Consumption Monitoring: An Industry Game Changer

“What I really like about consumption monitoring is that I can check my SunPower portal on my phone and see when my electric dryer is being used! I have full control of my electricity. The power is in the palm of my hands!”

– Brad Stoler; SunPower customer & Rayah Solar Employee.

Screen Shot 2017-08-31 at 12.49.37 PMThe SunPower PVS-5 monitoring system allows you to monitor your solar production, energy consumption, and net difference. This feature sets SunPower apart from the competition. All SunPower Equinox solar systems installed by Rayah Solar, come standard with consumption monitoring.  This tiny device, hidden and integrated into your solar system, allows you to monitor your home power usage every minute of every day.  That means you will know both how much power your home is consuming and how much power your SunPower Equinox System is producing; day to day, month to month for the lifetime of your solar system. In this article, I will discuss what consumption monitoring is, how it works, and it’s purpose.

Solar panel monitoring is a common feature with almost all solar systems. This helps keep track of how much power your solar system is producing.  In recent years, this is done in a way that is visually appealing and easy to understand, with detailed charts and graphs. However, this has traditionally been limited to production monitoring only.  If you wanted to know whether you produced more solar power than you used that month, you had to wait until your electric bill came in and then compare it to your production monitoring. If you had a negative bill, then you overproduced that month. If you had a positive bill, then you know you produced less solar power than you used.  And if you really wanted to get precise, you could subtract the kWh on your electric bill from your solar production to see how much power you actually used.  Ugh! That’s a lot of work.

Consumption monitoring has changed the landscape of solar monitoring and moved us one step closer to Smart Homes.  Think of a car. It’s good to have a car to take you places, but imagine that car without an essential feature, the fuel gauge.  Without a fuel gauge, you would not know how close you were to empty. Many drivers would probably spend most of their time driving in fear – “oh no, I might run out of gas!”

Consumption monitoring is like that fuel gauge. It gives you true insight into what is happening with your home.  In a nutshell, here’s how it works: during your solar installation, we install a pair of consumption Current Transformers  (CT) inside of your main service panel (these are tiny devices that you can’t see from the outside).  This allows SunPower to connect to your electrical supply to monitor what’s being used every time your AC kicks on or when you are cooking on your electric stove, doing a load with your electric dryer, plug in your EV car, or even flip a light switch at night.

Are you producing more or less power than you are using?  That’s the bottom line of dollars and cents for most homeowners  We call that the net difference. Essentially, how many kWh did you deposit into your solar electric bank account – in other words, how much money are you saving.  The below screenshot captures one of our customer’s solar savings information at a glance.  This customer can clearly see a lifetime overproduction of 138% or 5,473 kWh deposited into the grid. That’s a saving of $2,490!  This dynamic information would not be available with typical solar monitoring.

Screen Shot 2017-08-28 at 2.34.05 PMBest of all,  SunPower has managed to put all this useful information in a user-friendly, easy to navigate format that is accessible via your phone, tablet or computer. You can view your solar production and household power consumption in real time. You can view production and consumption down to the minute, or by day, week, month, year and even the lifetime of your solar system. For each segment, it gives you a simple display saying how much power you used during that time versus your solar production. It tells you if you were net positive or negative, and the exact dollar amount.

  It’s really easy to view your system on a minute to minute basis using our monitoring system. I like to turn it into a game and watch the green line of production move above the blue line of consumption!”          

– Isaac Opalinsky SunPower Corp employee and customer.

Here is an example of what a solar energy graph in SunPower’s monitoring portal looks like with consumption and production monitoring (please refer to the image on the leftScreen Shot 2017-08-30 at 7.31.51 PM). The green bars (solar generated) on the graph shows how much energy this system is producing and the blue bars (household use) display how much energy this home is using each day.  Notice the blue spike in the morning? That must be when this customer woke up and was getting ready for the day. As a certified SunPower dealer, we install fully integrated solar systems that give our customers the total package:  a beautifully designed system with top-rated panels and the ability to monitor system production and home energy consumption on all mobile and computer platforms.

Give us a call today at (617) 564-3159 or visit us on the web at to start your process with going solar.



Article Written By Doretta J. – Project Management – Rayah Solar

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