How To Read Solar Panel Meter (Do This)

A solar energy system is made up of more than simply solar panels. Without other components, this system wouldn’t be able to offer you free power. A solar system’s meters, in particular, are frequently ignored.

Here’s What You’ll Be Learning:

  • What Solar Meters Are
  • How Solar Meters Work
  • How To Read Solar Meters
  • What Net Metering Is
  • Benefits of Solar Meters

We aim to give solar meters their due in this article and talk about how you can read them.

Solar Panel And Meter
Solar Panel And Meter

What Are Solar Meters?

Solar meters are your link to your solar investment. They can tell you how much power your system produces, how much energy you use, and how much energy you still have to buy from the utility.

A solar meter is basically a device that measures solar power or sunshine in W/m2 and may be used to check the effectiveness of windows or to install solar power equipment.

To monitor and assess PV plant performance, solar meters collect PV yield output and local energy usage. It frequently includes a monitoring feature that alerts plant owners to concerns with PV plant performance, allowing them to swiftly fix issues and optimize return on investment.

What is the Role Of Meters In Surplus Energy Production?

Energy is supplied to the grid in return for credits when solar panels create more electricity than is required. Then, when solar panels are underperforming at night or on cloudy days, electricity may be collected from the grid and utilized to offset the cost of that energy.

The data is supplied to a monitoring platform, which generates a clear picture of PV output, cost savings, and plant performance.

Where is a Solar Meter Used Commonly?

A solar power meter is most often used for a range of applications in which total energy, efficiency, and location of solar systems must be determined, such as:

  • Research into solar power
  • Recognizing high-potential possibilities
  • Laboratories in physics and optics
  • Assessment of solar radiation
  • Uses in agriculture
  • Applications for meteorology

How Does A Solar Meter Operate?

Conventional electricity meters can only detect energy flowing in one direction. To put it another way, from the grid to the house. Solar meters, on the other hand, are bi-directional, meaning they can also track how much power the home exports to the grid.

Solar energy systems often produce the most electricity in the afternoon. When many individuals aren’t at home or the lights aren’t turned on. Home power usage, on the other hand, is generally greater in the mornings and nights.

Solar energy meters can assist to keep an account for these fluctuations in power output and consumption on a daily basis.

How is Surplus Power Generation Related to Solar Meter?

When the solar meter generates more power than is required, the excess is sent into the electric utility’s grid. When this happens, the meter begins to run backward.

This switch between the system and the grid guarantees that surplus power is used and no shortages occur. The surplus power produced by solar meters covers the times when there isn’t enough produced.

How Does A Solar Meter Make Solar Power Cost Effective?

The utility bill will get credits depending on the net number of kilowatt-hours returned to the grid when the solar power system produces more electricity than is utilized in a month.

If the solar power system generates less electricity than is consumed in a particular month, the shortfall must be made up by purchasing electricity from the utility.

Users would pay for the power they consume, minus any extra electricity generated by the solar panels.

What is Net Metering?

Solar energy system owners get credited for the electricity they provide to the grid through net metering.

For example, a PV system on a residential customer’s roof may create more power than the residence consumes during daytime hours. If the home is net-metered, the electricity meter will run backward to offer a credit against the amount of power used at night or during other times when the home’s electricity consumption exceeds the system’s output.

Customers are only charged for the energy they use “net.” Only 20-40% of a solar energy system’s output ever makes it into the grid, and this solar electricity is used to power neighboring customers’ loads.

You can create enough power to match your home’s electricity usage for the whole year with the right size solar energy system. However, the quantity of energy generated by your solar panels will fluctuate throughout the year: more in the summer months when the sun is higher in the sky and sets early, and less in the winter when the sun is lower in the sky and sets sooner.

Net metering compensates for these seasonal variations in solar production by crediting you for any extra power your panels generate and allowing you to utilize it at a later period.

How Does Net Metering Give You Control Over Electricity Bills?

Net metering allows utility users to produce their own power in an environmentally friendly and cost-effective manner.

Most solar customers create more electricity than they consume during the day, and net metering allows them to export that excess energy to the grid, lowering their future electric costs.

Without Net metering, the solar system might not prove to be as economical and cost-effective as one may presume.

How To Measure Solar Output?

The amount of solar radiation that reaches the absorbent surface represents energy production. Instruments can be used to measure the amount of solar radiation falling on the earth’s surface, and accurate measurements are required to provide background solar data for solar energy conversion applications.

To measure solar radiation, there are two types of meters.

What is a Pyrheliometer?

It’s used to measure the normal incidence of direct beam radiation. Pyheliometers come in a variety of shapes and sizes. Primary standard instruments such as the Abbot silver disc pyrheliometer and the Angstrom compensation pyrheliometer are the essential ones.

In the United States, the Eppley normal incidence pyrheliometer (NIP) is a standard instrument for practical measurements, whereas, in Europe, the Kipp and Zonen actinometer is commonly used.

The major standard procedures are used to calibrate both of these devices. The above-mentioned gadgets, by design, measure the sun’s beam radiation as well as a tiny portion of the sky surrounding it.

On a sunny day with clear skies, the contribution of the circumsolar sky to the beam is practically minimal, according to experiments utilizing different pyrheliometer types. A cloudy day, on the other hand, redistributes the radiation, making the circumsolar sky’s contribution to the measurement more relevant.

What is A Pyranometer?

It’s used to figure out how much total hemisphere radiation there is. A pyranometer detects diffuse radiation while it is shaded. Pyranometers provide the majority of solar data.

Pyranometers with thermocouple indications and photovoltaic detectors are available. The sensors should, ideally, be unaffected by the sun spectrum’s wavelength and angle of incidence.

Pyranometers are also used to determine the information to collectors by measuring sun radiation on sloped surfaces.

How Do You Read A Solar Meter?

On the display, there are both positive and negative numbers. The positive figure represents the amount of power imported from the grid, as measured by a traditional electricity meter without solar.

The negative figure represents the quantity of power taken to the grid from the solar system. This is the quantity of power created by solar, which is more than the home required at the moment.

In this example, the positive value is greater than the negative value, indicating that this property has exported more electricity than it has imported, resulting in power company reimbursements to the property owner.

What Are The Benefits Of Using A Solar Meter?

The solar meter’s most obvious benefit is to customers. People can minimize the amount of money they spend on electricity each year by installing a solar meter in their house.

If more energy is generated than consumed, consumers can even profit. The utility provider pays the retail rate for the surplus energy. Some other benefits of Solar meters include:

  • The system is simple and cost-effective. It enables individuals to get fair compensation for the energy they generate without the need for a second metre or an expensive battery storage device.
  • It enables individuals and companies to create electricity, relieving some of the strain on the grid, particularly during peak usage hours.
  • Each residence has the potential to power two or three more dwellings. A neighbourhood may become self-sufficient if enough households in the area adopt renewable energy and solar meters.
  • It encourages customers to participate actively in alternative energy generation, which helps to maintain the environment and conserve natural resources.
  • Homes with solar meters are more conscious of their energy use and, as a result, more conscientious.

Sources;

  1. Bushong, S. (2015). What are solar meters? Retrieved from https://www.solarpowerworldonline.com/2015/11/what-are-solar-meters/
  2. Naturally, S. (2018). How to read a smart meter with solar power. Retrieved from https://www.solarnaturally.com.au/how-to-read-a-smart-meter-with-solar-power/
  3. Rodvien, E. (2018). Smart meters: What every solar homeowner should know. Retrieved from https://www.solarunitedneighbors.org/news/smart-meters-what-every-solar-homeowner-should-know/
  4. Sage, E. (2021). What is net metering? Retrieved from https://www.energysage.com/solar/solar-101/net-metering/
  5. SEIA. (2021). Net Metering Retrieved from https://www.seia.org/initiatives/net-metering
  6. Solar, J. (2021). What Are Solar Power Meters and How Do They Work? Retrieved from https://www.justsolar.com/blog/solar-power-meters
  7. Solar, S. (2013). A quick lesson in meter reading. Retrieved from https://solorasolar.com/a-quick-lesson-in-meter-reading/

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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