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Wattson Solar Plus helps me to get the most out of my solar PV

Posted by Cathy Debenham on 26 April 2012 at 7:45 am

Key to getting the best out of your solar PV system is knowing when you are producing more electricity than you are using. This is the time to do things that use the most electricity.

Of course, this isn't always possible. If you want to relax in front of the telly in the evening, the sun's probably gone down already. Similarly for boiling a kettle of water after your evening meal. But, if you're at home and flexible, there are things that you can do to maximise your return.

If your inverter is in the loft, or the garage it's not convenient to keep popping out for a look. This is why I've been testing an energy monitor that tells you what your panels are doing.

The Wattson Solar Plus* measures both the energy produced by your solar panels and the energy used in your home or business. It displays the results using colours and numbers, so you can use either or both according to your preference.

If you are generating more electricity than you are using - net export - you can see at a glance as the unit glows green (or the box displays a negative number). A blue light indicates that you're using less than average, purple equals average, and if you're using more than average it throws out a bright red glow.

I've found it fascinating. Whenever the usage goes up a notch I start wondering what's on - especially when it goes into the red. I've learned that our so-called Eco Kettle gobbles up a lot of kWs. But the biggest surprise was how much the oven uses, and how often we use it. Having always been rather suspicious of microwaves, I'm suddenly becoming a convert.

The washing machine isn't as greedy as I expected, and on a sunny day, there are only brief periods when it's using more electricity than we're generating, where I'd expected it to be a heavy user for the whole cycle.

Mostly my Wattson sits in the kitchen, as it's from there that I notice most of the big energy uses. However, you can pick it up and take it from room to room, so you can see the impact of turning lights or the TV on and off.

Once you've got it set up it's really simple to use, but I found it quite difficult to set up. There's a clear picture of which cables you put all the clips round, but my cables had all been neatly hidden away in some trunking by my installer. Luckily an electrician friend called round while I was busy scratching my head about it, otherwise I'd have been stuck (he clipped them around cables on the other side of the fuse box, but without his help I wouldn't have been able to tell them apart).

For those of you who are keen on spreadsheets and like lots of figures, you can upload data from the Wattson to your computer using special Holmes software. I'm still getting used to this and will review it in a separate blog in a few weeks time.

*This is an affiliate link, which means that we get a small commission if you click through and buy the Wattson Solar Plus.

More information about Solar PV from YouGen

Solar PV information page

My electricity meter is running backwards, who is responsible?

Auto control enables use of solar PV with an immersion heater

How to get the most out of your solar generated electricity

 

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Comments

3 comments - read them below or add one

Cathy Debenham

Cathy DebenhamComment left on: 11 October 2012 at 1:03 pm

I guess my main tip would be to have the display near your main appliances, so you can just glance over before you put the washing on, for example, and see what's being generated. 

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EcoBoyAtHeart

EcoBoyAtHeartComment left on: 3 October 2012 at 1:02 pm

Hi Cathy, I've just ordered one of these and it should arrive tomorrow (good deal currently on USwitch if others are interested - 45% off). I'm hoping to use it like you've described for my own PV array. Any tips now you've had it in for a while?

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Glenfender

GlenfenderComment left on: 2 May 2012 at 11:27 pm

We have a Sunny Beam unit which shows how much you are generating at any one time and how much you have made in the day, and the day before etc.  Although I can't see how much we are using - we have had a Efergy monitor for several years so I have an idea of the usual figures on that - so reckon if we are generating over 2kw at any one time this should be enough for most uses during the day - barring boiling the kettle or having a ring on high.  We have set the timer switch for the dishwasher so that it runs after 11am rather than overnight which is what we used to do as we have off peak lecky.  Looking forward to getting our first quarter bill after installing the PV.

Will keep you posted!

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