SolarDesignTools provides free interactive online design tools for Electric Solar Power energy systems. This includes determining the required number of solar panels, how many batteries will be needed, calculating wire sizes, a solar radiation chart, example system pictorials, and more.
Try this example of an interactive electric Solar Power Simulator to see how Solar Energy systems work.

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Meters & Monitoring

Keeping an eye on performance
Meters & monitoring equipment are vital to observing the health and performance of your Solar Power Energy System. Unlike 'gridders' (I just made that up!), who are connected to the standard utility grid, you will want to keep track of several bits of information about your Solar Power Energy System. This is not only necessary, but also quite interesting. One gets a sense of satisfaction by supplying your own power and knowing how the system works.

Voltage is probably the most important thing to monitor. Letting the voltage drop too low is hard on the batteries and if low enough can actually ruin them. Here is an example of voltages for a 12 Volt system:

PerCent ChargedBattery Voltage
100 % charged12.7 volts
90 % charged12.6 volts
80 % charged12.5 volts
70 % charged12.3 volts
60 % charged12.2 volts
50 % charged12.1 volts
40 % charged12.0 volts
30 % charged11.9 volts
20 % charged11.8 volts
10 % charged11.7 volts
completely discharged11.6 volts or less
A good rule of thumb is to not go lower than 50% discharged. This will increase overall battery life. That means 12.1 Volts (for a 12 Volt system). The measurement should be made after the batteries have not been charged or discharged for 30 minutes or so. This will give a fairly accurate reading.

Next, it's always nice to know how many amps your solar panels are producing. This requires a current/amp meter. You can use separate, dedicated meters, or buy a Multi-function Meter that has many functions. I think a Volt Meter, an Amp Meter and a Multi-function Meter make a good compliment of monitoring equipment.

That way you can see at a glance what your system Voltage is and how many Amps you are getting from your Solar Panels. And, if more information such as AmpHours used, AmpHours remaining, Watts produced, etc, is desired, you can see this information using the Multi-function meter.


Home / Overview Starting Guide System Sizing Tool Battery Designer Wire Size Calculator Tips & Strategies Terms & Definitions
Solar Panels Charge Controllers Storage Batteries Inverters/Generators Meters & Monitoring Solar Radiation Wiring Diagrams

DISCLAIMER : The information and suggestions on this website are generally proven and accepted standards and techniques. They are, however, not meant to supersede local zoning laws or the recommendations of a licensed electrician. Always read the instructions provided with your equipment and observe all safety precautions.