Battery monitor with web server

When running an off-grid far away mountain cabin there is one thing you want - remote access to monitor and control your system - agree?

After two year experience with the Morningstar Tristar MPPT 60 controller I have learned to love in particular the built in web server which gives instant overview of PV charging, and the possibility to remotely configure via MSView.

I have internet access via CDMA technology (450Mhz - 6-7Mbit/s at max) and this CDMA router also have a built in web server - brilliant

An X-300 unit from Controlbyweb.com monitor temperature and has 3 relays I use to:
1) Turn on a DC controlled diesel oven to "pre-heat" the cabin
2) Turn on the Victron Inverter
3) Turn on the generator
The X-300 also has a built in web-server and is programmable by using scripts in a simple BASIC look a like programming language. It can also read values from the MPPT CC using Modbus (haven't tried it yet)

Do you see where I am heading?

I want to have the same control over a potential battery monitor - suggestions?
(I did have a Victron VE.Net controler -but manage to kill it - and I could'n remotely connect)

The Pentametric looks like a very well thought product, and together with the internet interface it is almost doing what I want,,, but the solution is based on PentaMetrics own PMComm software and thats a bit old fashion for me, just as the user interface on the control panel. I always have my smartphone or tablet available, but firing up a computer just to see the battery status isn't flying for me.

Any Victron members out there? - They have just released a new control panel named GX Color, doing much of this, but the full overview is only achieved if you also have their MPPT controller - and that's difficult when you are a Tristar fan.

Any views or suggestions is highly appreciated
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Comments

  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Battery monitor with web server

    And here's me just walking away from my system for six months and knowing it will be working when I get back. Even when I'm there I hardly ever look at the read out unless the weather is bad or I'm going to run some power tools.

    The power it would take to keep the Internet connection running 24/7 is substantial. Mine would use a bit over 1 kW hour per day - as much as the refrigerator - and require keeping the inverter active all the time. I'm sure others would be similar.

    I really don't understand this obsession with monitoring a system constantly. I've got better things to do with my time. If you can't depend on your system to stay running unless you're staring at it the thing isn't designed right.
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,925 ✭✭
    Re: Battery monitor with web server

    I'm also not a fan of tweaking the system manually.

    My "battery monitor" makes all the decisions for me, runs generator whan needed, controls solar controller (sic!) and also maintains a good climate. It sends me text messages (over a dial-up-on-demand Internet connection) when some critical things are done or when it things something went heywire, but I didn't implement any control functions.

    I've been on vacation in Europe for two weeks, and the system run fine without my intervention. I got text messages regularly, so I could know that everything was fine.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Battery monitor with web server

    NorthGuy;

    If something had gone wrong what could you have done about it from that distance, eh? :D
    Best to have the safeguards automatic. Data logging, if desired, can take place locally and be examined at one's leisure.
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,925 ✭✭
    Re: Battery monitor with web server
    If something had gone wrong what could you have done about it from that distance, eh? :D

    My plan was to call my neigbour and ask him to walk to my property, see what's wrong, possibly take some actions, like call to firefighters.
    Best to have the safeguards automatic.

    I do have some safeguards, but if it's something out of the ordinary, there's no substitute for human eye.

    For example, if temperature goes above 40C, it turns off everything that it can, but this may not be enough, so it sends me a text message. If it got hot because of some sort of a fire, it gives me a small chance to put the fire down before it's too late.
    Data logging, if desired, can take place locally and be examined at one's leisure.

    Absolutely true. I do have an hourly data logging. I haven't looked at it yet. I will if I need to amalyze or improve something.
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Battery monitor with web server

    It looks like you might be interested in the BBP (Black Box Project ) going on over at the MidNite Forum, Go to this page and scroll down to the Open Source Software/Hardware. http://midniteforum.com/index.php. You will find a lot of work being done in the different sections. The most interesting part is the new WhizzBang Jr. tool that keeps track of Amps in and out of your battery. Looks like it will be run on a BeagleBone Black,rPi , and /or Arduino, decision not made yet .
     
    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
  • RoilRoil Solar Expert Posts: 25
    Re: Battery monitor with web server
    The power it would take to keep the Internet connection running 24/7 is substantial. Mine would use a bit over 1 kW hour per day - as much as the refrigerator - and require keeping the inverter active all the time. I'm sure others would be similar.

    I really don't understand this obsession with monitoring a system constantly.

    I spend max 300Wh per day on these items (330Wh PV charge that is) it includes a web cam to keep track of snow condtions.

    Using a off-grid cabin in Norway during winter you would very much like to be online to be able to pre heat before you arrives late Friday night - we are talking minus 20 deg Celsius. I also use the system to keep water system for freezing during spring and autumn before wintercold really sets in. During this period I use available PV energy to keep the temp above freezing.
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Battery monitor with web server

    -20C? Bah! I thought maybe it got cold there! :D

    Seriously, under those conditions some passive solar heating would be in order. It will work any time the PV would and is far more efficient at creating heat (except for firing up a fossil fuel system). Almost 100% "bullet proof" too.

    Remote monitoring and control systems are pretty fancy stuff for living out in the middle of nowhere. Might as well stay in the city. ;)
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,925 ✭✭
    Re: Battery monitor with web server
    Roil wrote: »
    I also use the system to keep water system for freezing during spring and autumn before wintercold really sets in. During this period I use available PV energy to keep the temp above freezing.

    You can do that locally. Some charge controllers, such as Classic, allow you to divert all unused energy to opportunity loads automatically.

    I also have some exposed piping which is heated electrically, but I treat it as a primary load. If water freezes pipes get damaged. So, I heat it all through winter, even at -40C. What happens to your pipes in winter?
  • CariboocootCariboocoot Banned Posts: 17,615 ✭✭
    Re: Battery monitor with web server

    I'm also thinking Norway is pretty far North, so the Winter sun hours are going to be short. About the same as what you get. NorthGuy. I'm more like Germany here, and that gets down to a 6 hour day with only about 2 hours good sun. As such the array would need to be oversized considerably to make up for the short time of available sun. I know I did the calcs for my place and found it to be impractical to go solar alone in Winter; could not afford to invest in thousands of Watts of panel that would do nothing for most of the year. The OP may want to consider some wind turbine power if at all feasible.

    Something to think about.
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Battery monitor with web server

    Marc, NG, Norway is interesting in that most of the country has cell coverage, nothing like we have here, ie getting 2Km out of town and nada... not a cell beep for 300km till you get to Bella Coola...

    I can see why/how he can have wireless connectivity 24/7 and low power usage.. I like that idea of turning up the heat, but what about 'burning down the house' ?
    http://www.lyricsfreak.com/t/talking+heads/burning+down+the+house_20135067.html
     
    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
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,925 ✭✭
    Re: Battery monitor with web server
    I know I did the calcs for my place and found it to be impractical to go solar alone in Winter; could not afford to invest in thousands of Watts of panel that would do nothing for most of the year.

    Me too. Worse yet, if you want to get all the power in such a short time, you need very high current. To accept it, you would need to oversize your battery bank too, or get some special batteries that can accept C/2 rate of charge or higher. Not really worth it :( Although, I'm still thinking ... May be some miracle ...

    I think Norway is way more North than I am (at least some parts of Norway), but the climate may be actually softer because of the ocean. But I would guess there are incredible amounts of snow to deal with. Must be hard to keep panels clean.
  • RoilRoil Solar Expert Posts: 25
    Re: Battery monitor with web server

    Gentlemen

    Is it correct to say that what i am asking for here isn't commercially available?

    I'll have a look at the BBP, what kind of knowledge do I need to be able to do something like that?
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,925 ✭✭
    Re: Battery monitor with web server
    Roil wrote: »
    I'll have a look at the BBP, what kind of knowledge do I need to be able to do something like that?

    You need some programming skills to convert the information that comes from Victron or Pentametric into Web pages. Then you can watch these web pages on your mobile. Of course, you need a (micro)computer where your software and web server are going to run.

    It is possible that someone has already done that and made the software available.
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Battery monitor with web server

    It is a work in progress, but should be applicable to your project.
    It's Open Source with input from several followers of the MidNite Classic Charge Controller(s) and now the WhizBang Jr. add on to your shunt.

    Best if you read all the entries in the sections, most will be in the general section, and then inquire on that forum.
     
    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
  • RoilRoil Solar Expert Posts: 25
    Re: Battery monitor with web server
    Seriously, under those conditions some passive solar heating would be in order. It will work any time the PV would and is far more efficient at creating heat (except for firing up a fossil fuel system). Almost 100% "bullet proof" too.

    Remote monitoring and control systems are pretty fancy stuff for living out in the middle of nowhere. Might as well stay in the city. ;)

    Agree with "passive solar heating", however available wall space is limited, well it's used by the PV's and the thinking is simple - when PV is capable of producing more energy then can be stored in the batteries, why not use it?

    I do stay in the city ;-) - this is a recreational cabin to get away from it, the city I mean
  • stephendvstephendv Solar Expert Posts: 1,571 ✭✭
    Re: Battery monitor with web server

    The pentametric is the only solution that spring to mind for remote monitoring. Have you checked the protocol it uses, it might just be plain old RS232?

    Also, do you really need a proper battery monitor? Since the tristar will display battery voltage, isn't this enough for remote monitoring?
  • RoilRoil Solar Expert Posts: 25
    Re: Battery monitor with web server
    westbranch wrote: »
    Marc, NG, Norway is interesting in that most of the country has cell coverage, nothing like we have here, ie getting 2Km out of town and nada... not a cell beep for 300km till you get to Bella Coola...

    I can see why/how he can have wireless connectivity 24/7 and low power usage.. I like that idea of turning up the heat, but what about 'burning down the house' ?
    http://www.lyricsfreak.com/t/talking+heads/burning+down+the+house_20135067.html

    Norwegians are very much on-line that's correct. Either with GSM 2G,3G or 4G technology or the CDMA I use with a 65km range. The power consumption is less than 5W

    Many Norwegian cabin have this remote heating option using the GSM network. The heaters are made in Finland, and have a very long track record of safe operation.

    Norway is stretching from latitude 58 to 71 (if you don't include Spidsbergen at 76-81) and is "heated" by the Golf current
  • NorthGuyNorthGuy Solar Expert Posts: 1,925 ✭✭
    Re: Battery monitor with web server
    Roil wrote: »
    The heaters are made in Finland, and have a very long track record of safe operation.

    My heater was made in Norway :D
  • RoilRoil Solar Expert Posts: 25
    Re: Battery monitor with web server
    stephendv wrote: »
    The pentametric is the only solution that spring to mind for remote monitoring. Have you checked the protocol it uses, it might just be plain old RS232?

    Also, do you really need a proper battery monitor? Since the tristar will display battery voltage, isn't this enough for remote monitoring?

    I have sent Bogart Engineering an email with some question - will report back when I get an answer.
  • RoilRoil Solar Expert Posts: 25
    Re: Battery monitor with web server

    Very nice - "Jøtul" one of the largest manufacturer of oven in Norway.

    And yes I have a keyboard with our special letters Æ, Ø and Å
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Battery monitor with web server

    Roil, do you have any pics of your installation at your Hytte?
     
    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
  • machinemanmachineman Solar Expert Posts: 129 ✭✭✭
    Re: Battery monitor with web server

    You can remote monitor and control your system using this inexpensive CAI networks webcontrol board. It has 8 Digital in and 8 outs, 3 analog channels, a web interface you can log into remotely and view the inputs or give it commends for the digital outs to control a device. It also can be programmed with PLC code to add some logic to your commands. I have it clamp my wind turbine when the batterys are charged, shut down my generator if the propane get low, perform a generator start sequence, control a fan in my battery shed, and many other things..

    http://www.amazon.com/Webcontrol-Universal-Temperature-Humidity-Controller/dp/B001H4JXLU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1383623301&sr=8-1&keywords=webcontrol

    Off Grid Cabin, 24V 440ah 6V GC battery bank, Xantrex MPPT60-150 CC, Magnum MS4024 inverter-charger, >1200w Solar bank

  • RoilRoil Solar Expert Posts: 25
    Re: Battery monitor with web server

    Will try to share some pictures - i couldn't fine anyone of the "tech-cabinet" - will have to come back to you on that

    Attachment not found.

    Attachment not found.

    November sun 08:45 - webcam
    Attachment not found.
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Battery monitor with web server

    Those are interesting cable connectors. How do you tell (-) from (+) ? Brand of battery?
     
    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
  • RoilRoil Solar Expert Posts: 25
    Re: Battery monitor with web server

    Those are fuli FL21000. 2V cell, all four on each side is + or -
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Battery monitor with web server

    I assume you have moved them indoors for the winter .
    Since they are AGM's have you mounted them in a stacked array or are they all in line (end to end)?
    PS AGM's are usually recommended to be o their side rather than upright with the wires on top as you show.
     
    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
  • RoilRoil Solar Expert Posts: 25
    Re: Battery monitor with web server
    westbranch wrote: »
    I assume you have moved them indoors for the winter .
    Since they are AGM's have you mounted them in a stacked array or are they all in line (end to end)?
    PS AGM's are usually recommended to be o their side rather than upright with the wires on top as you show.

    Hei

    I agree, however the Norwegian manufacturer of the cabinet have put them upright, don't know why.

    And, no, they will stay outside. As soon as snow arrives they will be covered up and stay around zero deg Celsius.
    Ideally they should have been inside, however this set of 12 2V cells with cabinet weight 780kg /1740 pounds. There is no way I can support them inside on a wooden floor.

    Attachment not found.
  • RoilRoil Solar Expert Posts: 25
    Re: Battery monitor with web server
    westbranch wrote: »
    Roil, do you have any pics of your installation at your Hytte?

    Took some more pictures today, winter is creeping up on us.

    DSC_0468.jpgDSC_0462.jpg


    DSC_0465.jpgDSC_0483.jpg

    DSC_0458.jpg
  • zonebluezoneblue Solar Expert Posts: 1,218 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Battery monitor with web server

    Im not real happy with the exposed battery cables. Being unfused they need all the protection they can get. Couldnt you add conduit?
    1.8kWp CSUN, 10kWh AGM, Midnite Classic 150, Outback VFX3024E,
    http://zoneblue.org/cms/page.php?view=off-grid-solar


  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Battery monitor with web server

    I agree with ZB, a permanent shelter would be best for both the wiring and the batteries etc. It could also protect against rodents chewing on the cables etc.
     
    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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