phone with solar panels

Solar Monitoring System: Should you get one?

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Do you have solar panels? Could you tell right now how well they were performing? If the answers are yes and no respectively, then you might need a solar monitoring system.

The nature of a solar panel is to sit on a roof and generate solar energy. And while this is great for maximising a solar panel’s energy output, there’s just one small problem with installing panels on a rooftop; it makes it near impossible to know if the system is working properly.

Now there’s two simple solutions to this problem; wait until you get your next energy bill to see if it is significantly higher than usual, or you could install a solar monitoring system and keep track of its performance.

But where do you even get a solar monitoring system and is it worth the cost? This Canstar Blue guide has compiled all the information you need to know.

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What is a solar panel monitoring system?

A solar monitoring system provides real-time information on your home solar system. A good monitoring system can tell you how each of the individual panels are functioning and whether one or more isn’t producing as much energy as the others. This could be useful to indicate whether there’s been an electrical fault that may be causing you to miss out on energy generation.

Solar monitors can be used to track performance over time, assist in troubleshooting various problems and track your solar investment’s financial performance.

How does a solar monitor work? phone with solar monitoring system

Solar monitoring systems measure the performance of solar panels and reports real-time data to help keep track of any changes and alert home or business owners to any potential issues with their solar system. The monitoring system will measure energy consumption, solar electricity production, grid imports and exports, and, if you also have a solar battery installed, its available charge and discharge power.

Some monitoring systems may even be able to tell you if a single micro-inverter fails or compare solar feed-in tariffs and alert you if there is a better option available. This information can be accessed using your computer, tablet or phone depending on whether the monitoring system uses online software or an app.

Features that may be accessible through your monitoring app or online software include:

  • Solar system performance
  • Household energy usage
  • The amount of electricity that has been bought and sold
  • Time stamps of when your system was loading energy
  • Comparison of how much energy should be produced and how much is actually being produced on any given day
  • Alerts and fault diagnostics

This information is designed to help customers make changes accordingly, whether it’s to get something fixed in a timely manner or change their usage to make better use of the energy generated by your system. A good system will also be able to tell you what your standby energy usage rate is, so you can identify how much power is being used and take steps to decrease this.

How much does solar monitoring cost?

Costs involved with a solar monitoring system include installation fees and an ongoing subscription cost. Out-of-pocket installation fees can range from $250 – $750 while subscription fees are generally $60 – $120 per year, or you can pay for a lifetime subscription, depending on the company you source your monitor software from.

However, if the software alerts you to issues that would otherwise go unnoticed, it could pay for itself many times over.

Benefits of solar monitoring systems

The main benefits to installing a solar monitoring system include:

  • Immediate knowledge of any issues: Rather than waiting for your next bill to tell you that there may be something wrong, a solar monitoring system can immediately alert you if there is an issue which means that you can have it fixed promptly.
  • Understand any fluctuations in your energy bill: If your most recent bill is significantly higher than anticipated, a solar monitoring system will be able to help you understand where the increase came from, whether the performance of your panels decreased, the household is consuming more energy, you’ve changes tariffs or if there might have been a billing error.
  • Energy consumption insights: By using a monitoring system, you’ll be able to see your own energy consumption. This gives you the opportunity to change habits as needed to best utilise the energy being produced on your own roof, which may in turn, help to reduce electricity bills.

Compare Solar Plans & Prices

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Ausgrid network in Sydney but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 3911kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Citipower network in Melbourne but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4000kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on the Energex network in Brisbane but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4613kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Here are some of the cheapest solar-specific deals from the retailers on our database. These costs are based on SA Power network in Adelaide but prices will vary depending on your circumstances. We show one product per retailer, listed in order of lowest price first. Annual price estimates assume general energy usage of 4011kWh/year for a residential customer on a single rate tariff. Price estimates exclude solar feed-in tariff credits. These are products from referral partners†. Our database may not cover all deals in your area, and please check retailer websites for up to date information.

Are all solar monitoring systems the same?

Like everything, there are some solar monitoring companies that are better than others. For example, it is generally recommended to get a solar monitoring system from a company that specialises in that software, as opposed to just purchasing one from a solar panel manufacturer.

There are three main types of solar monitoring systems:

  1. Solar monitoring from equipment manufacturers
  2. Solar monitoring from your installer
  3. Standalone home energy monitors

Some companies offer monitoring systems with their solar inverter sales, particularly for micro inverters, but, as mentioned above, it is generally recommended to go with a standalone home energy monitor from a company that specialises in software development. If your manufacturer happens to do both, then it is a win-win.

Should I get a solar monitoring system? solar monitoring systems

Whether you get a solar monitoring system installer or not will depend entirely on your energy needs and budget. A good way to think about it is that it’s essentially insurance on your solar panels. The system alerts you if there are any issues, and allows you to track performance and your own energy usage – helping to decrease energy bills and keep your solar panels performing as they should.

That’s not to say that you can’t achieve these things without the assistance of a monitoring system, but it does provide just that little bit of extra security when it comes to the performance of your solar panel system.

If you haven’t already had solar panels installed but are keen to learn a little more about them, including the financial benefits and options available to you in Australia, then be sure to head to our guide below.

Learn more about solar power systems

Image credits: Kampan/Shutterstock.com, petovaga/Shutterstock.com, RossHelen/Shutterstock.com

Kelseigh Wrigley
Energy Specialist
Kelseigh Wrigley was a content producer at Canstar Blue for three years until 2024, most recently as an Energy Specialist. She holds a Bachelor of Journalism from the Queensland University of Technology.

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