Solectria inverter monitoring

poleiklengpoleikleng Solar Expert Posts: 29
Has anyone used the Solrenview free Window's based RS232 software for their Solectria PVI2500 inverter monitoring? The instructions mention your computer requires a serial port and newer computers do not have serial ports? Is there an alternative to the serial port?

Comments

  • mikeomikeo Solar Expert Posts: 386 ✭✭✭
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring
    Is there an alternative to the serial port?
    They make serial to USB converter cables that may work. People I know have had mixed luck with these converters though.
  • GreenerPowerGreenerPower Solar Expert Posts: 264 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring

    Sure, you would need to purchase a USB to serial adapter. It's fairly in expensive ($15 on amazon) or cheaper at local computer stores. Once you install its driver (XP or win7 would regcognize automatically most major brands and install it for you), it just appears as a normal COM port. Some application limits you to select either COM1 or COM2 and the adapter driver usually make it COM3, 4 or higher. But you can always go through the device manager and remap it to COM1 or 2 if nothing is there.
    GP
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,884 admin
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring

    I could not find anything on their website--Try a USB to RS 232 converter (with driver support for your version of Windows). If their software is written correctly--it should support the converter just fine.

    Here is a thread with a couple USB converter suggestions.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • poleiklengpoleikleng Solar Expert Posts: 29
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring

    Thanks for the response. I initially I tried using adapters but I was having a problem of not finding the inverter. I called Solectria and they responded:

    "In my experience it is either the cable or the adapter."

    I have a new 50' Cat5 cable running from the inverter to a DBPF to RJ45 adapter (pin-out has been set) and then I had a Belkin adapter DB9M to USB adapter (driver loaded and com ports set) which I plugged into my USB port on my computer. One of the support staff at Solectria told me I could not use two adapters?

    The problem I'm having is the Solrenview software states it can not find the inverter. The Solrenview software appears to function properly but it is in a continous loop looking for the inverter when it searches 1 thru 16 (16 inverter is the max that it will support).




    "Any suggestion why the "Searching ID: does not find the inverter? I'm searching 1 thru 16 and I have Cat5 cable running from the inverter to my computer with a DBPF to RJ45 adapter and the pin-out for the RS232 connection PVI1800-PVI2500 is from the data sheet that Debbie emailed me. I also have a Belkin adapter DB9M to USB that plugs into my USB port in computer."
  • Solar GuppySolar Guppy Solar Expert Posts: 1,972 ✭✭✭
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring

    its probably your cat5 wiring, thats typically not straight through. For testing, use a real RS232 cable direct connected to the inverter, you also need to know if the RS232 pin out is straight thru or cross over which the manufacture should have the information in the manual
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring

    had a similar problem with a USB - RS232 cable.

    Do you have anything else you can connect to confirm that the cable really is working as it should?

    As Sg says there are straight and crossover cables plus reverse polarity(?) issues.

    HTH
     
    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
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,884 admin
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring

    There can also be issues with Clear To Send, Request To Send, etc... Debugging RS-232 is not hard--but getting a final hardware connection adapter (if needed) can be a pain.

    At times, a simple RS 232 break out box is worth its weight in computers.

    The above are just sample random websites... If you need adapters/break out boxes--search around.

    You can get DB 25 and DB 9 connector kits that you can wire up after you figure out the needed connections with a break out box.

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • tallgirltallgirl Solar Expert Posts: 413 ✭✭
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring

    Start with a connection that is as direct as possible between the computer and the inverter. Then start putting adapters and other stuff in between. When it breaks, that's the problem.

    (If you know how to use a breakout box that would be easier, but if you don't -- forget it.)

    Here's an adapter that I've tested extensively and know works -- http://astore.amazon.com/greenhcomput-20/detail/B0007T27H8
  • poleiklengpoleikleng Solar Expert Posts: 29
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring

    Thanks for all the responses. I'm going to install a serial board in my computer and then plug the DB9F/RJ45 adapter directly into the DB9M that's on the new serial board that I will install. This will be my next step, if this fails, I will consider the other suggestions that have been posted within this thread.
  • poleiklengpoleikleng Solar Expert Posts: 29
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring

    Update:

    Installed the new serial I/O card in my computer and also tried another adapter DB9F/RJ45 (they can assemble these where I work) per the pin-out instructions supplied by Solectria. Same problem as before when I tried to use the DB9M/USB Belkin adaper, unable to find the inverter. I then took my computer and set it up next the inverters ( I have two inverters, PVI2500) and ran a 7-foot Cat5 cable from a different inverter to my computer and used the DB9F/RJ45 adapter which I plugged into my new serial I/O card in my computer. Same results, could not find the inverter. Based on this, do you think this is a software issue or hardware issue?

    Both com ports were identical (com 2) and I had 19200 baud rate selected.

    I'm attempting to use Solectria's Windows-based RS232 PV monitoring software to view the data from my inverters on my computer.
  • BB.BB. Super Moderators, Administrators Posts: 31,884 admin
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring

    Many RS 232 interfaces need CTS looped to RTS (Request to Send connected to Clear to Send)...

    Try straight through and cross over Tx and Rx data lines. Data ground to data ground... Sometimes you can smoke cables if there are ground level differences between the computers (RS 232 itself requires common ground. You can get isolated adapters).

    By the way, when you used USB--do you get some com port >COM4?

    -Bill
    Near San Francisco California: 3.5kWatt Grid Tied Solar power system+small backup genset
  • poleiklengpoleikleng Solar Expert Posts: 29
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring
    BB. wrote: »
    Many RS 232 interfaces need CTS looped to RTS (Request to Send connected to Clear to Send)...

    Try straight through and cross over Tx and Rx data lines. Data ground to data ground... Sometimes you can smoke cables if there are ground level differences between the computers (RS 232 itself requires common ground. You can get isolated adapters).

    By the way, when you used USB--do you get some com port >COM4?

    -Bill

    I believe so regarding com4, the Solectria software only had two options regarding com ports (com1 and com2)
  • RoderickRoderick Solar Expert Posts: 253 ✭✭
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring

    I'm getting into the conversation late, but if that Solectrica inverter is anything like my old PV Powered Inverter, the Inverter has a 9-pin female DB-9 jack, and the computer is supposed to have a 9-pin male DB-9. The cable to connect these has every wire going straight through - pin 1 to pin 1, etc., up to pin 9. In my case, the inverter actually used all those pins, even going as far as drawing power for the RS-232 interface from RTS. If you have something converting DB-9 to RJ-45, then one of those lines is not being connected. I don't know if it matters, but it could.

    If you have a DVM or continuity tester, check your cable and make sure that all the signals go straight through. The pin numbers are usually printed in very tiny embossing by the pins, themselves - can be read with a magnifying glass.
  • poleiklengpoleikleng Solar Expert Posts: 29
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring
    Roderick wrote: »
    I'm getting into the conversation late, but if that Solectrica inverter is anything like my old PV Powered Inverter, the Inverter has a 9-pin female DB-9 jack, and the computer is supposed to have a 9-pin male DB-9. The cable to connect these has every wire going straight through - pin 1 to pin 1, etc., up to pin 9. In my case, the inverter actually used all those pins, even going as far as drawing power for the RS-232 interface from RTS. If you have something converting DB-9 to RJ-45, then one of those lines is not being connected. I don't know if it matters, but it could.

    If you have a DVM or continuity tester, check your cable and make sure that all the signals go straight through. The pin numbers are usually printed in very tiny embossing by the pins, themselves - can be read with a magnifying glass.

    The Solectria inverters (PVI2500) have two RS-232/485 communication ports. Below are the instructions:

    1)Computer Requirements
    -Serial port or installed serial port adapter and inverter-to-serial port cable specific to the inverter model.

    You have to connect via the computer's serial port

    I have also attached the pin-out requirements for the PVI2500 inverter.
  • GreenerPowerGreenerPower Solar Expert Posts: 264 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring
    poleikleng wrote: »
    I believe so regarding com4, the Solectria software only had two options regarding com ports (com1 and com2)
    Would you be able to change the USB Serial COM port assignment to either COM1 or COM2 ? The attached captures show how to change it on Windows (mine use "Prolific" brand). Select whichever COM1 or COM2 "not used" and run the SW and select that COM port. From the posted RJ45 socket pins, you should connect:

    RJ45-pin2 (RX) --- DB9-female pin 3 (TX of the DB9-male of USB serial)
    RJ45-pin3 (TX) --- DB9 female pin 2 (RX of DB9-male of USB serial)
    RJ45-pin4 (GND) --- DB9 female pin 5

    Also attach images of the RJ45 cable pins (the pins are looked with the golden pins facing you pointing up, the tab away from the other side) and DB9-male pins of the USB serial

    Hope these help.
    GP
    DB9-male serial pins are from http://www.aggsoft.com/rs232-pinout-cable/serial-port-db9.htm
    RJ45 pins are from http://www.trangobroadband.com/infobase/cat5-ethernet-cable-pin-out.aspx
  • poleiklengpoleikleng Solar Expert Posts: 29
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring
    Would you be able to change the USB Serial COM port assignment to either COM1 or COM2 ? The attached captures show how to change it on Windows (mine use "Prolific" brand). Select whichever COM1 or COM2 "not used" and run the SW and select that COM port. From the posted RJ45 socket pins, you should connect:

    RJ45-pin2 (RX) --- DB9-female pin 3 (TX of the DB9-male of USB serial)
    RJ45-pin3 (TX) --- DB9 female pin 2 (RX of DB9-male of USB serial)
    RJ45-pin4 (GND) --- DB9 female pin 5

    Also attach images of the RJ45 cable pins (the pins are looked with the golden pins facing you pointing up, the tab away from the other side) and DB9-male pins of the USB serial

    Hope these help.
    GP
    DB9-male serial pins are from http://www.aggsoft.com/rs232-pinout-cable/serial-port-db9.htm
    RJ45 pins are from http://www.trangobroadband.com/infobase/cat5-ethernet-cable-pin-out.aspx

    I'm using com2, the Cat5 cable is "straight through." The DB9F/RJ45 adapter was assembled where I work based on the pin-out instructions that Solectria emailed me. I had two DB9F/RJ45 adapters built by two different people base on the response by Solectria that in their experience the cable and adapters are usually the problem, I have tried both of these adapters. I have used two different Cat5 cables and I also have tried a Belkin DB9F/USB and then I ordered and installed a serial I/O card because Solectria told me that I could not use two adapters. The problem I have is the software is in a continous loop looking for the inverter, it keeps searching 1 thru 16 (16 is the maximum number of inverters the software will suport). Thanks for you help.
  • RoderickRoderick Solar Expert Posts: 253 ✭✭
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring

    Based on the document, it appears that flow control pins are not used at all, that is, all you need is Rx-Tx-GND.

    If I had no other data to go on, here is what I would do:

    1) First, identify the ground. Cut one end off your LAN cable, and strip all the leads. Get a DVM, and look for continuity between each lead, in turn, and the inverter ground. If you have a standard color coded cable, and a clear RJ-45 plug, the wire you want will usually be solid blue. But no guarantees, some manufacturers are weird.

    2) That ground pin should solder to pin 5 on your DB-9 female plug.

    3) Now locate the Tx pin of the inverter. Put the black lead of the DVM on ground, and find which wires measure between -5 and -15 volts. If the cable follows standard coding, it will probably be the White with Green stripes. Connect that to pin 2 of the DB-9.

    4) If White/Green was transmit, then solid orange is probably receive. That should connect to pin 3 of the DB-9.

    I have every confidence that this is just a wiring issue, and you'll eventually get it to work. When it does, sketch your answer, and send it to the manufacturer, so the next person doesn't have to suffer.
  • poleiklengpoleikleng Solar Expert Posts: 29
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring

    Update:

    Solectria wants me now to run the Cat5 cable directly to my serial I/O card. I will have to remove the RJ45 connector off of one end of the Cat5 cable and then solder a DB9F in its place. Solectria sells a 6-foot cable but I'm 50-feet away from the inverter? I would love to speak with anyone who has attemped this, it's very difficult for an average homeowner to install. Solectria would prefer I purchase their fee-based set up "Most customers order the SolrenView option as this is web viewable and looks professional." Thanks for all the responses.

    What are other people using for their non-fee based inverter monitoring?
  • RoderickRoderick Solar Expert Posts: 253 ✭✭
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring

    I use homebrew software and hardware, a challenge to set up the first time: http://www.angelfire.com/ca2/roderick/pvm/pvmon.html
  • tallgirltallgirl Solar Expert Posts: 413 ✭✭
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring
    poleikleng wrote: »
    Update:

    Solectria wants me now to run the Cat5 cable directly to my serial I/O card. I will have to remove the RJ45 connector off of one end of the Cat5 cable and then solder a DB9F in its place. Solectria sells a 6-foot cable but I'm 50-feet away from the inverter? I would love to speak with anyone who has attemped this, it's very difficult for an average homeowner to install. Solectria would prefer I purchase their fee-based set up "Most customers order the SolrenView option as this is web viewable and looks professional." Thanks for all the responses.

    What are other people using for their non-fee based inverter monitoring?

    There are Cat5 to DB9 converter plugs. You'd have to know which wires on the Cat5 carry what signals. You can also get female-to-female devices that would allow you to connect that shorter Cat5 to a long one.

    Fishing Cat5 through pipe isn't very hard, so long as you protect the end of the cable while you're VERY CAREFULLY pulling it through whatever it has to be pulled through.
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Problem is In Distance From RS232 Re: Solectria inverter monitoring

    I believe you may be having noise problems with RS232. 50ft is the max length allowed by the standard (unless you have a low capacitance cable). Also, at 50ft, the voltage level used will need to be at the upper range. Some computers (especially laptops) and some converters don't use the max send/receive voltage.

    It might be better to use RS485, which is what I plan to do.

    If you are still looking at this thread, I would appreciate any help you can give me in setting up monitoring for my PVI 13kW. Solenview isn't responding to emails. In particular, I would be looking for communication settings and/or software.

    Thanks!

    To investigate more about RS485 vs. RS232... I would suggest http://www.lammertbies.nl/comm/info/RS-485.html
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring
    Roderick wrote: »
    I use homebrew software and hardware, a challenge to set up the first time: http://www.angelfire.com/ca2/roderick/pvm/pvmon.html

    Roderick,

    I'm going to try to use your homebrew method... but do you think the software will work for my Solectria PVI 5000 inverter?

    I'm sure glad I held on to my Palm V and the charger dock! it will come in handy now!
  • System2System2 Posts: 6,290 admin
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring
    poleikleng wrote: »
    I'm using com2, the Cat5 cable is "straight through." The DB9F/RJ45 adapter was assembled where I work based on the pin-out instructions that Solectria emailed me. I had two DB9F/RJ45 adapters built by two different people base on the response by Solectria that in their experience the cable and adapters are usually the problem, I have tried both of these adapters. I have used two different Cat5 cables and I also have tried a Belkin DB9F/USB and then I ordered and installed a serial I/O card because Solectria told me that I could not use two adapters. The problem I have is the software is in a continous loop looking for the inverter, it keeps searching 1 thru 16 (16 is the maximum number of inverters the software will suport). Thanks for you help.

    Did you ever get it working? I had the same problem for PVIDAQ software not finding the inverter.

    I just had to figure this out for my own PVI5000.

    Here is what worked for me and PVIDAQ software and PVmate datamanager both could find the inverter and collect data!

    RJ-45.... DB-9
    Pin 1 .....Pin 2 - TX
    Pin 2 .....Pin 3 - RX
    Pin 4 .....Pin 5 - Ground

    The solenview manual actually provides info on what pin is what pin. see page 8 figure 4.2
    http://www.solren.com/SolrenView/dow...ViewManual.pdf

    I also found this software was better than PVIDAQ... it's called PVmate data manager - get it here...
    http://www.motechsolar.com/products/...0E_3800E_2800E
  • poleiklengpoleikleng Solar Expert Posts: 29
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring

    No, I was unable to get the software to find my inverter. I called Solectria and offered to bring my computer to their location and see if they could solve the problem but they stated they did not have an inverter at their location.
  • RoderickRoderick Solar Expert Posts: 253 ✭✭
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring

    Thanks to Hans who helped test this, a version of pvmon is now available to monitor Solectria inverters through a Palm V pda. If anyone is interested it is here

    The download is at the bottom, pvm3

    Have Fun,
    Roderick.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,320 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring

    Awesome. Thanks for the codesmithing. Now only if my Treo was not dieing, and if I had a Solectria, I'd be happier.

    While I had my grid tie system I was using PV-log. (Is that still hosted anywhere ?)

    Thanks.
    Mike
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • sjmsolarsjmsolar Registered Users Posts: 1
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring

    Hi Roderick,

    I am interested in using your pvm3 software to monitor my Solectria PVI5000. Are you able to provide the source code and which version of Palm OS do I need? Also, I would appreciate your expertise and thoughts as to whether it would be possible to amend the source code to not write to a log file, but instead make a HTTP POST of the captured data to a URL over a local (secure) WiFi connection. The intention is to capture the data and make it instantly available on my web site (http://solar.sjmillerconsultants.com).

    Regards,
    sjm
  • westbranchwestbranch Solar Expert Posts: 5,183 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Solectria inverter monitoring

    PVM2 works with V4 Palm OS, and I think I had it running on a PVx with V3 also... YMMV
     
    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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