Sol-Ark needs a serious Change!

ret60sp

Solar Enthusiast
We recently installed a new Sol-Ark 12k EMP controlling 32x400 watt Q-Cell Panels. During the finalization of the setup and building a plant, we couldn't get the Sol-Ark to communicate with the monitoring servers through our wired home network. A phone call to tech support was interrupted when I had an epiphany and thought to ask where these monitoring servers are located. I informed the technician that if the monitoring servers are based in China, Russia, Iran, North Korea or any country that is unfriendly with the United States, our router will intentionally block those IP addresses on all inbound and outbound traffic. The tech took a long pause and told us to "hold-on"..... when he returned he admitted that the monitoring servers are in China. The Phone app also uses Chinese servers.

The #1 existential threat to the United States, especially our power grid, is China. Giving China the ability to monitor the solar power production of Sol-Ark systems here in the United States is grossly irresponsible. Needless to say that I'm disappointed that a "Veteran Owned" company would not consider the implications of this corporate decision.

Sure, I could just use the system unmonitored - which is what we are doing in the interim while we await the power(s) that be at Sol-Ark to pull their heads out of the sand.

Spending the additional premium to purchase an EMP hardened Sol-Ark system seems a bit untoward to then give control of the same system to the #1 country that might choose to use an EMP device against the United States in the future.

Before you folks decide to jump in here and start telling me that I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill, just know that those Chinese servers can be used by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to change your setup, flash your firmware to render your system inoperative, or possibly make it completely unsafe. Give that some thought.

I've written a letter last week to the CEO of Sol-Ark and received no response. More people need to call and write them to have the monitoring server and services brought back onto and into the United States.

Oh, and before you assume that your non-Sol-Ark brand inverter is safely monitored in the USA or the EU, you might want to check to see where the monitoring servers are located before you just assume.
 

pvdude

Solar Enthusiast
Very good points!
I have Schneider equipment.
It is connected to the Internet, and “somehow” communicates with the Borg collective, somewhere.
How do I find out where the Schneider servers are that are monitoring my system?
I suspect it us EU, as all the tech support comes from Europe, but not sure about the servers.
 

ret60sp

Solar Enthusiast
Very good points!
I have Schneider equipment.
It is connected to the Internet, and “somehow” communicates with the Borg collective, somewhere.
How do I find out where the Schneider servers are that are monitoring my system?
I suspect it us EU, as all the tech support comes from Europe, but not sure about the servers.
The sure fired way to find out where your inverter is "calling home" is to go into your router and find the IP address of your inverter, then take a look at the IP firewall to see where the Src address is connecting to the Dst address. The Dst address is the server that your inverter is communicating with. Write down that IP address and then use a browser search Whois (xxx.xxx.xxx.xxx) <- fill in the IP address here to see where that IP address is hosted.
 

ret60sp

Solar Enthusiast
you can get and EMP shield and skip all o the sol-ark branding margin
Are you suggesting different hardware? When you say "get an EMP shield and skip all of the sol-ark branding margin" that makes no sense. What are you suggesting exactly? If you have a Sol-Ark system and have invested $8k in an EMP hardened system, there is no option to "get an EMP shield" ..... it is already EMP hardened. Please explain what you mean here.
 

ret60sp

Solar Enthusiast
you can get and EMP shield and skip all o the sol-ark branding margin
Ahhh.... I think I understand what you are suggesting. You are suggesting that anyone interested in purchasing a Inverter can forgo the added expense of getting an EMP hardened inverter by simply adding an EMP shield to your system? If that is what you are suggesting you'd be mistaken. Even if EMP shield worked as it is advertised, it will not protect both the DC and AC circuitry inside the inverter. I know this to be true because as a former Electronic Warfare Officer and Instructor Pilot, our aircraft had to have EVERY system statically grounded and EMP hardened to protect each component. So adding an EMP shield or a shunt type buffer, or ferrites is not a simple one and done solution when it comes to an EMP burst. A solar flare or an EMP burst are not the same as a near lightning strike or utility line voltage spike. It takes a combination of ferrites (type 61) on each end of every wire or bundles of wires to reduce the pulse width and amplitude of a strike. One system is not enough. The best system is hardened by the factory, by static bonding and creating a shunt buffer (capacitor) in the device to absorb high pulse energy and shunt that power to ground.

I'm not suggesting that the Sol-Ark with factory EMP hardening is all you need. Thats hardly the case. You should add ferrites to each end of your cabling, place a ground rod as close to your inverter as reasonably possible and make sure you use a solid, highly conductive ground wire to bridge the distance between your inverter and ground. You should use AC and DC EMP shunts in your service panel and in any place that might be subject to a pulse of energy. Don't assume that the pulse will just come through the utility meter base. It could come through your solar array if you don't have ferrites on each panel, and even then that might not be enough. It just depends how close you are to the burst and how many rads or rems are being pulsed.

Oh, and I'm not convinced that EMP shield (as a brand) is what all the marketing would have one believe.
 

ret60sp

Solar Enthusiast
Honey-Pot is what it was called in the Electronic Warfare business. Designing a sacrificial device that is designed to suck an over-voltage pulse burst in a direction away from sensitive electronics. In other words, giving that lightning bolt a less damaging path to ground than going through your roof. In aircraft lightning bolts typically hit the tail section and then exit out of the wheel well. This energy will hopefully travel AROUND the fuselage instead of THROUGH the fuselage. Traveling around means it only scorches some paint and maybe welds a few rivets, whereas traveling through means it probably entered through an antenna, followed the wire to the radio, blew out the radio and exploded a number of adjacent electronics on its way in search of a grounded path to the wheel well to then exit the aircraft and continue to the earth below.
 

OffGridInTheCity

Solar Addict
Oh, and before you assume that your non-Sol-Ark brand inverter is safely monitored in the USA or the EU, you might want to check to see where the monitoring servers are located before you just assume.
I'm a retired, software development engineer. I will NOT connect to anything outside my home. Any data you 'give away' will be used to track you and be sold. The iComfort on my whole-house heat pump is an example - I refuse to allow it to connect and store my heat/cool stats outside of my home. You might think - who could ever connect my 'annoymous' heat/cool use or SolArk solar stats or X or Y or Z to me - but you'd be wrong. These bits of data can be leveraged thru analysis and often connected together and sold or used to market you or used for nefarious purposes down the road. The way AWES (Amazon Web Services) and Dell (EMC/Vmware services) works is that virtual servers can migrate and/or be replicated and/or backed up anywhere in the world. You can have a primary service here and replicate/backup there. Personally - I just won't buy a product that requires off-site interconnect to be used.
 
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rhino

Solar Addict
I posted this before in a message from a few months ago that this phoning home business WITHOUT the ability to monitor your system locally was the #1 reason I skipped Sol-Ark and went with Victron instead(which does not requite internet connection to use/monitor). I'm glad I did after you found out that it is contacting servers in China. Yes there are hacks people are trying to do but there is no company supported way to monitor your Sol-Ark without it contacting a remote server and then you accessing that remote server just to see what your own system is doing in your own house. Even if you blocked it if you want any bug fixes or firmware updates you'd have to let it phone home.
 

rhino

Solar Addict
How do I find out where the Schneider servers are that are monitoring my system?
If you have a router setup that all your traffic has to go through then you can check the logs of the router. Your Schneider or any other device would have a local IP assigned to it and you should then be able to filter by all the traffic coming/going from that ip in the logs.
 

rhino

Solar Addict
What is the website address people use to access their Sol-Ark data online? Maybe I can check if I can verify anything through there (but they may be hiding where the data is coming from and website itself hosted in USA).
 

rhino

Solar Addict
I was looking at the "code" for the Android app mentioned in the Sol-Ark manual and interestingly there are only references to deye and not Sol-Ark. Also pulled this out of it of where I believe the app was made:
"Chengdu_Address_tips": "9th Floor, Building 10, Tianfu Xingu, No.399, West Section of Fucheng Avenue, High-tech Zone, Chengdu",
"Suzhou_Address_tips": "2nd Floor, Building 1, No. 206 Songshan Road, High-tech Zone, Suzhou City, Jiangsu Province",
 

Supervstech

Administrator
Staff member
Moderator
We recently installed a new Sol-Ark 12k EMP controlling 32x400 watt Q-Cell Panels. During the finalization of the setup and building a plant, we couldn't get the Sol-Ark to communicate with the monitoring servers through our wired home network. A phone call to tech support was interrupted when I had an epiphany and thought to ask where these monitoring servers are located. I informed the technician that if the monitoring servers are based in China, Russia, Iran, North Korea or any country that is unfriendly with the United States, our router will intentionally block those IP addresses on all inbound and outbound traffic. The tech took a long pause and told us to "hold-on"..... when he returned he admitted that the monitoring servers are in China. The Phone app also uses Chinese servers.

The #1 existential threat to the United States, especially our power grid, is China. Giving China the ability to monitor the solar power production of Sol-Ark systems here in the United States is grossly irresponsible. Needless to say that I'm disappointed that a "Veteran Owned" company would not consider the implications of this corporate decision.

Sure, I could just use the system unmonitored - which is what we are doing in the interim while we await the power(s) that be at Sol-Ark to pull their heads out of the sand.

Spending the additional premium to purchase an EMP hardened Sol-Ark system seems a bit untoward to then give control of the same system to the #1 country that might choose to use an EMP device against the United States in the future.

Before you folks decide to jump in here and start telling me that I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill, just know that those Chinese servers can be used by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to change your setup, flash your firmware to render your system inoperative, or possibly make it completely unsafe. Give that some thought.

I've written a letter last week to the CEO of Sol-Ark and received no response. More people need to call and write them to have the monitoring server and services brought back onto and into the United States.

Oh, and before you assume that your non-Sol-Ark brand inverter is safely monitored in the USA or the EU, you might want to check to see where the monitoring servers are located before you just assume.
Wow...
 

jwelter99

Solar Addict
We recently installed a new Sol-Ark 12k EMP controlling 32x400 watt Q-Cell Panels. During the finalization of the setup and building a plant, we couldn't get the Sol-Ark to communicate with the monitoring servers through our wired home network. A phone call to tech support was interrupted when I had an epiphany and thought to ask where these monitoring servers are located. I informed the technician that if the monitoring servers are based in China, Russia, Iran, North Korea or any country that is unfriendly with the United States, our router will intentionally block those IP addresses on all inbound and outbound traffic. The tech took a long pause and told us to "hold-on"..... when he returned he admitted that the monitoring servers are in China. The Phone app also uses Chinese servers.

The #1 existential threat to the United States, especially our power grid, is China. Giving China the ability to monitor the solar power production of Sol-Ark systems here in the United States is grossly irresponsible. Needless to say that I'm disappointed that a "Veteran Owned" company would not consider the implications of this corporate decision.

Sure, I could just use the system unmonitored - which is what we are doing in the interim while we await the power(s) that be at Sol-Ark to pull their heads out of the sand.

Spending the additional premium to purchase an EMP hardened Sol-Ark system seems a bit untoward to then give control of the same system to the #1 country that might choose to use an EMP device against the United States in the future.

Before you folks decide to jump in here and start telling me that I'm making a mountain out of a mole hill, just know that those Chinese servers can be used by the People's Liberation Army (PLA) to change your setup, flash your firmware to render your system inoperative, or possibly make it completely unsafe. Give that some thought.

I've written a letter last week to the CEO of Sol-Ark and received no response. More people need to call and write them to have the monitoring server and services brought back onto and into the United States.

Oh, and before you assume that your non-Sol-Ark brand inverter is safely monitored in the USA or the EU, you might want to check to see where the monitoring servers are located before you just assume.

You make good points, but it's also likely the router you are using has a CCP/PLA back door in it already waiting to be exploited when needed.

A recently report is that almost 100% of consumer electronics has now been compromised by China. The exceptions are extremely few and far between.
 

Cheap 4-life

Solar Enthusiast
Aren’t these inverters made by the Chinese (Deye) and basically rebranded for the USA. Hard to avoid the topic of this post when basically using a Chinese inverter.
 
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ret60sp

Solar Enthusiast
Whats missing from this testing is the CS116 testing, which measures the susceptibility of the equipment from transients of an EMP burst. EMP (not EMI) is what gets absorbed by the various wiring and dumped into the equipment at either end. Its this high surge in energy (high voltage static charge like lightning, or a high photon burst like that transmitted by a EMP nuclear device, etc.). The testing you reference here is more of a test that determines if the equipment will be damaged or suffer a performance loss by EMI, not EMP. There is a HUGE difference between EMI and EMP. One is Interference and the other involves a Pulse. Basic interference testing measures what the equipment does, i.e. in the presence of low voltage wiring running in parallel with high voltage wiring. It measures things like how much cross-talk exists in the equipment native wiring and determines if the performance of the equipment degrades due to factors like cross-talk and other EM-Interference scenarios. Dealing with a high static charge PULSE (EMP), or a high photon PULSE of light (EMP) or a high energy PULSE in the 100-900 nanometer frequency range (EMP) is what CS116 testing looks at. Being that solar systems are literally aimed at the sun - which happens to be the #1 EMP generator in our solar system - its important to have CS116 testing (and others) performed on all inverters that are part of a solar power production system. This test didn't look at that, and most engineers who work in the field of vehicle, aircraft and facility hardening will say that EMP testing is much more important than EMI testing when it comes to a solar power production.
 
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