If your inverter and data logger are from the same manufacturer, this article is a must read….

Solar Service Guys are inspecting over 500 solar systems every week, ranging from residential rooftops to large-scale solar systems installed at commercial & industrial (C&I) facilities.

One of the most common findings in our assessment of these commercial & industrial solar systems is the reliance on inverter-based monitoring as the only source of truth in recording and reporting system performance.

For most inverters, OEMs* now provide access to the in-built data logger which is packaged as a ‘monitoring product’. Whilst this is correct, and the data loggers can provide insight, there are a few reasons why this may not be the ideal solution in providing detailed insights into the performance of your plant and providing monitoring services.

As a case study, we recently conducted a site visit for a large-scale commercial customer. The customer had over 5MW of solar PV system which was between 2-5 years old, spread across a site which consisted of multiple buildings across an area of several hectares.

We were engaged to conduct annual maintenance and cleaning service for their solar portfolio. Our annual inspections identified numerous faults at the time of inspections, which could have been identified earlier with better monitoring.

Solar Systems Monitoring

Naturally, we accessed the data loggers connected to the inverters, and noted numerous abnormalities which the owner wasn’t aware about such as communication faults, inverters not communicating with the data loggers, faults affecting operation of an equipment over 90 days old, and even a few inverters which had never been activated on OEM’s monitoring portal since installation.

Once we accessed the OEM’s monitoring portal containing all the inverters, we conducted a detailed forensic assessment of historical data, and had to report to the owner that we estimated Revenue Losses of $98,000 for the last 12 months across their solar portfolio!!

In order to minimise these financial losses for our client, we proposed an overhaul of their monitoring system, which included an Active Monitoring Service.

Whilst it’s important to work with platforms which specialise in the aggregation of performance data, and the reporting of events to its owner stakeholders, it’s also important that this data is overseen by specialists who understand the nuances of components (such as inverters, panels and optimizers) and how they can affect performance.

Many EPC* companies undersell what is ’monitoring’, and simply offer their clients access to inverter data and further support this with an annual inspection. Some providers offer the next level, being a ‘reactive maintenance’ service – but this is reliant on determining what constitutes a fault, and whose liability they are protecting.

We believe that an Active Monitoring Response as opposed to a Reactive Response is more effective, as it ensures issues are reported in real-time once they occur so that rectifications can occur in a timely manner to avoid revenue losses. Reactive Response means issues are only fixed when they are physically identified and reported onsite, which can result in a constant and never ending ‘chasing-your-tail’.

If you are interested in having more detailed transparency of data from your solar system, and have it managed by professionals dedicated to monitoring your plants. Get in touch!
We are technically independent service providers assessing hundreds of solar systems every week, and are dedicated to the Safety, Maintenance & Performance of every Solar System.

For more information about our Active Monitoring services, please contact monitoring@solarserviceguys.com.au

*OEM – Original Equipment Manufacturer
*EPC – Engineering, Procurement and Construction