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Monitoring - keeping an eye on your renewable energy installation
Why would I want to do this?
A dedicated Total Generation Meter (TGM) is used to accurately record the output from your system so you can be paid for the electricity you produce. It is similar to your consumption meter, but records the energy your system produces rather than consumes. Often the TGM is near your consumption meter and mains distribution board, but may be remote and not easily accessible. You also have to be quite motivated to record the information frequently....
Most inverters can collect and display basic information such as total energy produced, current power output and errors on a built in LCD display. Unfortunately, if your inverter is in a loft, or at the end of your garden it’s unlikely you’ll be rushing to looking at it often. Again, you have to remember to go and record the information manually.
Many inverters can have a wireless transmitter module fitted. A remote wireless display unit can store and show the data where desired. This is much better as you can keep an eye on it easily.
It’s often possible to connect an inverter directly to a PC, via an interface and cabling, or wirelessly, but the PC may need to be left on to capture the data. The data can be analysed locally or uploaded to a website. Some wireless displays, such as Sunny Beam Bluetooth can download the stored data via USB cable, often in csv (Excel) format.
The major inverter manufacturers provide dedicated (and expensive) data loggers such as SMA Sunny Webbox or Fronius Datalogger Web for storing and uploading data to their proprietary websites such as SMA Sunny Portal or Fronius Solar.web