Pecan Street Launches Free “Check Engine Light” Service for Solar Panel Owners

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By Kelly Pickerel
This article originally published on Solar Power World, and is reprinted with permission

Pecan Street has launched a free service to help solar panel owners discover maintenance issues with their systems nearly as soon as they occur.

Pecan Street Sol is a check engine light for residential solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, providing customers with near-real-time maintenance status and performance information. The service automatically detects problems that could significantly reduce the amount of electricity being generated.

The service is available nationwide for solar PV system owners who have eGauge and eGauge-compatible energy monitoring systems installed with their panels. Sol is now available on the Apple App Store and Google Play, and a web portal version is forthcoming. As with the service, the Sol mobile application software is free.

“We developed Sol when we discovered that even tech-savvy owners who monitor their generation were finding it nearly impossible to know if their solar systems needed maintenance,” said Pecan Street CEO Brewster McCracken. “The good news we found is that solar PV systems are nearly maintenance free, and even when they do need maintenance, it’s usually something inexpensive and simple to fix. With Sol, solar system owners can ensure that even more of their electricity is provided by the carbon-free power plants on their roofs.”

Pecan Street developed the service after its analysis of over 250 residential solar PV systems in its research trials found that many solar system owners were not detecting maintenance issues on their solar PV systems. Even though nearly all of these maintenance issues were so minor that they would typically cost less than $25 and take less than an hour to fix, the solar PV systems were in many instances going offline for weeks to months because the maintenance issues were undetected.

The service is the first to leverage Pecan Street’s energy signal diagnostics tools.

The Pecan Street report that led to the development of this service is available online.

“Homeowners invest in solar for various reasons,” said Greg Greenan, vice president at eGauge Systems LLC. “But all of them want to maximize their return on investment. This service leverages the power of eGauge’s energy monitoring products to help solar PV owners protect their investments and to provide them with instant performance feedback. It’s a significant addition to our product offering and we look forward to making it available to our customers.”

Pecan Street Sol integrates generation data for solar PV systems that use eGauge, LightGauge (Lighthouse Solar), Hot Purple Energy, Revolve Solar and other eGauge-compatible devices. The service also provides up-to-date information on the value of the energy being produced and the energy being consumed in the home.

Smartphone and tablet owners who do not have solar panels installed or do not have eGauge-compatible systems can still install Pecan Street Sol on their phone or tablet to see how the service works.

As with all of Pecan Street’s research, the anonymized solar PV data is available for free to university faculty and students around the world at Pecan Street’s Dataport. Pecan Street has developed and operates what appears to be the world’s largest research database on appliance level customer energy and water use, solar panel performance and customer response to behavioral interventions.

The site provides online search and visualization tools for Pecan Street’s extensive real-world, real-customer energy research network of over 1,200 homes in California, Colorado and Texas.