
This is a classic example of the benefit of sub circuit monitoring. Being able to see energy usage in finer detail allows energy users to keep an eye out for changes and pick them up before they cost money.
Monitoring the whole home is a great start, but by monitoring individual sub circuits, Solar Analytics customers have been able to detect leaking hot water systems, faulty fridge thermostats, incorrect pool pump timer settings and in one case we even helped to identify a highly dangerous faulty switch that could have caused a house fire.
We encourage you to check in on your Solar Analytics Dashboard when time permits, head to the Consumption page to see your daily energy usage and check for any anomalies in your usual usage.