Solar Power World – Inverter monitoring apps help commercial clients put solar projects on display

Solar projects are unique electricity sources, sitting silently and covertly on top of roofs or on tracts of land away from the public eye. Many project owners, from schools to commercial businesses, want to flaunt their obstructed-from-view solar. Inverter manufacturers and installers help them tell the story.

Installers see demand for public display

Massachusetts-based solar installer Ameresco has found every commercial client wants to display its solar investment to the public somehow, said Hans Meyer, director of Ameresco’s Renewable Energy Group. The installer provides that information in an engaging way, especially to its school clients.

“Every single customer that we’re working with wants the ability to display something publicly. It may not be necessarily a differentiator, but everyone’s expecting that you have some way to present the data for internal uses within these companies, and external uses,” Meyer said.

Ameresco uses inverter-supplied monitoring like Enphase Envoy for simpler, smaller projects, but it typically uses a combination of data acquisition software solutions to present weather data, consumption info and more for clients to display both internally and publicly. Ameresco then creates custom websites for customers to display on monitors in their buildings.

The company has devised a unique way to make K-12 school solar projects tangible and understandable for students in the form of “solar wagons.” Each wagon consists of a few solar modules hooked up to a battery and an LCD monitor, so students can watch the sun powering the monitor in real time. Schools can opt to own the wagons personalized with the school’s logo and wheeled from class to class to teach children about solar.

“It’s been a really neat, visual way to bring the concept of solar and larger initiatives that our customers have and make it more real for students in classrooms,” Meyer said.

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