Battery Monitor System and Remote Monitoring

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mjp24coho
mjp24coho Solar Expert Posts: 104 ✭✭✭
I know there have been a lot of discussions on this board - I've read through them all and tried to use that information to select the right battery bank monitor setup for my system, but still need some advice. With my specs/needs below, I'm hoping you all can provide me suggestions.

1. This set up is for a remote offgrid cabin. My battery bank is in a garage 100' from the cabin

2. The bank is powered by (2) separate Morningstar MPPT solar charge controllers

3. I'd like the battery meter to be placed inside the cabin, to monitor the batteries in the garage

4. I use my batteries to power a remote camera system that I monitor over the Internet from home when I'm not at the cabin. I'm only there once a month, so I really need to be able to monitor three things related to my system when I'm not there: (1) total power produced, combined from both charge controllers, (2) total power consumed, and (3) battery state of charge.

5. I need to be able to monitor the system remotely via the Internet (over my constantly-on 3G connection and router). I don't have a PC always on at the cabin.

With those specs and needs, any suggestions on the simplest setup? Thanks!

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  • BB.
    BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 33,479 admin
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    Re: Battery Monitor System and Remote Monitoring

    You might like to contact the poster here "Tall Girl":

    Julie in Texas
    greenMonitor(tm) for Morningstar, OutBack and SMA from greenHouse Computers.

    I have not seen any simple Internet integrated stand-alone battery monitors.

    Also, I would talk with Midnite Solar--They seem to be heading down the road of full integration (perhaps you can beta test something).

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • Photowhit
    Photowhit Solar Expert Posts: 6,003 ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Battery Monitor System and Remote Monitoring

    I think the Bogart Pentametric will do what you want.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Magnum MS4024, Prosine 1800(now backup) and Exeltech 1100(former backup...lol), 660 ah 24v Forklift battery(now 10 years old). Off grid for 20 years (if I include 8 months on a bicycle).
    - Assorted other systems, pieces and to many panels in the closet to not do more projects.
  • mtdoc
    mtdoc Solar Expert Posts: 600 ✭✭
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    Re: Battery Monitor System and Remote Monitoring

    Which Morningstar CC's do you have? I think the Tristars have the ability to communicate with a computer via RS-232 and/or ethernet and log and display data with Morningstar software. I don't now if it has remote (via internet) access capabilty built in but if not you could run it onsite on an inexpensive, low power netbook or laptop and access that remotely using VNC.

    I use the free Ultra VNC (http://www.uvnc.com) to remotely monitor my system this way (I have an Outback/Midnite system so I run Wattplot and Midnites local app on the on site computer).
  • mjp24coho
    mjp24coho Solar Expert Posts: 104 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Battery Monitor System and Remote Monitoring

    I'm currently using the Morningstar Sunsaver MPPT controllers. I've thought about having a small computer left there onsite, but I'm trying to minimize watt consumption as much as I can.
  • inetdog
    inetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Battery Monitor System and Remote Monitoring
    mjp24coho wrote: »
    I'm currently using the Morningstar Sunsaver MPPT controllers. I've thought about having a small computer left there onsite, but I'm trying to minimize watt consumption as much as I can.

    A very low power laptop (such as the XO from the OneLaptopPerChild project) would not be particularly noticeable, even with the wi-fi interface running. But a commercial computer would be another thing.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • mjp24coho
    mjp24coho Solar Expert Posts: 104 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Battery Monitor System and Remote Monitoring

    I'm not familiar with those - what is the typical watt consumption (wifi off, hard-wired to the router)? My system is very minimal - its used just to power my remote monitoring system and wifi card, and a DC booster pump when I'm there.
  • inetdog
    inetdog Solar Expert Posts: 3,123 ✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Battery Monitor System and Remote Monitoring

    From very old Wikipedia reference : "The laptop design specification goals are consumption of about 2 W of power during normal use, far less than the 10 W to 45 W of conventional laptops.[15] With build 656, power consumption is between 5 and 8 watts measured on G1G1 laptop. Future software builds are expected to meet the 2-watt target."

    You can get close to that with a selected notebook computer or netbook as long as you keep the display turned off. The router will consume more power.
    SMA SB 3000, old BP panels.
  • mtdoc
    mtdoc Solar Expert Posts: 600 ✭✭
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    Re: Battery Monitor System and Remote Monitoring

    I use a HP mini 110 netbook bought used on ebay for about $120. With the screen and drive turned off it consumes somewhere around 10 watts. Not as low power as the one mentioned by inetdog, but not too bad. USB and Ethernet ports. Runs Windoze. :blush:

    I believe GreenMonitor mentioned by BB sells a proprietary box that may do what you need and consumes less than 10 watts. More $$ though .
  • Photowhit
    Photowhit Solar Expert Posts: 6,003 ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Battery Monitor System and Remote Monitoring

    The problem with charge controller based reference is that they don't measure power used, only power generated, and then you have to combine the two controllers (which might be doable), but a battery monitor willl measure the three aspects he's looking for... Though you could likely extrapolate if the battery was fully charged on a given day.
    Home system 4000 watt (Evergreen) array standing, with 2 Midnite Classic Lites,  Midnite E-panel, Magnum MS4024, Prosine 1800(now backup) and Exeltech 1100(former backup...lol), 660 ah 24v Forklift battery(now 10 years old). Off grid for 20 years (if I include 8 months on a bicycle).
    - Assorted other systems, pieces and to many panels in the closet to not do more projects.
  • mjp24coho
    mjp24coho Solar Expert Posts: 104 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Battery Monitor System and Remote Monitoring

    Thanks all for the responses. After considering it all and doing more research, it looks like the PentaMetric system may be the best option (with the data input unit, readout unit, and Ethernet Internet interface). If anyone has had any experience with that system, I would appreciate any input. Thanks.
  • mtdoc
    mtdoc Solar Expert Posts: 600 ✭✭
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    Re: Battery Monitor System and Remote Monitoring

    Good point Photowhit about needing more than a CC based monitor. You do need a true shunt based battery monitor to get the info he needs. I use the Flexnet DC which serves this purpose for Outback systems.

    The Pentametric is no doubt a very good choice for this task but won't it also require a local computer as well or can it broadcast data directly to the internet through a modem/router?
  • mjp24coho
    mjp24coho Solar Expert Posts: 104 ✭✭✭
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    Re: Battery Monitor System and Remote Monitoring

    I believe it has two interface options - one that hooks put to a computer or one directly to a router.
  • PorkChopsMmm
    PorkChopsMmm Solar Expert Posts: 189 ✭✭✭✭✭
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    Re: Battery Monitor System and Remote Monitoring

    My suggestion won't address the battery monitor, but will address the remote connection. You can use an IP camera tied into your router to "watch" your systems day or night so that you can see your battery levels. Foscam sells a wired/wireless pan/tilt camera with audio for ~$85. I use 2 of these for simple security at my cabin and use my 3G MiFi wireless modem. This is a low-tech suggestion.