A Remote energy monitoring has many uses for a Net Zero energy home.

A remote energy monitoring application can give you peace of mind in many situations.  Especially if you leave your Net Zero energy home for any length of time.  We have chosen to use four monitoring systems for our purposes.  They all provide very valuable information concerning the status of our entire home and shop building.  The HVAC system forms the bulk of our Net Zero energy system and the remote energy monitoring.

Our home security installation  probably provides the most peace of mind reassurance of the four monitoring systems.  I personally installed it in a few hours taking my time to fully understand the system.  It required no wiring, drilling holes or screwing pieces to the walls.  We especially appreciate the lightning-fast response times any time we made an error that demanded a response.  Both the wife and I really appreciate all that this system offers.  Two leaks brought an instant warning both with a loud audible alarm and an almost instant call to my phone.

A weather monitoring station provides useful real time information.

We purchased a LaCrosse Technology  model C84612 Wireless Weather Station several years ago from Costco.  It has performed almost flawlessly for us and we even purchased an extra desk monitor about a year ago.  This product offers a low-cost monitoring service that we use a lot.  I particularly like to monitor the inside and outside home temperatures on a real-time basis.  The first parameter lets me know if the HVAC system is behaving properly.  This can be a great assistance if we are out of town.  We can easily make it home before the building cools off enough to be a problem.  The concrete heat mass keeps our building above freezing for at least ten days in normal winter outside temperature conditions.

The weather station also gives rain accumulations for the day, week and year (?).  I really like watching the average wind speed and  gusts during frequent summer thunderstorms.  We also pay attention to the display of the wind chill during the rare winter blizzards we sometimes experience.  The remote monitoring application our PC also gives graphical presentations of temperatures and winds, but we seldom use those.  Another feature we don’t use much is the Alarm capability for alerting you whenever a set point for any parameter is exceeded.

 

 

Remote energy monitoring of local weather with home weather station.

Remote energy monitoring of home weather made possible with LaCrosse Technology weather station.

Remote energy monitoring is essential for solar energy production.

SolarEdge grid-tie inverters feature free remote energy monitoring with your purchase.  Such a program for your PC or iPhone offers valuable real-time and historical data concerning your solar energy production.  I appreciate having access to most any kind of information regarding solar production that I might desire.

Graphical presentations of production give me an instant picture of what is happening with my solar system.  For instance, it tells me instantly which panels are covered with snow.  Heavily covered panels put out no energy even in the presence of bright sunshine.  I can even go back in time and tell you exactly which days the panels were covered last winter.  The program will also tell me remotely if the home is experiencing cloudy weather or totally clear skies.

Remote energy monitoring with SolarEdge production graphs.

SolarEdge remote energy monitoring screen showing production on a monthly basis.

 

The SolarEdge remote energy monitoring program is more than just production.

A sunny day generates a graph that starts at zero in the morning and proceeds to a peak at high noon following to zero at sunset.  That graph is totally smooth with no peaks or valleys along the way during the day.  A totally overcast day will show little production all day long.  The summer day that generates lots of cumulus clouds will show a broken pattern of sharp peaks and sharp drop-offs in the curve.

 

 

SolarEdge remote energy monitoring screen shows clear and cloudy days.

SolarEdge screen shows information besides production.

You might have noticed on the preceding screen capture when the sun popped out for a bit within an otherwise cloudy day.  Another day showed that on an otherwise clear day the sun was briefly obstructed by a (cumulus?) cloud.

One day I was looking at another screen within the SolarEdge remote energy monitoring program.  That screen presentation told me something was wrong with one of the panels.  One black panel in a sea of blue panels told me that it was not producing at all.  Shortly thereafter I went up onto the roof and did some measurements with my voltmeter.  The meter told me that there was power being generated by the panel.  However, the power optimizer readings showed that the device was not operating as expected.

You will note in the picture below that the layout screen shows precisely what each and every panel and inverter has produced so far today.  That screen will even show when shade from the lower roof peaks shadow some of the panels.  This information provides very useful and not just interesting information for the solar system owner or troubleshooter.

 

The SolarEdge roof layout is shown under the layout tab.

SolarEdge remote energy monitoring system showing the roof panel layout.

My remote energy monitoring app from Energy Curb shows load consumption.

I love my remote energy monitoring system by Energy Curb.  It displays the actual energy or power usage in real time by each electric circuit in the shop and house.  Historical data information presents a good view of which appliances are drawing excessive power.  We have employed this information to track down energy hog appliances.  Some such findings led us on the path toward finding fixes or totally eliminating the nasty appliance.  We actually gave away a 25 year old garage refrigerator because it was using too much energy.  It actually consumed more energy than our new twice as large kitchen refrigerator .

The screen capture below shows some of the useful information the home page provides.

 

Remote energy monitor app showing instant power, last 3 hour energy used and 24 hour usage (pie).

The Energy Curb remote energy monitor showing energy usage for past three hours, 24 hours and instantaneous power consumption.

The energy curb  electrical load remote energy monitoring app is invaluable.

The Curb Energy load monitoring system includes a free remote monitoring app that paid for itself with one event.  We went on a trip out of state for a high school reunion party.  I always keep track of our Net Zero system when we are gone.  The Curb Energy remote monitoring app showed me that the well pump had been running continually over a 24 hour period. The well pump should never be running for very long that September.

I immediately called my son-in-law to explain the problem.  He replied that he would leave instantly. Within minutes he entered the house and with my guidance he threw valves and helped me figure out the problem.    The problem was a stuck flow control valve on the output of the heat pump leading to the discharge well.

We quickly solved the problem by turning off the heat pump feed valve.  Minutes later our son-in-law was on his way home.  Fortunately the heat pump was still in the summer cooling mode.  You can imagine the problems this one incident could have caused without us nipping it in the bud!  The well pump running for two weeks solid would have used over 300 kWh of energy.   Fixing the issue quickly might have extended the life expectancy of the pump motor compared to letting it run indefinitely.

 

 

Energy Curb's presentation of individual circuit loads.

Remote energy monitoring of load circuits shown by Energy Curb app.

Note in the screen capture above how easily it is to spot a circuit that active at any given time.  The previous screen capture showed me the well pump had consumed the lion’s share of the energy in the past 24 hours.