With a home solar system, it’s easy to see the clean energy you produce day in and day out. The flick of a light switch or hum of the dryer are good indicators of your solar array’s success, and just as easily, its progress can be viewed on a mobile app. But when you receive your utility bill, you may find yourself wondering how your solar power production compares to your electricity consumption.
To fully understand the power of your solar system, getting the entire picture of your home’s energy production and consumption is necessary. Monitoring your SunPower® solar system through the mySunPower® app can not only show you how much solar energy you generate but also how much electricity you are using. This knowledge can help you better plan out your utility costs. For example, if you find that the weather is curbing energy production for a day or two, you can consciously decide to scale back on electricity use for the day. However, there may be certain scenarios when you aren't able to easily view your energy consumption. Let’s explore those situations.
We'll start with the basics. In order to view your electricity consumption in real time, your electrical panel will need a current transformer or CT. But what exactly is a CT? CTs are small devices used in your home’s electrical system that measure electrical current. These devices are crucial for homeowners with a solar system that want the option of monitoring their home's power usage. If you have a SunVault® storage system, a CT is required for the system to work properly.
Not all homeowners with a solar system installed have CTs and there are some good reasons for that. The first reason is that other solar energy technologies may not have the power monitoring requirements that SunPower does. If you have older solar panels, it’s possible that the solar monitoring component was not yet a part of the product requirements.
The second reason is more common, especially for newer systems. Residential electrical panels vary depending on the age and location of your home. Some are more complex to work with than others. It’s worth noting that determining just how complex installing a CT will be requires an in-depth look from an electrician. Oftentimes, your solar installer won’t be able to identify how involved the job is until after the site survey is completed.
When a homeowner’s electrical panel involves a complex CT installation, the work could take several hours to even days. The associated costs, time to complete and skill level needed to properly configure your home could lead to an additional fee. Luckily, this extra work is often not needed.
In any case, a highly skilled, trained and experienced professional is necessary to properly install CTs. Even simple cases require a certain amount of knowledge. That’s why choosing the right solar installer is important. At SunPower, we provide our dealers and solar installers with specialized training for various types of consumption CT installations. Most of these training sessions are required. To ensure you receive the world-class service that you’ve come to expect from our brand, we have also created a system of checks and balances that verifies proper installation after an installer completes the task.
In very rare cases, CT installation is not available for your home, but not all hope is lost. You can view energy consumption details within your monthly utility bill. The great news is that most homeowners can monitor their home solar system with ease, down to each individual panel with the mySunPower app. Check out this video to learn about mySunPower’s various features.