Wholesale PV Meter
A PV meter, also known as a solar meter, is a device that is used to measure the kWh production from a PV system. To be more specific, solar meters collect the PV yield production and local energy consumption to monitor and analyze PV plant performance. Solar meters usually come with a monitoring function to alert the owners of the PV system of issues with the PV system performance, letting them quickly resolve issues and maximize the return of investment. PV system data is transferred to a monitoring platform that provides a concise presentation of PV yields, monetary savings, and system performance.
Solar meters, which do the measuring, can be internal or external to the inverter. All inverters include an internal meter, but oftentimes, these meters are not revenue grade. External meters can be installed along the AC line between the inverter and the main distribution panel. This allows one meter to measure the output from multiple inverters, which can create significant cost savings as well as a collection of more precise PV yield data if the meter is revenue grade. Moreover, a few solar meters can connect directly to the inverter through an RS485 or Ethernet cable, providing additional data for system monitoring and diagnostics.
How Does a Meter for Solar Work?
In order to measure electrical power (kW) — the rate of production — two aspects must be measure: current and voltage. The current represents the amount of electricity (electrons) flowing through a conductor. Meanwhile, the voltage represents the pressure pushing the electricity through the conductor.
The current is usually measured by sensing the strength of the magnetic field produced when electricity flows through a conductor. A current sensor installed around a conductor is the current transformer (CT). The voltage is measured directly by the meter via two or more connections to the electrical service. The meter multiplies the current by the voltage to calculate apparent power (VA) and compares the current and voltage signals to calculate the power factor (Pf). The apparent power is multiplied by the power factor to calculate real power (P). Real power is then integrated over time to calculate real energy (kWh).
What Are the Different Types of PV Meters?
Net meters show the net consumption of power in the household. A net meter does not show how much solar electricity is pushed out to the grid or how much “regular” electricity is taken in from the grid. It merely indicates the difference between the two — or the “net usage.” One fact about the net meter that everyone needs to be aware of is that the net meter actually runs backward if the system is producing more solar energy than the owner of the system is using at that point in time.
Bi-directional meters have three display screens. One is a test screen where all lights are on. The second screen shows power coming in from the grid, and the third shows power going out from the solar system into the grid.
In a dual metering situation, there are two separate meters that do not communicate. The original utility meter continues to show how much electricity is being taken from the utility. This is called the usage meter. A new, second meter measures how much solar electricity is sent to the utility. This is called a production meter or a generation meter. Both meters are tied to the electric company account of the owner of the system.
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