A PV system on a 6-inch screen

Solaranlage auf sechs Zoll

Benjamin Blaurock and his team developed two apps at the same time last year: SMA 360° is a digital all-purpose tool to support installers in their daily business. With SMA Energy, plant operators keep an eye on their energy system at all times and can charge their electrical vehicle intelligently. In this interview, he talks about the launch of the mobile applications, what new features will soon be available and when intelligent energy management will be possible with SMA Energy.

 

SMA-360° Iphone

The PV professional’s digital all-purpose tool: SMA 360° provides mobile repair instructions for servicing applications.

What are the differences between the SMA 360° and SMA Energy apps?

SMA 360° supports solar power professionals in the three areas of Planning & Simulation, Monitoring and Service. For this purpose, we have taken our established tools for system planning, commissioning and system monitoring and combined them in one digital universal tool. With this tool, we can offer solar power professionals comprehensive support, all the way up to providing the right repair instructions for servicing applications.

SMA Energy is an app for system operators. With this app, we are linking the energy transition at home with the shift toward electric vehicles on the road. The aim is to get everything to do with energy across as clearly and simply as possible. System operators can visualize data for their PV systems, use recommendations for economical energy supply to optimize their energy flows and even make use of smart charging for their electric vehicles. Ideally, of course, using solar power from their own systems. 😊

We have also integrated a news function that can help keep users informed about important developments relating to renewable energy. After all, the energy transition affects all of us.

 

To start with, many system operators also downloaded SMA 360° but couldn’t get anywhere with it. There was already a sense of annoyance building about that.

That’s right. We should have done a better job of communicating that the app for end customers wouldn’t be coming along until later. We are of course very sorry for confusing system operators like that at first. Despite that, it was a very valuable experience for us. That is because the feedback from system operators demonstrated just how much demand there is for such an app. That gave us an extra boost of motivation in the development process.

One thing that was absolutely imperative for us with SMA Energy was that we wanted to make it possible to charge your electric car efficiently with solar power from your own system, because only then is the process truly sustainable. With the SMA EV Charger, we have integrated an entirely new product into the system chain. That was a challenge. There were a few issues along the way, but it was definitely worth it in the end. That’s what we’re hearing from customers as well, and that’s the best endorsement there is.

 

By the way, what are you doing with the feedback from users?

Most of the feedback is very constructive. We know how important that is, because it helps us optimize both apps. Ultimately, of course, it needs to speak the language of as many customers as possible. We may not be able to accommodate every request, but we are constantly working on development. We are already going to be implementing some important and frequently submitted feedback in the next release in February.

 

SMA-360° Iphone

Everything in the flow: with SMA Energy plant operators keep an eye on the energy system at all times.

What exactly are the new features?

With SMA 360°, we have integrated the link to live data and now also consider more customized electricity rates for more accurate cost-effectiveness calculations on different markets. We are also enabling additional rooftop positioning in planning. For example, east–west orientations can now be simulated as well.

For SMA Energy, we have also adjusted the way that diagrams are shown, presenting them in landscape format so that they are always available full-screen on the display. That means that it is also possible to access specific figures on generation, consumption and grid feed-in via the diagram. The integration of the SMA EV Charger is also now a smoother process. There have been a few snags in this respect. Sometimes, though, that is partly due to the configuration of the user’s system or smartphone, which is of course not something that the app can resolve, but instead calls for servicing.

 

When will system operators be able to manage their energy systems with SMA Energy?

We are planning to incorporate smart energy management this year. Initially, it will be possible for the first time to visualize individual loads such as washing machines and dishwashers and to manage switchable loads.

The second step will be to integrate key configuration settings for the Sunny Home Manager into the app. Users will then be able to tailor their self-consumption even more specifically to their own needs, no matter where they are.

 

SMA-360° Iphone

Established applications combined intelligently: SMA 360° supports PV professionals in the areas of Planning & Simulation, Monitoring and Service.

International markets differ significantly. How does this affect the further development of the apps?

That means that we can’t just have one app for all markets, but instead need to make local adjustments. One example is the commissioning process. We are currently working on an app-based version of this and seeing that as a target group, installers have widely varying requirements depending on where they are in the world.

While in Europe, an installer will install and commission a system from start to finish, there are markets such as the U.S. in which these are frequently separate jobs, with one skilled person dealing with electrical installation and connecting the system to the local utility grid and another then taking over to configure the components – sometimes remotely! In other words, we need different levels of communications and functions depending on the area. Our goal is a simple and comprehensive commissioning assistant that provides step-by-step guidance through the commissioning of the complete system.

 

What’s next for mobile applications?

Smartphones and tablets are getting more powerful all the time. Many new and, in some cases, very specialist possible uses are being created for them. I am very interested in new technologies such as virtual and augmented reality and how to integrate them into the existing range. For example, SMA could provide live support for an installer carrying out repairs on an inverter.
And people who are interested in a solar power system, could use their smartphones to quickly visualize modules on their roofs and calculate their potential savings. Things like that produce interesting links that my team and I are always happy to work on developing. We certainly have no shortage of ideas and our customers have a lot to look forward to.
😊

 

 

About Ben

As an industrial engineer specializing in mechanical engineering, Ben has already occupied a number of international roles at SMA. After a brief interlude working in tire development, he returned to the world of sustainable energy to work on mobile applications. Developing the app also inspired Ben to study technology and innovation management. His forthcoming master thesis also deals with the topic, and in it, he will be addressing the issue of gathering and studying the consequences of user-centered customer feedback as it relates to digital products.

You are a plant operator and want to keep an eye on your solar plant?

 

You are an installer and are looking for a digital universal tool that supports you professionally in your daily work?

6 Comments
  1. Avatar
    Krzysztof Kucharski says:

    When will the SMA 360 application be available in Poland? Sunny Portal on the phone is a total failure. Cheap Chinese products have a better phone app.

    Reply
    • Christiane Keim
      Christiane Keim says:

      Hello Krzysztof,

      The SMA 360 App as well as the SMA Energy app will be available in local language in Poland next week (CW9).
      We are currently preparing the market launch.

      Sunny regards
      Christiane

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Krzysztof Kucharski says:

        Hello Christiane,
        thank you very much for your reply.
        in that case, I can’t wait :-).
        Kind regards,
        Krzysztof

  2. Avatar
    Krzysztof Kucharski says:

    Yesterday I asked a question which the moderator instead of answering, deleted it. I ask again when the SMA 360 application will be available in Poland? The current version of Sunny Portal is catastrophically weak. Cheap Chinese producers have better apps.

    Reply
    • Christiane Keim
      Christiane Keim says:

      Hello Krzysztof,

      We will never delete questions here on our SMA Blog.
      But please allow some time before we get back.
      As you see, your question is answered.
      In case you need further assistance, you are welcome to get back to us.

      Best regards
      Christiane

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Krzysztof Kucharski says:

        Hello Christiane,

        my question has disappeared for few days, therefore I wrote again. Now it’s ok.
        Thank you very much for your kind assistance.

        Kind regards,
        Krzysztof

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