I added to my solar monitoring systems over the Christmas break. I’ve already built a Solax WordPress Plug-in. The plugin corrects the data from our inverter and displays that info and lots of other data on our website.
I wanted to see this data on a constantly active screen in the kitchen too. So, I resurrected an old iPad mini that we weren’t using. I then built a new webpage that displayed just the info we wanted to see. I built it in such a way that it fits perfectly on the iPad mini screen. It also updates automatically. So, with the iPad mini plugged in and set not to sleep we have an always on solar monitoring screen in the kitchen. It shows plenty of data too.
Voice Controlled Solar Monitoring
The fact that we had an Amazon Echo Dot for Christmas got me playing with voice commands too. I thought about creating an Alexa skill to tell us the status of the solar panels. That didn’t seem very straight forward so instead I built one using Siri.
So, if I ask Siri on my phone or any other Siri enabled device what our solar status is she’ll respond with live data along the lines of: “The solar panels are generating 597 watts. The total yield today is 1.357 kilowatt hours. The battery is 51 percent charged”
Building a voice activated solar monitoring system
It wasn’t that difficult to do. First I built a new webpage. This contained a script that queried the database I used for the main solar panel pages, which in turn is populated by data retrieved from the Solax API. The script then created a web page that contained nothing but the text I wanted Siri to read back to me. The live data was obviously inserted into this text.
I then created a simple Shortcut in the Apple Shortcuts app. This couldn’t have been a simpler app. All it did was retrieve the content of the webpage I’d built. It then simply read that content out loud. The shortcut was set to be triggered by a voice command.
Now, wherever in the world I happen to be I can simply ask my phone what the status of our solar panels are and it will tell me!!