Do You Need Wi-Fi For Solar Panels?

Solar power systems can be easily monitored and programmed via remote handheld devices such as smartphones or tablets. The connectivity between the solar system and the handheld device will require a suitable Wi-Fi connection.

You do not need Wi-Fi to have solar panels. Your solar system will display some key parameters on the charge controller or inverter charger to indicate the system performance. Modern inverters or charge controllers interface with phone applications via Wi-Fi to display and even program settings.

The first solar panels appeared in the 1950s, and although they were still relatively inefficient and costly, they could generate energy from the photovoltaic effect. Your solar panel array and supporting power system can provide free clean energy without needing Wi-Fi.

The inverter or solar charger with a smartphone link via Wi-Fi can allow you to monitor and even adjust some key parameters:

  • Power (Watts) generated by the solar panel array
  • Individual solar panel power generation
  • Battery state of charge (% SOC)
  • Input Voltage (V) and Current (A) strength
  • Battery charge voltage

Wi-Fi connectivity between the major components of solar power systems has made the monitoring and programming of critical parameters more effortless and user-friendly. Monitoring and controlling your inverter or charge controller via remote connectivity has enabled modern systems to be safer and more efficient.

Man Hands On Electronic Tablet Controlling Solar Panel With An App Blue Screen With Statistics And Graph Of The Energy Production Consumption - Sol Voltaics: Solar Panel Information
Man Hands On Electronic Tablet Controlling Solar Panel With An App Blue Screen With Statistics And Graph Of The Energy Production Consumption

Types Of Solar Inverters Where Wi-Fi Is Needed

Inverters are most likely the critical component of your solar installation as they can inform you of the solar efficiency of each solar panel in the entire installation.

In addition, they can provide information on the battery bank state of charge or how much power is going to the utility grid, all via a Wi-Fi-linked application on your phone.

Do not underinvest when buying an inverter. You can always buy more solar panels or batteries for your power bank, but the inverter is key to making your entire system work efficiently.

There are three types of inverters commonly used in domestic solar installations:

  1. String inverters
  2. Micro inverters
  3. Hybrid inverters with microcontrollers

String Inverters

String inverters are the oldest and the most proven types of inverters. They are ideally used on solar arrays that are large and uncomplicated in design. The array does not have any areas that will be in shadow during the optimal solar production hours.

The string inverter has an easy task as all the solar panels in the array are exposed to the same quality of solar radiation during the day and will have no factors inhibiting the array’s power production performance.

You do not need to monitor the individual solar panel performance via the monitoring applications that link the inverter to your smartphone. The solar array production can be viewed as a whole on the digital display on the inverter.

Micro Inverters

Micro inverters are made to fit each solar panel on the array. They will convert the DC generated by the solar to AC and route the power to a central combiner panel individually.

The monitoring software will allow you to see the performance of individual solar panels and indicate this may be generating below optimum due to the angle of installation on the complex roof or due to shade caused by a chimney or tree branch.

Solar panels that are wired in series have the disadvantage that when one panel is partly shaded, the performance of the entire array is limited. Micro-inverters will negate this disadvantage and ensure that the whole system runs at the optimal efficiency of the unshaded solar panels.

Having the ability to monitor the performance of individual panels during the hours of optimal solar production will enable you to fine-tune the placement of panels that are not ideally located. A Wi-Fi connection between the microinverters and the monitoring software on your handheld device makes the monitoring easy to do.

Micro inverters are significantly more expensive than string inverters. Still, they are part of the price you will have to pay to manage complex solar panel deployment due to the complex geometry of the roof design.

Engineer Testing A Solar Inverter
Engineer Testing A Solar Inverter

Hybrid Inverters

Less expensive than micro inverters but still more expensive than string inverters are hybrid inverters with individual panel controllers. The hybrid inverter and panel controllers are a mixture of string and micro-inverters but are worth mentioning.

Each solar panel is connected to a controller unit that will measure each panel’s solar power generation performance but will not convert the DC to AC as with the microinverter.

All the control units are connected to the central hybrid inverter, where the combined DC is converted to AC, and the performance of individual panels is possible. This hybrid inverter can also communicate to a handheld device via Wi-Fi.

You do not need to have Wi-Fi to monitor your system’s performance. Still, it does add a level of convenience to be able to monitor your system remotely and switch things off or adjust settings remotely.

These changes can be done via the control panel user interface on the inverter or charge controller connected to the solar panel array.

Wi-Fi Connectivity To Your Solar System Components

Most modern solar components like inverters, charge controllers, and shunts can communicate via a Wi-Fi network to your laptop and mobile devices. The monitoring software is manufacturer specific and can be downloaded for free.

Once a Wi-Fi connection is established between the solar system component and your remote device, the user-friendly interface will show you the key performance indicators of the solar system and allow you to program some key parameters.

Having such an intelligent interface via a Wi-Fi connection will allow third parties to access your system with your approval. It will enable them to view how the system is performing and make some corrections if needed.

Some inverter companies use remote connectivity to monitor the performance of their devices and ship you with a replacement device if they observe a problem with their product. We can all do with a user-friendly warranty claim process.

Solar systems are not complex and, when properly installed by professionals, monitored, and maintained, will provide you with worry-free energy for about thirty years. Systems that are well maintained and run within the design parameters can even last much longer.

General Solar Panel FAQ

What Problems Do Solar Panels Solve?

In environmental terms, solar panels can potentially solve a handful of problems, including;
1. Air pollution
2. Water pollution
3. Greenhouse gases
4. Reduction in fossil fuel use

For individuals, solar energy allows you to become completely self-sufficient when it comes to your electricity needs and can save you a lot of money in the long run.

What Are 3 Important Uses Of Solar Panels?

The three most important uses of solar panels are;
1. Solar electricity. This can be used to power almost any appliance in your home, including TVs, computers, and fridges.
2. Lighting. In addition to the use of low-power, LED lightbulbs, solar panels can provide an efficient, low-cost, and environmentally friendly way to provide lighting to homes. 
3. Portable solar. In our modern, always-connected lives, our phones, tablets, and computers are almost always with us, and all run on batteries. Portable PV chargers can help keep our batteries topped up no matter where we are, as long as there is some sun to charge them.

Do solar panels give you free electricity?

Once the cost of the array is paid in full, the energy it produces is free. There are ongoing maintenance costs, too, such as annual panel cleaning, etc. 

How much will my electric bill be with solar panels?

Suppose your solar array includes a solar battery backup system, and it is large enough to fully cover your energy usage per day. In that case, your monthly electric bill will be next to zero dollars, even with a grid-tied system. 

If your solar array does not include a solar battery backup system, then at night, your house or business will use grid electricity. That cost will vary but expect to pay from 1/3-2/3 of your average electric bill, and that cost will fluctuate seasonally. 

Do you save money with solar panels?

The simple answer is, Yes, you save money with solar panels. There is an initial upfront cost, but since solar panels are warrantied for 25 years, you will save money over time. You will also begin to see monthly savings in energy bills, but there are other ways that solar panels pay you back. Those include:
1. Adding value to your home or commercial building 
2. Monthly decreases in energy costs
3. The ability to add more energy appliances without increased monthly costs
4. The potential for tax credits for going solar

Can solar panels power a house 24-7?

Most definitely! Solar panels can certainly power a house 24-7, with the addition of a high-quality inverter and a suitable battery bank, of course. To power, a house under normal usage will require a massive solar array, though, and there will be a very expensive initial financial outlay.

Do I need to tell my energy supplier I have solar panels?

This depends on where you live, but in most cases, it’s not necessary to inform your energy supplier that you have solar panels. That said, you may be producing excess power with your solar system, in which case you may be able to sell that excess power back to energy companies.

In this case, you’ll naturally need to be in contact with them. 

What Are Solar Cells Known as and Why?

Solar cells are also called photovoltaic (PV) cells. They are called so because the term ‘photovoltaic’ literally means light i.e. photo and electricity i.e. voltaic.

These cells generate electricity through the photovoltaic effect. This effect basically causes the generation of free electrons from the semiconducting silicon material of the solar panel when sunlight hits its surface.

What Type of Solar Panels Are Most Efficient and Why?

There are currently three types of solar panels available in the market that are:
1. Monocrystalline
2. Polycrystalline
3. Thin-filmed

Among these, monocrystalline solar panels are known to be the most efficient among all others.

Does heat enter your home through the roof?

Absolutely. Heat enters your home through your roof, and on a hot day your attic can get up to 150 degrees Fahrenheit or more. Through conduction, heat from the sun warms your roof which then warms your attic and the rest of your home.

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