Most inverters come with monitoring software, but integrating solar monitoring into other home intelligence software could be a future trend. Sense home energy monitor now allows homeowners to monitor solar production, along with making sure their garage door is closed, dryer is off and more. Sense co-founder and CEO Mike Phillips tells more in the questions below.
SPW: Tell me more about Sense HomeCheck and what information it provides?
MP: Sense HomeCheck is a new feature of Sense’s core home intelligence product which gives consumers a real-time view of what is going on in their homes. Sense already provides a view of total energy consumption compared with solar production and an appliance-by-appliance breakdown of energy usage for a growing set of devices in homes. With Sense HomeCheck, we now also provide diagnostics for the home as an additional benefit of the high resolution metering. We’ve already begun to automate detection of certain solar inverter failures and over time we will provide a broader set of diagnostics functions including arc faults, HVAC failures and more.
How does your service work with inverter manufacturer-provided monitoring?
While some equipment does provide monitoring functionality, we find in many cases that this either doesn’t exist (in older solar installations for example), is missing the detection of certain faults, or is no longer being monitored by the homeowner or installer. By combining diagnostic functionality in a mobile app that consumers use for other purposes (general home awareness, driving energy efficiency, intelligence for home automation, etc.), we are able to give consumers insights into problems that they would otherwise not have.
Who is purchasing/using the Sense HomeCheck interface, the installer or homeowner or both?
It can be both. We have been selling directly to consumers through our website and are now available on Amazon, but we are also now working with a number of solar installers who are including Sense as part of an overall solar package. As part of this, we now are adding fleet management tools to allow installers to easily monitor a large numbers of installs–to see things like production, savings, and the faults detected by Sense HomeCheck (with consumer permission of course).
In addition to adding valuable functionality to the end consumers of solar systems, we think Sense HomeCheck and the associated fleet management tools can provide ways for installers to develop ongoing relationships with customers. That can include maintenance and overall monitoring of the solar system, but can also include opportunities for follow-on capabilities such as storage, connected appliances or energy efficiency improvements.