Solar has been on our wish-list for quite some time, but never quite got beyond the "we should probably look at doing that next year" stage.
Last year, though, things changed: we saw huge energy price rises as the result of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, followed by interest rates rocketing in response to the abject ineptitude of Liz Truss's government. The result was that we decided it was time to bite the bullet and get onto an installer's waiting list.
Solar installations tend to consist of 3 main components - Photovoltaic (PV) Panels, at least one Inverter and a Meter. Some (us included) also add a battery for storage.
The inverter converts DC from the panels (and battery) to AC, but also acts as a router, communicating with each of the other components in order to decide whether to send power to the battery, house or grid.
There are a wide range of Solar Inverters on the market, each with their own pros and cons. In practice though, consumers don't always get much choice over the inverter that they get (at least not unless they're willing to switch between installation companies).
The inverter that came with our installation was manufactured by Ginlong's Solis.
Most modern solar inverters report generation and usage statistics back into infrastructure managed by the manufacturer. Solis, like many others, exposes these metrics to consumers via an online UI offering monitoring of current and historic inverter and panel output as well as this funky diagram
Solis's interface, Soliscloud, has an accompanying android app which can also be used to see usage as well as to receive alarms/notifications on your phone.
Building My Own
The navigation is a little arcane, but there's nothing inherently wrong with the Soliscloud interface - it does what it needs to do just fine.
The problem, for me, is simply that the information is locked away in one (proprietary) system, meaning that it isn't possible to factor other sources into any analysis I want to do of the system's performance.
I also prefer, where at all possible, that all my dashboards are in a single place (which is currently Grafana).
Soliscloud has an API though, so I set about writing a Telegraf exec plugin to pull metrics from Soliscloud so that they can be written into InfluxDB for later analysis and visualisation in Grafana.
This post talks about how I set that up, as well as a few issues I ran into along the way.