Research Project Summary Information
Panel-Level Monitoring System for Solar Sites(ST10810)
Solar Sentry Corporation
The Contractor, Solar Sentry Corporation, has developed a unique monitoring technology for commercial solar electric installations to lower the cost/kWh of producing electricity and increase the overall system performance. The monitoring technology consists of “smart” solar panels and string combiners, applied together with internet data collection software, a combination intended to raise site output, shrink operating costs, cut installation labor time, and assure site quality. The technology examines the productivity of every solar panel individually, and aggregates panel level monitoring with inexpensive and standardized Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers' (IEEE) 802.15.4 wireless communications. The Contractor has a subscription monitoring service that complements the hardware by collecting data using secured internet communications, and analyzing each site daily to dispatch repair orders proactively. Its system monitors virtually every wiring connection in the system, and can pinpoint the nature and location of most operating problems.
The Contractor installed its system on a 50 kW PV system in Rochester, New York. During the project term, the Contractor developed a standard report format to report data and incidents to customers. The demonstration provided performance data for its system.
Potential benefits include hiring of additional staff at the Contractor’s facility. The technology itself will increase the production of electricity from renewable resources by allowing for improved output from photovoltaic (PV) panels.
The monitoring system identified a forgotten string interconnection during the construction of the PV array. Had the full array been constructed before the installer found the problem, then either the site would have been commissioned with 4% of the equipment being non-functional, or the site would have had to be partially dismantled and the interconnection fixed. Solar Sentry provided full monitoring of this site for more than two years and learned a great deal about fielded solar array performance. The demonstration proved that site performance information can be statistically analyzed to find panel under-performance issues effectively.
Solar Sentry Corporation
1 Grove St Ste 202
Pittsford, NY 14534
Energy Power Supply
NYSERDA Contact Information
R&D -Transport & Power Systems