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

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As a Solar Analytics energy management 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 performance monitoring. So how does this work, exactly?

Fault notifications for solar power systems

What is Performance Monitoring?

Our term ‘Performance Monitoring’ means that we are constantly assessing how your site is performing. We use our own patented sophisticated algorithms to monitor that your solar energy is being produced as we expect it to be. This performance monitoring status is displayed on the Performance page of your Solar Analytics energy management dashboard, delivered to you by email in your Monthly Report and if there is an issue, you are notified by email and on your dashboard.

Solar Analtyics' performance monitoring 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 performance 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. We also assess the longevity of the performance issue.

2. What service Solar Analytics provides

If a performance issue is unresolved, you and your solar retailer are notified and an action is suggested to resolve the issue.

3. What your Solar Analytics dashboard shows

You and your solar retailer are able to see that an issue has occurred on your dashboard. If there is a significant weather event, keep an eye on the performance status to determine whether the issue is resolved once the event passes.

 

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 notification for the solar owner and their solar retailer. 

The solar retailer would check the output of the system, and note the drops in production 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 solar retailer 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 Support Team and get the low-down on how their system is operating.

This is the level of sophistication that you can expect from Solar Analytics - powerful energery management software that 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 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 Engineer, Solar Analytics