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How to Monitor Solar Energy PV Plants by Choosing the Right RTU

By Ziad Alezabi

December 12, 2023

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Last week, a client asked me to help with their SCADA system proposal for a solar energy plant abroad.

I came across your website when I was searching for solar monitoring solutions. I wanted to know what monitoring solutions you can provide me with. If you have any case studies on how your telemetry systems work with solar energy PV (Photovoltaic) plants, that would be great.

You need remote monitoring and control solutions to keep your solar plant running smoothly. You also need to think about how you can create a profit margin while serving high-quality equipment.

To deal with large sites, you'll need alarm monitoring system equipment like Remote Telemetry Units (RTUs) that send reports to a master station (T/Mon).

The quality of your alarm system for solar energy plants depends on the manufacturer you choose for monitoring. You need to pick a manufacturer who offers you reliability AND flexibility.

Use High-quality and Reliable Monitoring Equipment

The scale of your business and budget will often determine your spending. However, whenever possible, try not to compromise on the quality of your alarm monitoring system equipment. Investing in a proper monitoring system helps save money. It prevents the following avoidable system failures...

  • Manufacturing defects in your solar panel cells that cause hot spots, reducing power generating efficiency.
  • Cells overheating because to high current flow even though your panels are in a de-energized state
  • Data collection on environmental factors like humidity and temperature, or incorrect grounding that leads to Potential Induced Degradation (PID).
  • Cracked cells that lead to low panel to power conversion rates

After learning more about my client's needs, I briefly described our SCADA products overview to him.

As explained, we offer a variety of customizable RTUs (NetGuardians) that cater to a wide variety of your needs. We have a master station (T/Mon) that also comes in various form factors to accommodate what you need. These include remote relays and monitoring.

This cuts travel costs and saves you from potential equipment damage because of how fast you're able to respond. We offer SMS alerts and HMI to visually report information from your SCADA monitoring equipment to network operators.

I've also provided an article we wrote about monitoring solar PV plants for your case study needs. We provide you with remote relays that enable you to see if your solar energy PV plant panels are overheating, or have reduced output efficiency, and will also notify you if your panels have been damaged or hampered by environmental conditions.

Flexible and Clear Solutions Help Respond To Your Complex Requirements

Part of picking the right manufacturer comes down to how compatible it is with your systems and how clear the interface is to you. You will likely want to receive notifications that tell them what exactly went wrong, and where exactly it happened.

How easy and precise an alert is to read, makes response times quicker. This can be the difference between salvaging your equipment or having to replace it due to damage, and it comes down to how good your data acquisition systems equipment is.

Choosing The Right RTU Manufacturer

To pick an RTU manufacturer that will set you up for success, look for ones that offer...

  • Reliable and solution designed customer support
  • Integrability with pre-existing systems and the ability to overcome compatibility issues
  • Reliable equipment documentation with ease-of-read
  • Variation in equipment offered to you. Beware of a promise that claims to fit everyone. This is a lazy shortcut and comes with manufacturers who can't handle unexpected problems.

Choosing the correct RTU manufacturer is vital to prevent issues in solar power plants and dealing potential blackouts in real time.

Your customers may decide to switch to a more reliable energy source if you perceive your service as unreliable. Remember, a satisfied customer is a loyal customer.

My client had an understandable concern about how willing his solar energy PV plant organization was to renew its alarm monitoring system.

One of my main concerns is that the solar energy PV plant organization isn't willing to completely overhaul its monitoring systems. I want to make sure that you guys have products that will be the most relevant in the market of who I'm trying to sell to first if that's not too much trouble.

I assured my client that we had his back no matter what.

No worries at all, DPS manufactures its equipment in-house, this gives us the freedom to create parts whenever you're working with a customer who has incompatibility issues. We also have pre-existing equipment that already accommodates most situations.

In your example, I see that you'll need a few more RTUs and T/Mons but each site you're working with has different requirements. Some sites would require the NetGuardians with higher capacity such as the NetGuardian 832A and others would require a NetGuardian 216 so that you can save some cost.

How The Right Manufacturer Will Help You Create a Profit Margin

To do that you need to achieve a desirable and sustainable profit margin. You can do this by doing business with an RTU manufacturer who offers you reliable and efficient products.

This would reduce your costs by...

  • Lowering your maintenance costs by detecting early symptoms of potential problems, which increases your return on investment (ex. cells overheating, inefficient power supply, environmentals that aren't ideal, etc.)
  • Word spreads. When you constantly offer a renewable energy source to your customers, they give positive reviews and recommend you to others in the industry. The solar energy industry is rapidly growing. You want your services to be your main advertisement.
  • Discounts for large installations! A great alarm monitoring system manufacturer will always include the possible discounts that you can get in their proposals. This would be one of the best ways to go about creating profit margins in your early-game product proposal.
  • If you decide to order in a large quantity, good manufacturers will let you schedule out deliveries and invoicing for a year or more. This helps you match your customer's order and installation schedules. This means that you don't miss out on limited-time discounts while waiting for incremental installations.

Look For Manufacturers With Good Communication

After finalizing the details with my client, I sent him a proposal with all the equipment necessary. I also made sure to include in my proposal the amount of money he'd be saving since he was buying in bulk. He's been added to our invoicing and delivery plan, and I'm excited to build a great partnership with him.

Finding a manufacturer with good customer support, many products, clear documentation, and the ability to work with existing systems is crucial. It is important to ensure that the manufacturer provides excellent customer support.

They should offer a wide range of products and have clear documentation available. It is also essential that they can integrate with existing systems. The aim is to offer a good service that attracts and keeps customers, building a strong foundation for a successful business.

Choosing an RTU manufacturer is crucial for the reliability and security of your solar energy PV monitoring system. At DPS we offer reliable customer and tech support, a wide variety of products, and manufacturing flexibility and integrability. Our aim is to offer a dependable service that helps you gain and retain customers for a long time.

DPS sees your business as our business because your success is ours as well. If you need any further help, even if we can't reach an agreement on our services, I would be more than happy to help point you in the right direction.

Call me today at 1-800-693-0351 or E-mail me at sales@dpstele.com

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Ziad Alezabi

Ziad Alezabi

Ziad Alezabi is a Application Documentarian at DPS Telecom. He reviews successful DPS client projects and reports on the best practices that you can use to successfully reach your own project goals.