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Smart remote monitoring can thwart solar panel thieves

Home Infrastructure Energy – Power Generation Smart remote monitoring can thwart solar panel thieves

THE use of a decentralised network, based on long-range low-power technologies, has proliferated across the country and enabled the internet of things (IoT) devices to be used for remote monitoring of everything from temperature to air quality and most recently tracking devices.

A large operator of the platform with over 100 base stations throughout the country, Lighter Than Air Network, is providing tailor-made solutions specifically for the prevention of solar panel theft. According to the company’s general manager, Kian Campling, the solutions are based on industrial applications which are used to monitor and track anything from fresh produce to earthmoving machines, gas bottles, pallets and more.

Battery life

“Probably the biggest advantage our devices have over other GSM-based IoT devices is the low battery consumption which can last months and years rather than days as required by traditional GSM devices. This also overcomes the size challenge as manufacturers can install comparatively tiny batteries allowing for discreet trackers that can be hidden among wiring or behind a cover.

“Some of our devices are not much bigger than a credit card and have the added advantage of relaying information, such as the orientation of equipment, movement and temperature to the user via computer or mobile device. The temperature application may even be valuable to solar operators to gather information about solar panel performance and safety in the event of a fire.

“It also puts the power of tracking in the hands of the owner as they can choose to use a security service provider, take their own steps or use both in the event of an alarm. For example, if a panel changes its orientation or an inverter is moved, then clearly there is a problem that needs an intervention. Depending on the type of alarm, it may indicate a possible theft event, fire or storm damage,” says Campling.

Pinpoint tracking

“If the panels are stolen they can be accurately tracked and live locations transmitted for several months in the unlikely event that they are hidden out of network coverage. Some of the devices combine GSM, triangulation and other technologies to ensure tracked items can be found.

“There are many different solutions and depending on the application we may suggest one or another of our technologies. Due to the relative simplicity of the technology, prices are also very reasonable and are less than half the price of a single solar panel.

“Considering that most users will not monitor each-and-every panel or device, the cost of monitoring a solar system will be a tiny fraction of the cost of the system,” explains Campling

Low cost

Lighter Than Air Network also has its own proprietary monitoring software that enables larger users to monitor multiple sensors, including standalone security sensors, energy meters, smoke detectors, temperature, air quality and weather.

Its proprietary NviroSense software is unique and provides users with a powerful monitoring and control suite to manage IoT networks. It is also well suited to incorporate into control rooms and operations offices.

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