A freely available app for monitoring the energy production of solar systems
The future of energy production will be green, less dominated by large energy suppliers than it is today and supported by sophisticated control technology. Solar systems will enable private households as well as small and medium sized companies to produce some of the energy they need on their own. However, practical and easy-to-use tools that give a comprehensive overview of how much energy a solar plant produces are still scarce. The Open Source Solarhouse App is a freely available technical solution that fills this gap.
An app that helps to keep an eye on the amount of energy that is produced is not only convenient; it also makes it easier to maintain and monitor the workings of a solar plant. For instance, using such an app makes it possible to configure the system without consulting a technician. On the other hand, it also possible that technicians monitor and operate the device without having to be present physically. Making full use of what the app offers can make solar plants more energy efficient and as a consequence more cost efficient as well.
Goals and Methods
A literature research was performed, to find out which applications for monitoring a solar plant are already available and whether there is room for improvement. To make the application as user-friendly as possible and “fun” to use, design-elements were integrated, that are usually found in computer games (i.e., gamification or gameful design) but often implemented in other applications as well (e.g., apps for language learning). An important aspect of the project is tailoring the features of the app to the needs of the users. For this reason, owners of solar plants and technicians were invited to participate in workshops, where they were introduced to the app and encouraged to voice their ideas and the problems they see. As the participants of these workshops had a hands-on experience with solar plants, they provided valuable insights, which helped to improve the app (i.e., user centred design).
Developing the app was a stepwise process including user feedback at each of the steps. This ensures that the app does not only meet high technical standards but also sets an example regarding usability and user-experience. The Open Source Solar is available here.
- ecoplus.Niederösterreich Wirtschaftsagentur GmbH (Lead)
- Forschung Burgenland GmbH
- FOTEC Forschungs- und Technologietransfer GmbH
- Austrian Blockchain Center
- IMC Fachhochschule Krems GmbH
- Fachhochschule St.Pölten