Purchasing solar is already confusing enough deciding on which brands of solar panels and inverter to select. Throw the inclusion of a smart meter into the mix on selected systems, and the question of “do I need a Solar Smart Meter?” arises. Most companies won’t tell you that 80% of consumers need more than solar panels and an inverter to reduce power bills, and the answer isn’t a battery. Consider a solar smart meter the missing link.
By understanding/visualising energy consumption in line with solar energy production, end-users have a far greater chance of achieving bill reduction success than viewing solar production alone.
In the past, most of us understand energy consumption in the form of a bi-monthly bill cycle. With such a large gap between bill cycles, energy-saving opportunities can easily get lost in between.
A solar smart meter delivers ultra-refined energy consumption and export data in real-time for end-users to make the informed decisions to manage a power supply toward bill reduction success daily.
What is a Smart Meter?
Firstly, the solar smart meter is not related to the electricity supply smart meter. A solar smart meter is an additional device that connects to the switchboard and monitors the flow of electricity in and out of the premises. Much like the electricity supply meter. The difference is with a solar smart meter, access to real-time energy consumption information is available within the solar monitoring portal.
Solar With or Without a Smart Meter?
Once a solar energy system has been installed, there is vastly different information provided to end-users when comparing a monitoring platform with a smart meter and one without.
WithA Solar Smart Meter
- Real-time solar energy production.
- Historical production data.
- Service messages
- System fault alerts.
- Real-time grid energy consumption.
- Historical consumption data.
- Excess solar export data.
- Beneficial financial analysis.
- Battery charge & discharge control.*
WithoutA Solar Smart Meter
- Real-time solar energy production.
- Historical production data.
- Service messages.
- System fault alerts.
Imagine purchasing a new solar energy system you’ve invested time to ensure the best supplier and products, only to find that upon installation, you log in to your new energy monitoring portal to discover that only half the information is existent or accurate?
Your experience with the “WiFi” monitoring portal is quite underwhelming. The missing and often most beneficial data is required to be completed by the solar energy systems smart meter.
8 Reasons You Need a Smart Meter.
Still not convinced by the above side by side comparison into how powerful such a small device can genuinely be? Below are 8 reasons PSW Tech support believes a solar smart meter is an essential component for every solar energy system owners desire to ensure bill reduction success.
Image: Fronius Solar.web portal solar production monitoring (Without energy consumption insight).
1. Energy consumption monitoring.
If it’s not apparent yet, a solar smart meter monitors consumption habits in line with solar production. With such visualisation, it’s possible to understand precisely how much energy is being consumed within premises beyond a solar energy systems capacity during the day.
With a better understanding of how much energy appliances draw singularly and combined, it’s easier to schedule selected operating times to ensure the suns energy gets maximised.
What’s even better is that when the sun has set, the solar smart meter continues to monitor energy consumption from the grid into the palm of your hand, advising of any energy-wasting appliances which could be operating needlessly in the background. Turn off. Money saved. You’re welcome!
2. Entire energy profiling.
Over time, end-users with a solar smart meter begin to understand their particular energy profile. Not just how solar works on both sunny and overcast days, but more so how appliances operate and consume power over time in different seasons.
With an in-depth knowledge of appliance operation 24-hrs a day, it becomes easier to make more intuitive decisions surrounding the premises energy supply.
Such could be saving further energy, consuming more available solar or expanding to accommodate better future needs such as a battery or electric vehicle.
3. Ultra-Refind Historical Analysis.
Understanding past energy consumption habits facilitates the opportunity to ensure educated changes in the future. Alterations to either operational habits or which physical appliances are connected to operate within the premises.
Reviewing the historical consumption data generated by a solar smart meter of a winter period, end-users can make educated decisions on how their air-conditioner may operate in winter temperature extremes combined with minimal sunlight hours. Through such visualisation and understanding, winter operating times of the air-conditioning system could be brought forward to better align with the sun. With the bulk of the heating occurring during the day, the air conditioners operation in less beneficial times is minimised to simply maintaining temperature.
Physical change requirements are often a little trickier to spot without a detailed historical analysis facilitated by the solar smart meter. An example is the use of a fridge/s. Fridges operate 24/7. A solar smart meter monitors this consumption as a constant load with characteristic peaks and troughs. Once A fridges efficiency is compromised, the data begins to distort uncharacteristically. By analysing such, it’s possible to understand the appliance requires attention before wasting money on lost energy.
4. Reduced future battery costs.
Batteries aren’t cheap. The general cost of most solar batteries on the market today is approximately $1000 per/kWh installed. Precise consumption habits detected by a solar smart meter may suggest the requirement for a 10 kWh battery instead of a 15 kWh battery (that could be superfluous to one’s needs).
Based on the above values, a 10kWh battery costs approximately $10,000. Alternatively, a 15kWh battery would cost $15,000. Opting for a reduced capacity solar battery ensures a compounding saving in the upfront cost required to purchase a battery.
5. Appliance control.
This is where the future of solar is at! Yep, battery integration is only half the picture. Intelligent appliance control will transform everyone’s home, and there is only one way to do it. You guessed it, a solar smart meter.
Selected solar inverter manufacturers are working with certain appliance manufacturers to ensure a standard communications protocol for the intelligent operation of direct-connected appliances such as air-conditioners.
Why? Because certain appliances such as air conditioners and hot water systems can be considered a form of energy storage. Here’s how it works;
Beyond storage capacity or in the absence of a desirable feed-in tariff, excess solar energy can power the desired thermostat setting of an air conditioner. Operating an energy-intensive appliance such as an air conditioning system when the suns energy is available reduces the demand for increased grid consumption on-demand as the excess energy from the solar becomes stored in the form of heat energy.
Image: SMA’s InterSolar Award winning ennexOS energy control platform.
6. Future proof design.
Without a solar smart meter, solar system owners should consider a solar smart meter the next logical step towards implementing an energy-efficient home or business before any other alternative option.
Appliance alterations such as solar batteries, LED lights, energy-efficient appliances all do little if the energy consumption of the premises isn’t understood on a refined scale. Knowledge is power, and a solar smart meter ensures the data lies within the palm of your hand to make well-informed decisions.
7. Comprehensive monitoring portal.
Once obtaining access to the solar monitoring portal after installation, all fields and beneficial data will be accurate and complete with a solar smart meter.
Many end-users with a basic solar system (without and solar smart meter) are often left underwhelmed when logging into their monitoring portal to find the true power of the portal isn’t complete until the integration of a solar smart meter.
Image: Solar Analytics 3rd party solar smart meter portal with energy consumption overlay.
8. Greater Energy Saving Potential.
After all, that’s why you are investing in solar energy. Expedite energy-saving potential in any scenario with knowledge. Understanding an energy profile in detail surpasses any appliance to ensure the best return on investment while maximising one’s energy-saving potential.
Solar power and home battery technology are only ever part of a self-sufficient power supply solution as such devices possess limitations. Knowledge is the best way to manage a truly successful self-sufficient power supply. A solar smart meter alongside a solar energy system delivers precisely the amount of knowledge enriching data to harvest energy and consume it wisely.