Question: I have a question regarding consumption monitoring and was hoping to get your opinion between the SMA Energy Meter and the Solar Analytics Smart monitor – both assume being fitted to an SMA Inverter. I am very interested in getting one of them.
I have read the user manual for the SMA E Meter, Sunny Portal and Solar Analytics as well as watched many videos on Youtube. They both seem to provide very similar functionality with respect to their monitoring features and abilities.
I am comfortable with all the obvious differences with the two (like one uses mobile data, has a lifetime subscription etc) but am I missing something here? Perhaps there is a pressing reason to go with one over the other?
My Answer: The reason I recommend Solar Analytics is this:
It is the only monitoring system I know of that actually tells you if your solar system is working properly.
Think about it - the SMA monitoring will tell you how many kWs your system produced every minute or so historically and in real-time, and how many kWh it produced each day/week/month etc.
If it tells you your system produced 150 kWh last week - does that mean it is operating optimally?
If it tells you your system hit a peak of 4.8 kW yesterday - is that good or bad?
Answering the question 'how many kWh should my system have produced yesterday?' is very hard - you need to know what the weather was like over your roof every hour of the day - then you need to convert that weather data to expected kW.
As far as I am aware, no inverter manufacturer has the capability to build these algorithms.
So I recommend Solar Analytics because it can do that. You can look at your dashboard and know in a heartbeat if your system is working optimally or not. It will alert you if there is a problem. It can show you if your panels are degrading over time or getting shaded by a growing tree. etc etc. Any other monitor just tells you kW and kWh.
It also displays consumption really well.