Connecting anything to your LAN

I'm new to solar as anyone that has read my posts can tell but what I do have lots of experience with are computer networks and mounting system, both as a profession.

If it would be handy to have a sort of printed wizard to help folks setup a LAN (Local area network) with remote access to charge controllers, and such, chine in and I'll put it up here. I promise that it will not be techno babble butinstead a practical guide most should be able to follow with a high degree of success. I'll explain some things along the way to provide a common basis for questions and answers as things come up in whatever you might be trying to do. Not being a fan of any particular computer system, the information will be agnostic to whatever equipment you have although I do have some specific examples.

So let me know.

Comments

  • huntephuntep Registered Users Posts: 9 ✭✭
    Re: Connecting anything to your LAN

    Thanks Blue.. just the guy I wanted to talk to. How do you connect the XW4024 to the LAN switch and have it monitored from my computer?
    Is there a software client to install?
    Thanks..
  • bluewickedburnerbluewickedburner Solar Expert Posts: 78 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Connecting anything to your LAN
    huntep wrote: »
    Thanks Blue.. just the guy I wanted to talk to. How do you connect the XW4024 to the LAN switch and have it monitored from my computer?
    Is there a software client to install?
    Thanks..

    First you'll need the communications gateway if you want to use that gateway and the embedded web pages it uses along with data logging.

    Do you have that? The upgrade will have everything you need software wise. The connectivity from the gateway to a router is then something I can help with.

    Since you stated you have a switch and not a router does that mean you know the difference between the two?

    While my post was for connectivity and not product specific I can still help on this one. If you can just post the specs of your network layout and how you set it up we can go from there.
  • huntephuntep Registered Users Posts: 9 ✭✭
    Re: Connecting anything to your LAN

    I heard about the Gateway and Widgets stuff.. seems like a lot of horror stories though.
  • bluewickedburnerbluewickedburner Solar Expert Posts: 78 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Connecting anything to your LAN
    huntep wrote: »
    I heard about the Gateway and Widgets stuff.. seems like a lot of horror stories though.

    Yes, equipment that has built-in ethernet and embedded web servers are usually easy to work with and those with client software, widgets and 2nd device gateways are just potential problems.

    In this day and age, any piece of equipment like charge controllers, inverter/chargers should have ethernet connectivity and embedded servers for access to performance information and configuration settings. Building it in instead of making the customer buy hubs, remote meters and convert from serial to other connection types is really inexcusable. This isn't rocket science it should be the entry point for manufacture and design.

    When I look at the price of good charge controllers and inverter/chargers and see you need hubs, spaghetti cords and connections to get them to talk together and allow the user to just to turn on their computer or smartphone and have complete access to all data and configuration it makes me wonder.

    The cost to do this is minimal and shouldn't even move the price points these items are being sold for.
  • HuckMeatHuckMeat Registered Users Posts: 24
    Re: Connecting anything to your LAN

    The midnight controllers have built in ethernet. Most other vendors seem to subscribe to the monkey proprietary interfaces.

    midnight will be my next CC.
  • bluewickedburnerbluewickedburner Solar Expert Posts: 78 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Connecting anything to your LAN
    HuckMeat wrote: »
    The midnight controllers have built in ethernet. Most other vendors seem to subscribe to the monkey proprietary interfaces.

    midnight will be my next CC.

    I saw that too is why I decided to use them. We pay far too much money for dongels, and antiquated rs232 and or serial connections. I'm awaiting my shipment for the Midnight and although it is probably overkill for my needs I really liked the way they answered the phone with knowledgeable people, took time to explain features and such.

    I give Midnight Solar lots of kudos for treating potential customers right even if it is just general questions. I've emailed with a question and got very fast replies. That goes a long way for confidence building.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,151 admin
    Re: Connecting anything to your LAN

    The MorningStar TS 60 MPPT controller also has Ethernet too... However, there have been a couple threads here with people having difficulties configuring them to their networks.

    For some reason, some of this stuff seems to be more difficult than it should.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • RandomJoeRandomJoe Solar Expert Posts: 472 ✭✭✭
    Re: Connecting anything to your LAN

    This is one of my pet peeves - there are tons of "standards" to choose from, why would anyone implement a proprietary protocol?!? (Aside from the obvious greed - trying to lock in their customers.)

    At the very least, if you MUST implement your own protocol, provide the specs freely! That's the reason I chose Outback, they do have a document that clearly details the protocol so easy to make use of. I was leaning more toward Xantrex at the time, but (can't remember) either I couldn't get the protocol or had to sign NDA forms. No thanks...

    I'm not so picky about the interface, although Ethernet is certainly nice. My problem there is it's then tempting for the vendor to simply implement a web interface, I'd at least want a "raw" way for other devices / controllers to collect data and send commands. Again, lots of standards to choose from there!

    Probably the one I detest most is Enphase - making me pay to get at the data from my own devices? I think I read recently they are offering lifetime free access and even an API - but my understanding is that's still through their servers. I want direct access, not to rely on an Internet connection to a company's server that may or may not exist 15 years down the line...

    MidNite wasn't available at the time, that would probably be my choice if I were making the decision now. Heck, it even has Modbus, so could talk directly to my automation controller, no PC required at all... Nice! :)
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Connecting anything to your LAN

    just a different point of view: there are still a lot of us that , while it would be 'nice' we do not have nor wish to shell out the bucks for 'connectivity' to the net, BUT still would like to access that data, as RandomJoe said, from device direct to CPU or other data collection device.
    From what I have read the MidNite Classic CC does that in several ways, my hat is off to them.. It will be my next CC...

    cheers
    Eric
     
    KID #51B  4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM
    CL#29032 FW 2126/ 2073/ 2133 175A E-Panel WBjr, 3 x 4s 140W to 24V 900Ah C&D AGM 
    Cotek ST1500W 24V Inverter,OmniCharge 3024,
    2 x Cisco WRT54GL i/c DD-WRT Rtr & Bridge,
    Eu3/2/1000i Gens, 1680W & E-Panel/WBjr to come, CL #647 asleep
    West Chilcotin, BC, Canada
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