Once you have a solar PV installation on your roof, you begin to look at electricity use in a whole new way. You and your family might play the solar savings game, where you see just how low your electric use can go, so you can feed it all back in to the grid and have a very small electric bill. (How small? It could be less than a Starbucks Venti Non-fat Latte!)
When solar and mobile technologies combine, you can even have fun with your solar array when you’re not home. You know, when you’re sitting in the coffee shop wondering if your solar panels are producing power and feeding it back in to the grid even while you’re away. Here’s a look at some of the smartphone and iPad/Android tablet apps that let you track your solar array’s performance from anywhere in the world.
SunPower Solar Monitoring – Available for Mac or Android, this user-friendly interface shows your solar array’s current production in watts, lifetime production in Kilowatt/hours, your total electric use and the net electricity produced for the day. (Negative means you’re using more than the array is producing for the day so far.) A bar graph lets you compare usage and production by the hour for a single day, or you can compare historical data for the month or the year. Reviewers at the iTunes store say the Web interface provides more information, but the app is handy.
SolarCity’s SolarGuard – SolarCity’s SolarGuard solar monitoring for iPhone/iPad or Android OS is the same as the Web-based interface. When you log in and download the app from the SolarCity website, you’ll have access to real-time monitoring of your solar system. Add the PowerGuide Home Energy Monitoring app, whether you have a solar array or not, and you can measure your home’s energy use by the hour.
SunEdison’s Home Connect Monitoring Systems – Powered by the SunEdison Energy & Environmental Data System (SEEDS), the Home Connect interface gives you full, Web-based access to data about your solar array’s production and your home’s energy use. For customer’s who want to go even deeper, the password-protected dashboard lets users see billing status and the environmental impact of their energy use and solar production, too.
Solar Monitoring Sound Too Cool to Resist?
If you’re a constantly connected techie-type (like me and Raina here at EcoOutfitters who are rarely spotted without our ‘Droid and iPad, respectively), you’ll want to make sure your solar installer of choice offers a remote solar monitoring apps or access to Web-based monitoring through your mobile device.
If you already have a solar PV array, your solar installer may be able to retrofit a solar monitoring system to your existing array so you, too, can get on-the-go data about your solar panels.
This is just a short list of some of the apps available through major solar installers. Click here to find a solar installer in your town to find out about others.