Solar Builder

MAR-APR 2018

Solar Builder focuses on the installation/construction of solar PV systems. We cover the latest PV technology (modules, mounting, inverters, storage, BOS) and equip installers/contractors with tips and tools to make informed purchasing decisions.

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As Handelsman puts it: "For instance, some EPCs can now offer different levels of O&M services without incurring a sig- nificant amount of increased costs." That transition requires preparation, though. "Clearly there is an opportunity for installers to sell monitoring and O&M ser- vices if they are up to the task," Brehaut says. "They have to be ready to deliver, despite limited resources; the way that service calls weigh against new installs can be an issue. The ability to view status codes remotely helps a service provider to determine wheth- er a truck roll is necessary or not. "If we fast forward, when there is a strong economic utility incentive to man- age an entire home or business, then moni- toring and energy management services become very compelling, so third party operators may find ways to compete with the inverter and monitoring equipment manufacturers to provide service," Brehaut says. He recently explored the concept in a white paper, "Solar PV Asset Management 2017-2022," produced with GTM Research. "The advantage is that by moni- toring solar, storage and total consumption, some level of automation can be done, though still limited." Smart home monitoring provider Smappee cautions that basic inverter monitoring and basic smart home man- agement are, at least for now, largely dif- ferent functions. "Internet-based inverter monitoring is not a substitute for smart energy monitoring. Likewise, today's smart home energy monitoring systems like Smappee Plus may measure solar PV consumption, but they are also not a sub- stitute for the manufacturer's inverter monitoring systems. Rather, the two prod- ucts should be seen as complementary," the company explains. Smappee's latest innovation, Smappee Plus, acts like an energy traffic controller that can automatically steer excess solar energy production to home appliances in order of preference, further increasing a homeowner's energy efficiency and cost savings. For example, if a consumer is simultaneously charging their EV and cooking on an electric stove, Smappee Plus can control and reduce the power that goes toward the EV until the homeowners finish cooking to avoid fuses from blowing. Afterwards, the car will receive more power again. "By having an understanding of energy consumption at the appliance level, in tan- dem with solar generation and storage sta- tus, smart energy monitors can further opti- mize the energy flow locally at the home level, providing great value for use cases such as demand charging and load management maximizing savings," Grosjean says. "These use cases will be very important in the future as utilities across the United States are implementing demand charging and time- of-use pricing." Chris Crowell is the managing editor of Solar Builder. SOLARBUILDERMAG.COM | 33

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