The Special Sauce at Solar Analytics - How Solar Fault Monitoring Works

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As a Solar Analytics user, you’ll know that your site is constantly being monitored for faults and you receive alerts and notifications when something is wrong or your system is under-performing. We call this active monitoring. So how does this work, exactly?

Fault notifications for solar power systems

What is Active Monitoring?

Our term ‘Active Monitoring’ means that we constantly attempt to understand how your site is performing. Our sophisticated algorithms and specialist operations team pour over our users’ energy data, checking that it is being produced (and monitored) as we expect it to be. By constantly ensuring that your power is being produced in-line with our expectations we can ensure that your system is operating correctly and that our monitoring systems are providing you with the most accurate and timely information available.

This active monitoring service can detect and identify many of the issues that occur within PV systems, such as string faults, inverter malfunctions, panel shading, and grid voltage issues. Alongside this we can also determine faults of a less physical nature, including communications errors and incorrect system configurations. We’ll explore an example of a site which is experiencing regular high grid voltage causing the inverter to shutdown as we explain how our active monitoring works in more depth.

 

How it works

1. What our algorithms do

Our algorithms explore the power output of your system, as well as the consumption of your home, in order to determine if the system is functioning correctly. If a problem is identified we first check to see if the issue is a technical one; this may involve automatic resolution of certain configuration issues. If this is not the case our Operations Team swings into action.

 

2. What our Operations Team does

Once our operations team is notified of an issue with a site, they use their deep knowledge of PV systems to exhaustively examine the site's configuration, context and energy readings. Based on this research they determine where the issue lies, and get in touch with the site owner in order to resolve the problem.

 

3. What the Solar Analytics dashboard does

The operations team is notified of an issue and at the same time, the site user is able to see that an issue has occurred on their dashboard. These recently updated notifications allow the user to better understand that their system is experiencing an issue, and lets them know that we are aware of it and working to fix it.

 

So how does that play out in real life?

Let’s take an example of a site with an over-voltage issue. Our algorithms would compare the output of the solar system to our calculated expectations, which we base on many inputs such as the panel tilt and orientation and the local weather. Since the inverter is regularly curtailing the output of the system (due to the high voltage), the system would not meet our expectations, and would be flagged as underperforming. This alert generates a support ticket for our operations team and a notification for the user dashboard.

Our Operations Team would check the output of the system, and note the drops in generation that are occuring. They would recognise the potential of the grid voltage to cause these, and compare the timing of the drops in output power to the local grid voltage. They would be able to see that when the grid voltage rises above a certain level the power output is dropping, and have confirmed the cause of the fault.

The Operations Team would then get in touch with the site user, informing them of the issue, and in this case letting them know that in order for this to be rectified, their local power authority must be notified to improve the capacity of local transformers. By rectifying this issue, the local community will benefit as there will very likely be more than one household solar array impacted by the high grid voltage.

From the Solar Analytics dashboard, the site user can determine whether the issue is ongoing or if it has been resolved. If they have any queries they can visit our self-help Support Page, which will assist them with understanding their data and the capabilities of the Solar Analytics service. They can also use our in-dashboard support contact system, allowing them to directly contact our Operations Team and get the low-down on how their system is operating.

This is the level of service you can expect with Solar Analytics - a powerful monitoring service which not only provides you with information on your solar production and energy consumption, but also lets you know if your system is performing as it should. Our intelligent algorithms and expert Support Team allow us to actively monitor your system, rigorously working to ensure that you are getting the most out of your solar.

Let us know if you have any questions about how Solar Analytics works. Head to the How It Works page to find out more.

By Jack Fletcher, Energy Analyst, Solar Analytics