The Value of Energy Consumption Monitoring

12/5/2018

A solar system is usually one of the biggest investments in a homeowner‘s life, after house and car, but yet many systems are not monitored.

the value of energy consumption monitoring

With the rise of smartphones and mobile apps, we started to monitor and keep track of many aspects of our lives. Many people start their day with looking at the weather forecast, because one wants to be prepared and pro-active in their choice of what to wear. Everyone who is invested in stocks, will probably track the stock market to see what the return on investemnt is. A step counting app helps us keeping track of physical activity. Car drivers track mileage to keep fuel/energy consumption under control. And some people might even track their sleep patterns, making sure the body runs at top performance during the day.

PV Monitoring

That's a lot of monitoring. But how about solar systems? A solar system is usually one of the biggest investments in many customer‘s lives, after house and car, but yet many systems are not monitored. This means that system owners are left in the dark on how their solar investment performs. Often times they find out about an issue when they find a high utility bill in their mailbox, months after the system stopped performing. This is not a good experience for solar customers.  

As an industry, we must aim for having every system monitored online, so we can service pro-actively, track return on investments and overall performance, just like in other areas of life. However, standard solar monitoring does not provide a holistic view on one's electricity needs and is - to be honest - quite boring. Adding more granular solar data, such as module level data, might be appealing for "techy" customers, but does not add more meaning to the monitoring. Most importantly, it does not help improve the overall energy efficiency of a home, nor to decrease the utility bill further.  

Know your Energy Consumption

With markets shifting towards self-consumption (using as much solar energy in your home as opposed to exporting into the grid), it is becoming more crucial to know what the actual electricty consumption looks like and to contrast that with the production of the solar system. New net-metering policies and feed-in limitations will only accelerate this trend.   You might have heard of the so-called Prius Effect, a phenomenon based on the Toyota Prius' real-time feedback on gasoline consumption provided on the dashboard. In many cases, this real time feedback leads to immediate changes of driving behavior - resulting in even higher fuel efficiency. As the saying goes, you can only manage what you can measure!  

Looking at the electricity consumption in your home, the feedback and measurement that a utility bill provides is not exactly real time and usually not easy to undestand. It does actually not provide any insight on your energy efficiency. In contrast, an online monitoring system that combines solar production and real time energy consumption data including analytics, can provide exactly that feedback. By doing so, solar monitoring becomes meaningful and creates real value for the system owner: real-time feedback, insights to take targeted measures towards higher energy efficiency, data for tailor-fit storage and more.  

Furthermore, for the solar installer, this data builds the foundation for future energy efficiency measures, new lighting, more efficient HVAC, smart thermostats, home automation, or battery storage. This enables tailor-fit solutions, based on real data, as opposed to one-size-fits-all solutions that might be ineffective for the specific needs of a customer. By doing so, the solar installer evolves to the home owner's energy consultant - making a solar sale the start of a relationship, not just the closing of a sale.  

The Fronius Way

Fronius can show you how to easily add energy consumption capabilities to a solar system. Introducing the Fronius Smart Meter, a bi-directional energy meter. Together with FroniusSolar.web, the Fronius Smart Meter offers a detailed overview of energy consumption within a home or business. The Fronius Smart Meter is compatible with the Fronius Galvo, Fronius Primo and Fronius Symo.