With the growing number of people embracing solar power with solar panel installations, it’s necessary to shed light on a different kind of energy—the data your solar system generates.
Data protection wasn’t a huge concern back when Australians began to adopt solar, given that only a few systems were deployed and most solar inverters did not communicate for control or monitoring. However, times have changed—every day, new solar panels are installed on properties across the nation. It should also be noted that advancements in solar technologies continue to evolve.
There are always two sides to a story; and despite the advantages of solar panels today, it comes with risks.
If you’re interested in exploring solar options for your property, consider seeking free solar quotes from us to make decisions aligned with both environmental consciousness and data protection.
The types of data generated by solar panels and associated technologies
Solar panels in Australia today not only transform sunlight into energy but they also generate a wealth of data to enhance your solar experience. This multifaceted data encompasses various dimensions, and provides insights into different aspects of your solar system:
- Energy production data: This includes details of the amount of energy your solar panels generate. It delivers real-time data and historical records of energy production, helping in performance analysis.
- Energy consumption patterns: This involves information on when and how you consume energy. The patterns help you understand your usage habits, allowing better decisions to improve the efficiency of your solar system.
- System health metrics: These are vital indicators of your solar setup’s overall health and functionality. They are obtained from components, such as solar inverters and monitoring devices.
- Smart technologies contribution: The integration of advanced technologies into devices amplify the scope of data collection. With this, it enhances capabilities to monitor, control and optimise your system’s performance.
The potential risks
There are many ways a hacker can get into your solar system. A good example is the outdated and unsecured software of an inverter, which makes it vulnerable to hackers. There are also some instances where an attacker could embed code in an inverter that could spread malware into the solar system.
When we talk about the data generated by your solar panels. It’s necessary to be aware of potential risks that may come with it. Here are some of the key considerations:
- Privacy concerns: Your energy consumption patterns reveal details about your everyday activities. Unintended exposure to this information may impact your privacy. For one, it can exploited by advertisers or entities. Another one is that it can potentially be misused to impersonate you or gain unauthorised access to other accounts.
- Unauthorised access: Hackers or unauthorised users who gain access to your energy data can lead to privacy breaches.
Microgrids are local power systems that operate independently of the larger grid in case of a power outage. However, they can also be a target for cyberattacks.
How to protect yourself
While the risk of exposure to data hacking is minimal, there are a number of ways to protect yourself from any potential threat.
Install quality and well-known products
Reputable solar manufacturers invest in R&D to better protect their customers. Installing well-known and quality systems will ensure that your inverter is equipped with the latest technology and support. Energy Matters recommends the following inverter manufacturers:
Establish strong and unique passwords for your solar system accounts, avoiding easily guessable information. Consider a combination of letters, numbers and symbols. You can also enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for more security. Ensure that you update and manage your account credentials periodically.
Regular software updates and firmware patches
Allow automatic updates when possible to receive the latest security patches. Stay informed about updates and patches through communications from your solar system provider.
Secure Wi-Fi networks connected to solar monitoring systems
Set a stronger password to your Wi-Fi network to prevent unauthorised access. Allow for WPA3 or WPA2 encryption to secure data transmission. You can also set up a separate guest network for IoT devices, including solar monitoring systems, to isolate them from your main network.
The future trends in solar data protection
As you explore ways to stay protected and secure, it doesn’t hurt to stay informed about the future trends in solar data protection. The future of solar data protection is closely tied to emerging technologies. Innovations, such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) are expected to play an important role.
These technologies can enhance anomaly detection, allowing for the quick identification of irregularities in energy consumption patterns.
As the solar industry continues to evolve, so will the regulatory landscape. Anticipated changes in regulations will likely address the growing complexities of data protection in solar systems.
Therefore, expect amendments to existing privacy laws and the introduction of specific standards catering to the unique challenges posed by solar-generated data. The focus will likely be on finding a balance between promoting innovation and safeguarding consumer privacy.
Cybersecurity measures will become more sophisticated, adapting to new threats and vulnerabilities. Encryption protocols and authentication methods will evolve to meet higher standards of security. Also, the development of standardised frameworks for secure data sharing and interoperability among solar systems will contribute to a more interconnected yet secure energy landscape.
Taking care of your solar data is as important as getting the energy of the sun. As technology grows and rules change, staying aware and making smart choices will keep your solar journey bright and secure.
Energy Matters has over 17 years of experience in the solar industry and has helped over 40,000 Australian households in their journey to energy independence.
Complete our quick Solar Quote Quiz to receive up to 3 FREE quotes from trusted local installers – it’ll only take you a few minutes and is completely obligation-free.