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anwmalos
Posts: 19
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:13 pm
Location: Greece
Contact: Website

Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Fri Jul 20, 2012 9:03 pm

Hello everyone,

For the past year or so I've been developing a tool to monitor solar panel installations. Until now this was a personal and not published project. Now it's in a good enough state to open up a little.

The project started with different embedded linux systems, and I was expecting raspi for a long time in order to make it work there - which I did. The result is a very inexpensive way to monitor a solar installation.

What I am looking for is contributors and "volunteers" in general to help me out in this project which still has a long way to go.

Now on to the technical stuff:
The project has 2 applications, a c++/linux (posix?) probing application and a LAMP server application that handles all the actual data processing and interfacing with the user. Right now the LAMP server runs on http://www.solarspy.net and is already online for some "friends and family" installations, some with rpi probes, and some not. It provides graphing and full installation history. The idea is to also add email/SMS reports and alerts in case of an error.

The probing application is designed in order to be able to easily add new inverter brands/protocols, data output interfaces (mysql/oracle/xml/json etc), physical interfaces (rs232, rs422, rs485, ethernet, bluetooth etc) and be configuration free, ie the application needs absolutely no configuration from the user, it just starts and knows what to do by itself. Right now the application supports all serial interfaces, 2 inverter brands (fronius, sustainable energy technologies) and mysql data output (xml on the way)

Where do you come in?
I need people with a raspi and a solar installation which they want to monitor. This way I will be able to test my software in more installations, get feedback, as well as have access to more inverter brands to continue developing. No development experience required, only a raspi. Access to the LAMP server will be free of charge.

Of course developers are more than welcome. I will be happy to find someone to collaborate in this, I would like to see "homemade" rs485/422 that connect directly on the raspi UART (right now it works on USB2serial only), help on the development of the LAMP app, the probing app, translations to more languages etc. I would also like to incorporate more sensors (hello hardware hackers) such as pyranometers, weather stations etc.

Disclaimer: I plan to release this project on a dual license. Everything is and will be free. However I will retain the copyright on the probing application and dual license it upon formal release on some open source license as well as a proprietary license. Everything else in this project other than the probing application will be fully open.

If any one is interested and has some free time to help out, I am available for details

tknows
Posts: 3
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2012 12:12 am

Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Sun Sep 16, 2012 12:36 am

Very cool project. I am hoping to get some panels in the next 6-12 months and this would be a really cool Pi project. I've subscribed to this thread but let me know if you setup a mailing list or blog or something.

t

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anwmalos
Posts: 19
Joined: Wed Nov 16, 2011 12:13 pm
Location: Greece
Contact: Website

Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Mon Sep 17, 2012 5:28 pm

Hi,

As you can see, there isn't much interest on the project so I am not planning on having any announcement schedule for now, mainly because I am selfish and lazy... :mrgreen:

Nevertheless, although the system is not ready for general consumption if you move with an installation of solar panels post a reply here or pm me and I will hook you up with the latest and greatest of the software.

Generally the system is pretty stable with 5-6 installations that run right now (1 with a pi) and although I still haven't added all the features I want, it's good enough for the job. Right now I am working on making the probe as modular as possible and slowly moving the scope of the project to more general data acquisition and monitoring.

ArkoXS
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:01 pm

Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Fri Sep 21, 2012 8:25 am

Hi it took me a while to find this project, after your comments on RasPiComm you got my attention.

I'm also looking for a way to use the Pi for monitoring my PV installation and also reading the Smart Meter data.

I've got the following installation:
- 12 PV panels, SMA Sunny Boy 2500HF
- Kampstrup 162JxC electricity meter

Regards,

Arko

TarjeiB
Posts: 157
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2012 3:33 pm

Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Fri Sep 21, 2012 12:03 pm

Hi,

I'm running a full time Solar powered Pi-installation and would love to be able to monitor it. There's no serial output on it as of now but I'll happily buy whatever is required to aquire some data from the solar setup.

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anwmalos
Posts: 19
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Location: Greece
Contact: Website

Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Sat Sep 22, 2012 3:23 pm

Hello everyone.

I have set up a mailing list so that those who are interested can exchange info. I do not have the time to set up a full time website, I hope this is enough. For more details please check out https://www.solarspy.net/solardev

@TarjeiB
Your setup is not the project's main focus because the focus right now is to get data from an already available source. Nevertheless if you find a way to monitor the power produced by the solar panels hardware wise, I think I will be able to help you with the rest. If you are not sure how to do that, post the details of your setup and will see further into it...

hotfoot
Posts: 1
Joined: Sun Sep 23, 2012 11:16 pm

Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Sun Sep 23, 2012 11:21 pm

Hey there.... Very interested in your project from a user testing point of view.

I have a 5k inverter using RS232 for comms. Would love to check your software out and provide feedback if at all possible.

Cheers

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anwmalos
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Location: Greece
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Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Mon Sep 24, 2012 6:59 am

Hello,
I'm happy to hear that. Please post some details about the inverter brand you use in order to see if it supported (probably not). If not then you probably have to give me access to your raspberry in order to develop for it. If you want, you can subscribe at the mailing list I posted in a previous post in order to work more closely on the matter.

TarjeiB
Posts: 157
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2012 3:33 pm

Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Mon Sep 24, 2012 9:22 am

anwmalos wrote: Your setup is not the project's main focus because the focus right now is to get data from an already available source. Nevertheless if you find a way to monitor the power produced by the solar panels hardware wise, I think I will be able to help you with the rest. If you are not sure how to do that, post the details of your setup and will see further into it...
I've ordered this which has specified "Communication TTL232 / 8 pin RJ45" so I hope I'll be able to get info from that.

My setup is very remote (5 hours away and not available by vehicle) and exlusively running on solar power so monitoring it for power levels and possible problems is very important.

I've made some project information here.

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anwmalos
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Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:18 am

@TarjeiB

Cool project! I checked your inverter and the company doesn't have any specifications about the communication. It is a bit strange that it mentions TTL232 and not RS232, be careful when you test it because if it uses TTL levels it might not be a very good idea to connect it to a standard serial port. I have a feeling that it has this RJ port just so you can connect the addon LCD screen they sell.

It would be a good idea to email them about the details of this.

eumaios
Posts: 1
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2012 12:11 pm

Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Mon Sep 24, 2012 12:26 pm

Hello

I am using the charge controller Tracer-4215RN (http://www.ev-power.eu/docs/pdf/GWL-REG ... Manual.pdf). Concerning data, it has a serial exit (RJ45 jack), which is normally used for the "MT-5"-accessory which displays system data. I have recently received the Raspberry PI. Now I ask myself how could I monitor the data from the serial exit with my Raspberry PI? Can you help?

Yours sincerely,

Daniel

CbeSolar
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:37 pm

Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:48 pm

I am very interested in this project. I am currently trying to interface a Outback power Mate (via RS232) to the RPI. I want to log the data to the SD card every 5 seconds.

My equipment:
Outback Power Mate
Outback Power GVFX3024E inverter
Raspberry Pi.

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anwmalos
Posts: 19
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Location: Greece
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Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Tue Sep 25, 2012 6:10 am

Hello everyone,
There is interest in this project for devices I didn't initially plan so I am not sure if I can personally commit to develop/integrate these devices as I am more oriented to on-grid PV inverters. Nevertheless, I'm in the process of finding a version control hosting solution (self hosted or github/sf etc) to upload the code. The next development from me will most probably be SMA inverters as they seem to be the most popular. I will also try to write a simple manual in order for others to be able to extend the probing application for their needs

@CbeSolar
The probing app will work for you but I have a feeling that it will be a little overkill to use an overengineered application for a relatively simple problem. Nevertheless, I've read the outback manuals and it shouldn't be too difficult to develop for them.

@eumaios
As I posted to TarjeiB, these inverters don't seem to have a documented communication protocol. If you can somehow find the protocol, then it should be possible to work with them.

jeremyroebuck
Posts: 8
Joined: Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:22 am

Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Tue Sep 25, 2012 10:24 am

I'd be happy to help test - 3.8kw system & SMA invertor with bluetooth
Jeremy

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anwmalos
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Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Tue Sep 25, 2012 2:10 pm

To everyone who wants SMA support:

I need one lucky volunteer who will have a raspberry pi and a bluetooth dongle (will discuss on which one later on) powered on 24/7 and at my disposal so I can connect through SSH and start developing/testing for SMA inverters. No raspis will be harmed during the development of the application (hopefully...)

CbeSolar
Posts: 7
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2012 10:37 pm

Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Thu Sep 27, 2012 4:57 am

anwmalos,

Yes, the simple probing should not be a problem. I do have one question though.
The outback mate communication manual says that the serial port on the mate is optically isolated from the system, and the power to the port is supplied by driving the DTR high and the RTS low. The simplest solution would be to use a usb-to-serial adapter.

Since the other end is not using TTL (optically isolated), does that mean that I need not worry about the level conversion from 3.3 to TTL? I could just connect the mate directly to the RPI, right?

I am writing some php and html code to serve the information from the RPI once I collect the data.

I appreciate your help.

KB
anwmalos wrote: ...
@CbeSolar
The probing app will work for you but I have a feeling that it will be a little overkill to use an overengineered application for a relatively simple problem. Nevertheless, I've read the outback manuals and it shouldn't be too difficult to develop for them.
...

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anwmalos
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Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Thu Sep 27, 2012 6:06 am

CbeSolar wrote:anwmalos,

Yes, the simple probing should not be a problem. I do have one question though.
The outback mate communication manual says that the serial port on the mate is optically isolated from the system, and the power to the port is supplied by driving the DTR high and the RTS low. The simplest solution would be to use a usb-to-serial adapter.

Since the other end is not using TTL (optically isolated), does that mean that I need not worry about the level conversion from 3.3 to TTL? I could just connect the mate directly to the RPI, right?

I am writing some php and html code to serve the information from the RPI once I collect the data.

I appreciate your help.

KB
Ok this is an interesting one. Isolated or not, it uses rs-232 levels not TTL so connecting it directly to the pi, would be a bad idea. If you wish to connect the inverter to the pi header pins, you need a converting IC like this one. The quickest way to do it is to get an addon board for the pi that has rs232 or use a usb to serial converter. However, you should be careful because this particular case needs DTR and RTS pins too, some converters (usually the cheap ones) don't have these pins connected so it might not work at all.

When you have the hardware, as the manual describes, you set DTR and ground RTS in order to supply power to the other side and start communicating.

I hope I didn't confuse you, if you have any questions, don't hesitate to ask

tasminracer
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Aug 24, 2012 8:52 am

Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Thu Sep 27, 2012 10:12 am

Hi, did you find anyone to work with sma?

I have a pi and a piglet board with rs485 and access to a variety of sma inverters and some other brands too.



Cheers

G

marcelr
Posts: 3
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2012 8:07 pm

Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Thu Sep 27, 2012 7:34 pm

Sounds like an interesting project.
I have a 4.3 kWp solar system with a Kostal inverter (with 10Mbit ethernet connection). The communication protocol is available from Kostal, under NDA :-(. I have it, made a datalogging application and since 2 days my Pi is happily logging my solar power plant. For presentation of the data, I want to use the PVdiary software as built by two flemish guys (Leslie and Thomas). Haven't got that to work, yet. You can find more info here:

http://users.skynet.be/betberge/pvdiary/

(In Dutch, I'm afraid). The code is pretty much restricted to SMA inverters only, but a small group of people (including me) is trying to make it more widely applicable.

Anyway, before you start building code from scratch, it might be a good idea to look around for existing projects, see what's to be learnt from them.

grtz,

marcelr

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anwmalos
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Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Fri Sep 28, 2012 6:03 am

Hello

Very cool project (even without understanding dutch). It's funny how many people in the world have the same problem and develop for it independently.

Thanks for the tip, I have already researched other projects and will look into them more as soon as I have access to an SMA inverter. Given that I am going on a different direction for my probing app (no cron job, continuously running daemon - self configuring etc) I think I have an extensive refactoring/rewriting job in front of me. The licenses of the projects are incompatible too.

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mntmst
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Location: Fairview, Oregon

Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Fri Sep 28, 2012 8:49 pm

I'm building a voltage/current solar data logger for Linux that uses the comedi device driver using the ni_daq_700 driver for development. I plan on making a daq_gert driver so the code can port easily to the PI. The main system controller runs on a PIC controller.
This guy has a PI SMA system monitor: https://github.com/stephendv/IslandManager

The main PIC controller code page: https://github.com/nsaspook/mbmc.git
The future gert driver page: https://github.com/nsaspook/nidaq700.git

mfleetwood
Posts: 1
Joined: Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:18 pm

Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:27 pm

I have a raspberry pi with bluetooth dongle and a 3Kw PV system using a SMA 3000 HF inverter.

I have tried to set it up using the instructions from http://ictoblog.nl/raspberry-pi/raspberrypi-pvoutput
but I don't think it supports my inverter although it does establish blue tooth communication. I don't have programming skills, but am happy to assist with your project.

I also have another PV setup which uses a Xantrex inverter with RS232.

mike.

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anwmalos
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Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Thu Oct 18, 2012 12:52 pm

probe project was published as open source: https://github.com/alxnik/fpd

If someone messes with the code or makes any changes, I would be happy to hear about it, as it has some known bugs that haven't been fixed yet. Also reminder on the mailing list @ https://www.solarspy.net/solardev for everyone who wants to talk about the probe without littering the forum. At some point I will publish the db schema that goes with the mysql plugin.

hawamahal
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Oct 20, 2012 7:53 pm

Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Sat Oct 20, 2012 7:56 pm

Hi

I have got a Xantrex 2.8 which is currently being monitored using a rs232 connection on a Windows XP PC and being uploaded live to pvoutput.org.

I am interested in trying this out but have very little or no linux knowledge. I want to achieve what i am currently doing by using raspberry pi.

What do i need to buy and what to do next.

Thanks

jensk
Posts: 2
Joined: Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:57 am

Re: Photovoltaic/solar systems monitoring

Mon Oct 22, 2012 8:00 am

I have aPi that I would like to log the output of my comming Solar installation.
The PV installation consists of 4000wp panels and a Solutronic SP35 inverter .
http://www.solutronic.de/files/daten/en ... nglish.pdf
http://www.solutronic.de/files/bedienun ... -20-06.pdf

It is arriving week 44 and should be up and running ometimes in week 45.

I am not a programmer but have 10+ years experience with linux. besides i tinker with a lot of things and could participate with testing, documentation etc.

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