SunReports, which offers monitoring of photovoltaics and solar hot water systems, recently got a bit more social. The company created a Facebook app allowing its customers to automatically post the production of their solar systems online. The app is configurable to update as often as the system owner wants, monthly, weekly or daily.
The app is a way to make more people aware of solar power, said SunReports CEO Thomas Dinkel.
“What we’re trying to do is raise the awareness of solar,” he said. “Most people are online most of the time. If they’re going to be on the web, they’re going to be on Facebook.”
By harnessing the networking powers of Facebook, people with solar installations can show their friends how well their system is performing.
“If they’ve gone solar, then their friends are also apt to go solar,” he said. “We’re stimulating the dialog around it, and we think it will lead to higher solar adoption around their peer group.”
And the app doesn’t only expose residents to the concept, but also companies in the industry.
“The other part of the feature is that the auto-post onto Facebook carries the branding of installer and system manufacturers,” Dinkel said. “All branding disappears after the system is installed. Even though the panel manufacturers and whatnot spend a huge amount on branding, it’s kind of the only enduring branding for installers.”
For people interested in going solar, it’s a tool to help them choose an installer.
“If the friends of the person auto-posting sees the system’s performance and they trust their judgement, they will likely click on the installer’s link and [choose them] just for that friend’s connection,” he said.
The company’s reporting services rely on an aftermarket device that connects to a solar system and the system owner’s router, Dinkel said. The system then reports back to SunReports’ servers and is then sent to the installer and the homeowner, both of which can log in and check out the performance of the system.
The installer’s view is more detailed than the system owner’s, because SunReports has found that system owners generally don’t want the same level of information as the installers do.
Owners can purchase a SunReports photovoltaic monitoring device for $599 and five years of monitoring for $199, according to Dinkel.
“More and more installers are using the SunReports systems. They may not break out the cost of device in the offering,” he said. They’ll include it as part of the service package for the system.