Wireless transmission of metering data from a photovoltaic solar home system via global systems for mobile communication (GSM) short message service (SMS)
This paper focuses on the area of remote solar home system metering in an effort to bridge solar energy management in the industry with information technology (IT). A wireless platform was designed using ordinary mobile phone handsets to relay real time digital metering data from a remote PV solar home system via a GSM short message services to a central server (private computer). Here, we experimentally demonstrate the concept of a wireless data transmission of digital direct current (DC) metering data, based on simple and cost‐effective telecommunication technologies through programmed microcontroller circuits that connects to two mobile phones (client and server sets). A set of data was obtained through direct cable connection (meter‐adaptor‐PC) and also through wireless connection (meter‐GSM‐adaptor‐PC). The microcontroller at the server end extracted and decoded data from the received SMS (for wireless connection) and relayed the data to the data adaptor. The applications software in the PC downloaded the data from data adaptor and grouped it into clusters. Statistical graphs were plotted from the clustered data and real time virtual metering data was displayed at the PC. From the results, data received from the wireless transmission mode matched the real time data on the meter display but with short time lapses due to SMS delivery delays. The data from direct cable connection was highly reliable because data streamed live from the meter to the data adaptor. It was also observed that the GSM‐SMS was practical to the extent that programming errors were eliminated and the network is reliable enough to reduce data transmission inefficiencies. Further work on a dedicated, efficient, and an all‐in‐one meter with wireless transmission capabilities is required for wide scale adoption of the technology. This technology can find applications in off‐grid electrification where investors can sell power through aggregated solar home systems instead of establishing grid connected solar farms. Solar energy can also be quantified to qualify for clean development mechanisms so as to benefit from carbon finances.
Key words: PV solar home system, DC power meter, GSM, data adaptor software