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A Checklist for PV System Monitoring

Didier Thevenard
Numerical Logics Inc.

Michael M.D. Ross
CANMET Energy Diversification Research Laboratory

Gordon Howell
Howell-Mayhew Engineering, Inc.

Full Text of Article
Link to Numerical Logics Inc.
Link to CETC-Varennes
Link to Howell-Mayhew Engineering
Link to SESCI (conference)

Note on Authorship:

This article was jointly authored by Dr. Didier Thevenard of Numerical Logics Inc.; Michael M.D. Ross, formerly of the CANMET Energy Diversification Research Laboratory (now known as CETC-Varennes), and now principal of RER Renewable Energy Research; and Gordon Howell, of Howell-Mayhew Engineering Inc.


This paper is dedicated to the memory of Prof. Muthu Chandrashekar (1937-1998), director of the Watsun Simulation Laboratory at the University of Waterloo.


Thevenard, Didier, Michael Ross, and Gordon Howell. "A Checklist for PV System Monitoring". Renewable Energy Technologies in Cold Climates: Proceedings of the 24th Annual Conference of the Solar Energy Society of Canada, Montréal, Québec, Canada: May 4-6, 1998, pp. 273-278.


Monitoring a photovoltaic system is not conceptually difficult, yet many monitoring projects fail to achieve their objectives: often essential variables are not monitored, improper installation or calibration invalidates results, the budget includes insufficient funds for proper data analysis, or data files are lost. This need not be the case: with proper care monitoring can be done correctly.

This article presents practical guidelines that should improve a monitoring project's chances of success. Emphasis is placed on the planning and design of the monitoring project. Once the desired outcomes of the project have been identified, then the variables to be monitored, the duration of averaging periods, the length of the project, and the budget for the project can be determined. Documentation of the system and all changes made to the system is essential, as is the choice of an appropriate time base and data format. Guidelines for data analysis and error analysis are detailed, and some special considerations for cold climates are listed.

Following these guidelines will require additional time and effort initially, but will greatly increase the reliability of the data and the confidence of the results.