PV Monitoring Software Comparison

10 solutions for commercial & industrial asset monitoring (30 kWp - 10 MWp asset size)

31 monitoring providers with 71 systems have published their product details in pv magazine's database for “Monitoring and Operations Management Systems” (German-only), updated November 2018. With such diversity, it can be difficult to find the best solution for your needs.

While all-round expensive SCADA solutions offer the highest possible level of detail with many additional functions, simple freeware solutions were designed for the residential sector. Service providers for commercial and industrial (C&I) assets however, have their own needs that are only satisfied by a few selected providers. For C&I monitoring, focus is on process optimization. A monitoring software must support the processes of technical operation management in order to make repetitive tasks more efficient, such as the tracking of yield-relevant errors and smooth communication and documentation by using an efficient ticketing and reporting system.

In order to bring transparency into the price-quality labyrinth, Solytic has created a compact comparison for PV monitoring software solutions in the C&I segment. The following data is based on pv magazine's "Product Database Monitoring Systems" (from Nov. 2018) and has been supplemented with publicly available information from mentioned manufacturers.

Solytic Logo

€ 200


PowerDog Logo

€ 450


powerdoo Logo

€ 700


smartblue Logo

€ 360 - € 1.440


Solar Log Logo

€ 1.600


meteocontrol Logo

not public


Plexlog Logo

not public


SMA Logo

not public


QOS Energy Logo

not public


3E Logo

not public

Solytic Logo


PowerDog Logo

planned


powerdoo Logo


smartblue Logo


Solar Log Logo


meteocontrol Logo


Plexlog Logo


SMA Logo


QOS Energy Logo


3E Logo

Solytic Logo


PowerDog Logo


powerdoo Logo


smartblue Logo


Solar Log Logo


meteocontrol Logo


Plexlog Logo


SMA Logo


QOS Energy Logo


3E Logo

Solytic Logo


PowerDog Logo


powerdoo Logo


smartblue Logo


Solar Log Logo


meteocontrol Logo


Plexlog Logo


SMA Logo


QOS Energy Logo


3E Logo

Solytic Logo


PowerDog Logo


powerdoo Logo

planned


smartblue Logo


Solar Log Logo

optional


meteocontrol Logo

optional


Plexlog Logo


SMA Logo


QOS Energy Logo


3E Logo

Solytic Logo

planned


PowerDog Logo


powerdoo Logo

planned


smartblue Logo

planned


Solar Log Logo

optional


meteocontrol Logo


Plexlog Logo


SMA Logo


QOS Energy Logo


3E Logo

planned

Solytic Logo


PowerDog Logo

planned


powerdoo Logo


smartblue Logo


Solar Log Logo


meteocontrol Logo


Plexlog Logo


SMA Logo


QOS Energy Logo


3E Logo

Solytic Logo


PowerDog Logo


powerdoo Logo


smartblue Logo


Solar Log Logo


meteocontrol Logo


Plexlog Logo


SMA Logo


QOS Energy Logo


3E Logo

Solytic Logo


PowerDog Logo


powerdoo Logo


smartblue Logo


Solar Log Logo


meteocontrol Logo


Plexlog Logo

optional


SMA Logo


QOS Energy Logo


3E Logo

Solytic Logo


PowerDog Logo


powerdoo Logo


smartblue Logo


Solar Log Logo


meteocontrol Logo


Plexlog Logo


SMA Logo


QOS Energy Logo


3E Logo

optional

Solytic Logo


PowerDog Logo


powerdoo Logo


smartblue Logo


Solar Log Logo


meteocontrol Logo


Plexlog Logo

optional


SMA Logo


QOS Energy Logo


3E Logo

Solytic Logo


PowerDog Logo


powerdoo Logo


smartblue Logo


Solar Log Logo


meteocontrol Logo


Plexlog Logo

optional


SMA Logo


QOS Energy Logo


3E Logo

Solytic Logo


PowerDog Logo


powerdoo Logo


smartblue Logo


Solar Log Logo


meteocontrol Logo


Plexlog Logo


SMA Logo


QOS Energy Logo


3E Logo

Solytic Logo

€ 0.50 per kWp (be cancelled**)


PowerDog Logo

none


powerdoo Logo

none


smartblue Logo

none


Solar Log Logo

none


meteocontrol Logo

not public


Plexlog Logo

not public


SMA Logo

none


QOS Energy Logo

not public


3E Logo

not public

Solytic Logo

no


PowerDog Logo

yes


powerdoo Logo

no


smartblue Logo

no


Solar Log Logo

yes


meteocontrol Logo

no


Plexlog Logo

no


SMA Logo

yes


QOS Energy Logo

no


3E Logo

no

Solytic Logo PowerDog Logo powerdoo Logo smartblue Logo Solar-Log Logo meteocontrol Logo PLEXLOG Logo SMA Logo QOS Logo 3E Logo
Data by
PV Magazine Logo
Solytic PowerDog powerdoo smartblue WEB Enerest™ XL VCOM PLEXLOG Sunny Portal Professional Qantum Renewable Cloud SynaptiQ
Costs for 1 MWp per year* € 200 € 450 € 700 € 360 - € 1.440 € 1.600 not public not public not public not public not public
Ticketing system planned planned
Freely configurable reports
Automatic error recognition
Interpretation of error patterns planned optional optional
Calculation of the financial losses of certain error patterns optional planned planned optional planned
Weather satellite data planned
Irradiation calculation only via sensor
Performance ratio
(in beta)
optional
String plan / Digital Twin optional
Control room view optional
Portfolio management optional
Diagrams comparable across assets
Set up costs € 0.50 per kWp none none none none not public not public none not public not public
Own hardware required no yes no no yes no no yes no no
Source: pv magazine Produktdatenbank Monitoringsysteme, 22nd November 2018
*Prices (excl. VAT) calculated on the basis of the following data: PowerDog Website | Data from powerdoo | smartblue and Solar-Log WEB Enerest™ XL from pv magazine

Cost comparison

5 out of 10 providers have published their prices.

The following chart shows the annual costs for an asset portfolio of 1, 5 and 25 MWp in total. With a portfolio size of 1 MWp, Solytic is on average at least 50% cheaper than the market. The differences can also be clearly seen at 5 and 25 MWp.

Solytic is available for 20 cents per kWp per year, starting at a minimum of 60 €. For smaller portfolios, solutions such as powerdoo's portal are cheaper. From a portfolio size of 86 kWp Solytic offers the best value for money.

The setup costs (one-offtime setup fee) were published by 6 providers. Solytic charges 50 € cent per kWp, including introduction. With regards to the set up costs, hardware dependency should be considered. Although Powerdog and SMA charge no set up costs, according to manufacturer the monitoring solution exclusively works with its own paid hardware. Solar-Log WEB Enerest™ is also hardware-dependent, whereby the setup costs are only waived for residential-size systems up to 30 kWp. Smartblue has indicated a price range of 360 € to 1.440 € in the product database. However, it is not clear when which prices are charged. Therefore, for smartblue the most favourable case of 360 € was used for the comparison.

Why is Solytic up to 87% cheaper than other solutions?

Solytic has developed cost advantages on 3 levels and passes them directly on to the customer:

1. "Product First Strategy": Our focus is on product and service. Solytic deliberately avoids costly sales and marketing channels.
2. Investments by strategic partners such as Vattenfall: research and development costs do not have to be passed on to the customer.
3. Modern software for the optimization of internal work processes: Economies of scale are converted into favourable conditions for customers.

Tip: Use the Solytic cost calculator Cost-Calculator and determine your savings potential.

Ticketing system

7 of the 10 PV monitoring solutions considered (Solytic, powerdoo, smartblue, Solar-Log WEB Enerest™ XL, VCOM from meteocontrol, SynaptiQ from 3E and the Quantum Renewable Cloud from QOS) offer a ticketing system to initiate and manage work processes. In this way, interference can be prioritised and rectified as efficiently as possible.

Solytic does it this way:

Not every company has the same work processes. We have therefore developed a ticketing system for the Solytic Portal that can individually reproduce the company-specific work processes. The ticketing system adapts to the work processes and not vice versa. Tickets can be generated manually both in the ticketing system and from the alarm messages (optionally also automatically for certain error types).

Based on the ticket type, e-mails can be sent directly from the ticketing system to the responsible service provider or employee. Thus Solytic helps O&M professionals and Asset Managers to manage their work processes as effectively as possible.

Automatic error recognition

Automatic error detection is probably one of the most basic functions. Not surprisingly, it is also offered in all of the 10 highlighted portals. As so often the difference lies in the details.

Solytic does it this way:

Solytic also attaches great importance to ensuring that the user gets to the information he needs as quickly as possible in order to be able to process errors as quickly as possible. Errors can be listed at portfolio, asset or device level. Recurring error images are grouped and errors are automatically marked as completed after processing.

Interpretation of error patterns

The interpretation of error patterns helps O&M professionals to analyse and process them more efficiently, leading to more effective work planning and ultimately saving time and money.

Solytic does it this way:

Firstly, Solytic offers the display of system messages fed by the inverters and data loggers and secondly system specific alert messages. The user can filter and sort individually.

The flexibility of the system's own alarm messages is currently being extended so that the user can also adapt this function to his own requirements. Basically, the Solytic portal offers filter and sort functions to quickly find the desired content.

Calculation of financial losses of certain error patterns

So far, only meteocontrol and QOS offer a draft version of an error cost calculation. Based on empirical values and error categories first loss calculations can be estimated.

Solytic does it this way:

Like many software providers, Solytic plans to offer this feature in the near future. The accuracy of the calculation depends, of course, largely on the customer's willingness to share internal information (e.g. hourly rates for service personnel).

Irradiation calculation based on satellite & sensor data

Satellite and sensor data are used to calculate the local solar radiation at the location of solar assets. This target value is currently available from almost all compared software providers (with the exception of PowerDog).

Solytic does it this way:

Solytic uses satellite and sensor data to calculate the specific target AC performance of an asset. In addition to the irradiation values, system parameters such as the orientation and inclination of the modules and the geoposition of the system are also taken into account. This is how the technical yield target value is calculated. If a asset produces less than technically possible in the long term, there is usually a need for a response. By dynamically weighing the various factors, the system learns continuously and the calculation becomes more accurate over time.

Performance ratio

The decisive factor for calculating the performance ratio is the data input. The calculation of the Performance Ratio, which is based on satellite measurements, produces meaningful results when looking at a longer period of time - usually one year. If, however, measurement data are collected on-site, the theoretically achievable yield can be properly approximated and thus shorter time periods can also be considered.

The decisive factor for calculating the performance ratio is the data input. The calculation of the Performance Ratio, which is based on satellite measurements, produces meaningful results when looking at a longer period of time - usually one year. If, however, measurement data are collected on-site, the theoretically achievable yield can be properly approximated and thus shorter time periods can also be considered.

The performance ratio can also be used to compare investments operating in different (climatic) regions or to draw conclusions about losses. Ideally, it can be even used to make statements about degradation, i.e. the reduction in hardware performance over time. However, this requires high measurement accuracy and constant comparison with the ambient conditions.

Solytic does it this way:

At Solytic, the performance ratio is in the beta phase. It has been specially designed for in-depth analysis in order to detect hidden errors at an early stage.

Display of technical string plan / digital twin

Basically, it should be noted that Solytic distinguishes between a technical string plan and a digital twin. However, since we aim to make the comparison as objective as possible, we have adopted from the pv magazine market overview.

A visualisation of the string plans enables an intuitive linking of information and the actual asset. For example, alert indications and key parameters, such as DC voltage or yield, can be pinpointed and interpreted directly at the affected system points.

Solytic does it this way:

In this context, we differentiate between two approaches for the construction of a digital twin:a) the behavior model, calculated using learning algorithms (neural network, machine learning, artificial intelligence), as used by QOS, and b) the physical model, as used by Solytic.

The first model uses actual values from the system to learn the behavior of the system under certain conditions and to evaluate it in the future. If the actual values later deviate from the calculated target values, conclusions can be drawn about possible causes.

The physical model has its origin among others at NASA - in order to visualise and understand technical devices, when they are physically not accessible. In this approach, the system components with all their properties are uploaded into a digital model and their measured values are correlated. This allows to remotely determine and evaluate the exact condition of the entire system. The physical digital twin also allows that scenarios can be simulated, in the case of photovoltaics e.g. the replacement of an inverter as well as the resulting effect on the yield.

Currently the data is also brought into a context in order to learn the dynamic behavior of systems and to be able to evaluate them with foresight.

Control room view

The control room view provides the user with an overview of KPIs and error messages for efficient monitoring of asset portfolios.

Solytic does it this way:

Solytic splits this data view into a direct portfolio benchmark and a qualitative view for quick error identification with localisation. This view contains the most important information an O&M professional needs to identify a need for action. In the directly linked Portfolio Management-feature, device and system errors as well as the most important portfolio key figures are also displayed, more on this below.

Portfolio management

While detailed monitoring is often not necessary at all for residential-size assets or it simply does not pay off, and utility-size assets must be monitored so precisely that portfolio views and functions play a rather subordinate role. But this is not the case in the commercial and industrial segment, where a large number of assets often have to be monitored as efficiently as possible.

And that's the bottom line. It is not enough to be able to manage a large number of assets in the portal. Rather, it is about creating conditions for O&M professionals and Asset Managers that enable them to manage a portfolio as efficiently as possible.

Solytic does it this way:

Various portfolio views are offered in Solytic. While monitoring solutions are usually based on the classic tree structure, Solytic can save work steps and monitor all (or selected) devices at portfolio level, not just plants.

For example, the user can display an overview of all inverters of the entire portfolio, filter them by "problem cases" and compare them. With views like these, many work processes can be handled efficiently with Solytic.

Diagrams comparable across assets

The comparison of different assets offers the possibility of showing performance deviations and system weaknesses that would hardly be visible individually. However, care must be taken here, as many factors influence the measured values, such as DC voltage or AC yield. Taking into account all system parameters, it is also possible to relate values that are supposedly unique to the asset.

Solytic does it this way:

The Solytic software normalizes the asset values, taking into account various asset-specific parameters and characteristics, e.g. the string plan, the geoposition and the alignment of the modules. In this way, among other things, the power and yield can be compared device-specifically.

Is the software manufacturer-independent?

7 of the 10 solutions can be used without additional hardware (Solytic, powerdoo, smartblue, VCOM from meteocontrol, PLEXLOG, SynaptiQ from 3E and Quantum Renewable Cloud from QOS). There is a hardware dependency for 3 solutions, which means according to the manufacturer a corresponding data logger must be used (PowerDog, Solar-Log WEB Enerest™, Sunny Portal from SMA).

Which solution is the right one for the respective application has to be clarified in detail. When switching a larger portfolio, it is easier and more cost-effective to consider a solution that doesn’t require additional hardware costs.

Make the right decision for your company!

In gerneral we encourage everyone to test all viable solutions to make sure, that the right decision is made. For that reaseon we offer a live demo account, so you can properly get to know our portal.


Note:
This comparison is based on public data from pv magazine's "Product Database Monitoring Systems". Prices, if available, come directly from the providers. With this note we would like to explicitly point out that this article is only an excerpt that compares the most important features as well as the providers from our point of view. In this way we can guarantee an adequate overview of the information. To view the complete data, simply click on the link to pv-magazine's product database (German-only).
For product detail updates please email us at marketing@solytic.com.