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Old 07-12-18, 09:53 AM   #1
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Default Simple Solar Instrumentation





Last summer, I built a 6.24kW solar array on my garage. It uses Enphase micro-inverters. Overall, I love it EXCEPT that there's no real-time power display!

The system uses power line communications for the individual micro-inverters to talk to an internet gateway called the "Envoy". That in turn feeds data out to Enphase's servers, where I can check my power production.

In fact, you can see my power production too. Look at it here: https://enlighten.enphaseenergy.com/...ms/PqBp1213167

However, the Envoy itself doesn't have a display on it. (It has a few LEDs indicating power, communications, etc., but not how much power I'm making.)

So, I set to work to add a basic Ammeter/Voltmeter to my setup. I bought one off Amazon for about $20, which comes with a current transducer. That's one of those ferrite rings with two wires coming off of it.

I turned off all the power, disconnected one of the solar power leads from the load-side connection breaker and slipped on the Current Transducer, then hooked it up again.

On the side of my breaker panel, I knocked out a 1/2" hole and connected a 4" metal box with a 1/2" conduit spacer.

I took a single-gang metal cover and ground away most of the tabs that would normally mount the screws for a switch or outlet. That made the hole in the cover almost exactly the right size for the panel meter.

The meter also needs power to operate. Instead of tapping power off some other circuit, I added a plain 15A dual-pole breaker dedicated to it, and then ran a pair of 14 awg stranded wires from the new breaker into the 4" box.

The multimeter has 4 screw-down terminals, 2 for the signal wires from the current transducer, and two for power. I made the connections, snapped the panel meter in place in the cover, and then screwed down the cover.

I turned the power on. Other than realizing how easy it is to install the meter upside-down, everything looked good. I re-installed the panel right-side-up, and called it a day.

With the power back on, I can now see in real-time Voltage, Current, Power, and Energy on the display. It's basically a permanently mounted 240V Kill-a-Watt. I like the blue backlight. Looks nice and is very easy to read.

More details at my blog: https://300mpg.org/2018/07/09/solar-monitoring/

I was also on Facebook and another user on a group there reminded me about PVOutput.org. It's a web page which you can push solar production data to, and then share from. I looked at it a while back, and meant to get back to it.

So, last night, I dug through and figured out how to get my Enphase Envoy to send data out to that web page. (I don't even know what an API is, but if it works, it works!)
You can now see live system data from my garage at: https://pvoutput.org/intraday.jsp?id=67934&sid=60383

What's neat about that is it's non-proprietary, and data can be pulled and displayed in different ways on web pages, shared, etc.

So, I now have a real-time meter in my garage which responds INSTANTLY to changes in power production AND a new way to add a solar production output graph to my blog!

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Old 07-12-18, 01:25 PM   #2
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Looks good.
You can login to the IP address of your Envoy. (You probably know this)
I have the older Envoy that shows how many microinverters are communicating and the output power being made.



I do like PVoutput it is a great way to share your solar output.
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Old 07-18-18, 06:07 PM   #3
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I've got two generations of the older Envoy with a display (one in FL, one in Maine). One can use a USB wifi stick to communicate, the other will not recognize it due to the age of the unit.

I'm also quite familiar with those display units Ben used, and that's a great implementation of how to use one.

I need to play in the world of API's one of these days...
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Old 07-18-18, 08:41 PM   #4
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I know! The OLDER Envoy HAD an LCD display on it, and the newer one (which I have,) DOESN'T!

In what world does it make sense to have FEWER options and information?!

Again, I love all the data I can get through the software, but I really just wanted a real-time display. That's it. Is that too much to ask for!?!?
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Old 07-19-18, 09:09 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bennelson View Post
...but I really just wanted a real-time display. That's it. Is that too much to ask for!?!?
Would it not be possible to put a raspberry pi or arduino device on the network to query the API or envoy? I know both Pi's and Arduinos are available with wireless networking these days.

My envoy in FL lives in the laundry room, despite having the LCD display. Unfortunately, the whole envoy device isn't particularly suited for hanging on a wall for everyone to see. I'd love to have a better display front end for PV output. The TED5000 I have was intended to act as a better display, but it has some shortcomings...
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Old 07-19-18, 09:29 PM   #6
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Yes, you can have an internet device ping the Envoy for data, but it's still not real-time. It's five minute increment posts at best. And then that's actually an average of the power over that amount of time.

It all depends on what you are doing. If you want to track data, or if what the sun was doing 5 or 15 minutes ago is good enough for your application, then yes, pinging the Envoy through API works great.

Frankly, about the only thing I know about API is that it's a way to get data somewhere else. Still, I did manage to stumble my way through the settings to pull data from the Envoy and post it to PVOutput.org. I need to play around with that some more.

https://pvoutput.org/intraday.jsp?sid=60383

I would be fun to have just a giant display to put on your wall which simply shows how much solar power you are making right now. Seems totally doable with a micro-controller and wireless.

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