Need Cheap 3G/4G Remote Router Suggestion

EastCoastSolar
EastCoastSolar Registered Users, Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 4
We have been using the TP-link mr3220 router along with a 3G cellular USB modem to connect to our remote solar installations to monitor performance of our PowerOne Aurora and SolarEdge inverters. The advantage was that this router was cheap (~$35) and very reliable.

My problem is that they no longer make it (hardware verison 1.2) and its successor (version 2) is not reliable and is not fully supported by custom firmware. I can't even find them on ebay anymore.

Does anyone have a suggestion for a RELIABLE router alternative (i.e. works for over a year with no user intervention) and cheap?

Comments

  • mike95490
    mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 9,583 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Look for DD-WRT compatiable routers, load the new firmware on and you are set to go.
     you can often find used, re-flashed routers on fleabay

    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 ||
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  • EastCoastSolar
    EastCoastSolar Registered Users, Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 4
    mike95490 said:
    Look for DD-WRT compatiable routers, load the new firmware on and you are set to go.
     you can often find used, re-flashed routers on fleabay

    Unfortunately that list doesn't have any sort of reliability ratings. I need a cheap router with a USB port that won't go offline every few days or even months. Hoping someone can recommend something
  • littleharbor2
    littleharbor2 Solar Expert Posts: 2,032 ✭✭✭✭✭
    If this is so important why are you also concerned about it being cheap? Cheap and reliable don't necessarily go hand in hand.

    2.1 Kw Suntech 175 mono, Classic 200, Trace SW 4024 ( 15 years old  but brand new out of sealed factory box Jan. 2015), Bogart Tri-metric,  460 Ah. 24 volt LiFePo4 battery bank. Plenty of Baja Sea of Cortez sunshine.

  • Estragon
    Estragon Registered Users Posts: 4,496 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Unfortunately, expensive doesn't always mean more reliable either, as extra features can mean extra complexity and extra bugs. That said, there are industrial modem/routers from the likes of Multitech that are about as reliable as it gets (but not cheap).

    For cheap, the suggestion of something like a Linksys wrt54 reflashed with dd-wrt/tomato/whatever is likely to be pretty reliable. Something like a Raspberry Pi with a stripped down *nix OS might work well too.
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter
  • Dave Angelini
    Dave Angelini Solar Expert Posts: 6,713 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Yes agree with you on the Raspberry Pi with a DC supply from your battery system.
    "we go where power lines don't" Sierra Nevada mountain area
       htps://offgridsolar1.com/
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  • EastCoastSolar
    EastCoastSolar Registered Users, Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 4
    edited May 2018 #7
    If this is so important why are you also concerned about it being cheap? Cheap and reliable don't necessarily go hand in hand.
    Important does not equal critical. If the link goes down for a few days it's not the end of the world however it's a pain to send someone out on a 2 hour drive just to power cycle the router. Cheap is an issue because we have dozens of sites and the economics do not justify a $300 router. If we HAD to pay that much we would take the loss but as I mentioned we have had tremendous success with the $30 mr3220 version 1.2 (which is completely different from hardware version 2) and I haven't been able to find anything similar. 

    TP-Link has small newer USB units like the TL-WR902AC but it won't stay online for more than a few days with the cellular stick. Anything under $100 really would do the job, it has to have a USB port with 3G/4G support, stay connected, and be supported by DDWRT
  • Horsefly
    Horsefly Registered Users Posts: 470 ✭✭✭✭
    For remote reliability - I would buy a Raspberry Pi box and have it as a local client on whatever router you buy. Have the power to the router go through a relay controlled by the Raspberry Pi. Have the Raspberry Pi ping yahoo.com every 5 minutes or so, and if the ping fails for something like 3 times in a row, cycle the power to the router. Then the router will reboot and be back on line.

    I've used this watchdog approach with an automation PC that I needed to keep on the Internet for weeks at a time, but I had little confidence in the router. 
    Off-grid cabin: 6 x Canadian Solar CSK-280M PV panels, Schneider XW-MPPT60-150 Charge Controller, Schneider CSW4024 Inverter/Charger, Schneider SCP, 8S (25.6V), 230Ah Eve LiFePO4 battery in a custom insulated and heated case.
  • fratermus
    fratermus Registered Users Posts: 48 ✭✭
    I've had openwrt/dd-wrt/tomato running on $5 garage sale wrt54 models for months.   They only reboot when the power goes out or they get upgraded.


  • EastCoastSolar
    EastCoastSolar Registered Users, Users Awaiting Email Confirmation Posts: 4
    fratermus said:
    I've had openwrt/dd-wrt/tomato running on $5 garage sale wrt54 models for months.   They only reboot when the power goes out or they get upgraded.


    Yeah I've had a few of those myself, the complication here is that the router has to have a USB port with a 3G/4G stick and the cell link has to stay up
  • Estragon
    Estragon Registered Users Posts: 4,496 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I believe all the rPi versions have USB port(s). They run USB wi-fi dongles, but might need a powered hub to run a cell stick radio depending on current draw.
    Off-grid.  
    Main daytime system ~4kw panels into 2xMNClassic150 370ah 48v bank 2xOutback 3548 inverter 120v + 240v autotransformer
    Night system ~1kw panels into 1xMNClassic150 700ah 12v bank morningstar 300w inverter