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Deficiencies in AGL's Solar Command and ios Apps

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AGL’s Solar Command and IOS app require some serious development for them to be truly useful as analytical and informative tools in my opinion. I can imagine that a great many people who have opted for solar with battery storage are looking to save as much money as possible. To that end, companies like Solar Analytics, Wattwatchers, Fronius and SMA are providing sophisticated web platforms that enable customers to see graphical overlays of energy flows to and from the grid, to and from the battery, and even to specific appliances. All members of the AGL VPP have smart meters so AGL has access to what we import and export, but Solar Command does not allow us to see what is our own data, the better to make decisions about how and when we use energy.

 

The absence in Solar Command of battery status and exported and imported energy data in the CSV file download means I can’t do detailed time-based analysis to see, for example, exactly when we are importing all this unnecessary peak energy. I wrote to AGL about this in June 2017, but to date, not much has changed. The following are some of my comments as sent to AGL.

 

WEB SOLAR COMMAND PORTAL

 

  1. When accessing the Solar Command portal, the cursor is not active in the “Email Address” input box. This is such an obvious default condition that I am always very disappointed when web designers ignore it.
  2. In using Keepass, Solar Command does not recognise that the fields have been filled on the iPad or iPhone. A great many of us are likely to be using iPads these days, rather than PCs. This is important to those of us who use complex 20 character passwords in programs like Keepass. It can be fooled by adding a character to the end of each field and then deleting it, but that is just a workaround and not an elegant solution.
  3. The pdf accessed via the “Download Data” link does not show times on the x axis, and most importantly, does not show battery status.
  4. The csv data accessed via the “Download Data” link most importantly does not include battery status data, imported energy or exported energy.
  5. There is a “Reset Zoom” link on the portal when displayed on the iPad, but not when displayed on the PC. The only way I could find to reset the zoom on the PC was to choose another day and then wait while the day I was originally on reloaded.
  6. On the iPad, after zooming, and also then after “Reset Zoom”, vertical scrolling gets badly messed up, and will operate from some portions of the screen, but not others. It requires a refresh to work properly again.
  7. On the iPad, it is possible to have a vertical cursor on both the Power and Battery Status data, but the time axes are horizontally offset and not vertically in line.
  8. On the PC, it is NOT possible to have a vertical cursor on BOTH the Power and Battery Status data, and the time axes also appear to be horizontally offset and not vertically in line.
  9. There is no refresh button on the PC, and it doesn’t auto-update.
  10. I think the Battery Status graph should have a bigger y axis because battery behaviour is very important and I would like to see it in more detail.
  11. Clicking (or touching on the iPhone or iPad) way to the right of “What do these numbers mean?”, or way to the left of “Make this estimate more accurate >” activates their respective dialogs. They should be links where you need to click on the link only because if you try to clear a data point dialog and you do it by clicking, or touching, above the graph, you can easily, and unintentionally, bring up either of those dialogs. That applies across Day, Week, Month and Year displays.
  12. For Week, Month and Year displays, once a data point dialog has been opened, it can’t be removed by clicking, or touching, outside the graph area, as it can be for Day displays. It can only be removed by refreshing the entire page.

 

IOS AGL ENERGY APP

 

  1. The colours used for the graph lines are not strong enough in my opinion, and do not correlate enough to the labels and information icons below for “Produced Energy” and “Consumed Energy”. I think a more vivid green for “Produced Energy” and a red for “Consumed Energy” would be easier to see, and more appropriate, with possibly blue for the battery.
  2. I would like a battery graph to be included in this app. “Battery Status” data is essential to a complete picture in my opinion. I think it should be a line graph overlaid on the “Produced Energy” and “Consumed Energy” graph. I know it’s important not to clutter a graph, but with the right choice of colours and/or line formats, we could see everything without time offsets.
  3. A great many people use iPads today instead of computers, so I think AGL should have an iPad version of the app.
  4. I think you should be able to landscape the app, as you can with the PC portal.
  5. I would like to see a movable data cursor also, as in the web PC version.
  6. The app does not make any provision for downloading data, which, given Dropbox etc., seems a great shame.

 

COMMENTS

 

  1. The information I want to see on my iPad app is based around informing me of what I’m spending and what I’m saving. To this end I would like to see:
  • Energy produced by my solar panels
  • Peak energy imported from the grid
  • Off-peak energy imported from the grid
  • Energy exported to the grid
  • Energy flows to and from the battery
  • Battery status
  • Grid outage statistics, similar to the Sunverge Energy Platform

2. I would like the app to access my account’s tariffs and therefore provide me with accurate costs associated with b, c and d above, all on a daily weekly, monthly and annual basis.

 

3. I realise the above list may require at least one more CT to be installed for off-peak monitoring, but if offered, that is a price I would gladly pay because I am not currently getting what I want from Solar Command.

 

4. The cost of batteries is still so far from economic, even with the VPP subsidies, as my article on the AGL Community blog shows. If AGL are serious about encouraging solar battery uptake, which I believe they are, then I would suggest that AGL should put some serious effort and resources into an iPad app in order to differentiate the company in a very competitive market place. There are some very good reporting apps, such as Solar Analytics, and possibly Sunverge in America, but AGL’s Solar Command, in my opinion, is not one of them.

 

Please see my profile if you’d like to learn more about other articles I have written on solar energy and my participation in AGL’s Virtual Power Plant solar battery storage program.

1 REPLY 1
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Re: Some of the Deficiencies in AGL Solar Command and the ios App

AGL Moderator

Dear Richard,

 

Thank you for your taking the time to provide this detailed feedback!

 

There are some fantastic points here, and we'll ensure that this information is forwarded to our app developers for future reference.

 

Kind regards,

 

Jayden

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