Sol-Ark needs a serious Change!

fafrd

Photon Sorcerer
Joined
Aug 11, 2020
Messages
2,229
The CT I have are a coil plus a resistor, put out 3 mV per amp.
Two in series would add voltage, if each was around a wire carrying one amp, the series connection would produce 6 mV.
If in parallel, 3 mV || 3 mV = 3 mV
If one wire carried 0A and the other 1A, the sensed current would split between the two parallel resistors (when CT in parallel) so 1.5V
Each is just a current source driving a resistor.

Sum vs. average, I figure.
Interesting, thanks.

The CT sensor I have is shown in the last picture here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B08H...dcrb_top?ie=UTF8#immersive-view_1632278868428

Doing a bit of digging, it seems there are two types of CT sensors, current type and voltage type (with a resistor, like yours).

I’m not sure how to determine which type I have.

With current type, two in-phase sensors in parallel should deliver a combined current equal to their sum.

With voltage type, the input current adds but is translated to voltage though 2 resistors in parallel, so half the voltage output if the sum or the average, as you state.

Since my GTILs are configured to drive current and/or voltage to zero, the behavior should be the same and it may just be the reported power when the GTIL is unable to zero it out which is off by 50% (half in the case of parallel versus series connection).

I just had a look a my CT sensor and it says ‘100A / 50mA’ so it looks like I have a current type and that is why parallel connection is adding as I had thought…
 
Last edited:

fafrd

Photon Sorcerer
Joined
Aug 11, 2020
Messages
2,229
Be careful in use of that type, may be a safety issue if not handled correctly. I don't know if these small ones we use are as great a danger or not.

Thanks for the heads up. No warning came with my GTIL inverters and I had no issue installing them just like I do the clamp sensor of my multimeter.

50mA from 100A of 120VAC translates to 50mV for every 12kW and since I’m generally consuming well under 1/10th of that, hard to believe 5mA of AC current is going to result in a voltage spike to dangerous levels (at least through such a long connection wire).

But good to keep in mind…
 

rickypr

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
May 23, 2020
Messages
21
I also own a Solark unit which I like very much. Where I live I loose Internet access frequently and have made a custom PCB to replace the inner board of the Solark WiFi dongle. My goal is to have local monitoring and interact with other smart home components. It retrieves the information from the unit and transforms it into Sunspec models 102 and 160 (for now). My local HomeAssistant server already can retrieve the inverter values in real time using Modbus TCP. It provides inverter data using JSON format through an API and can publish values to an MQTT server and to InfluxDB (either to a local server or to their Cloud service). This is still under development, right now I am working on the web interface with live usage data. Here are some pictures of the progress, again still under development. Any recommendations on what features it should have? I think I would like to sell some units to recover some of the investment I made on my solar system.
 

Attachments

  • IMG_20210918_195407.jpg
    IMG_20210918_195407.jpg
    442.4 KB · Views: 27
  • SharedScreenshot2.jpg
    SharedScreenshot2.jpg
    149.5 KB · Views: 28
Last edited:

Scorch

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Apr 9, 2021
Messages
51
I also own a Solark unit which I like very much. Where I live I loose Internet access frequently and have made a custom PCB to replace the inner board of the Solark WiFi dongle. My goal is to have local monitoring and interact with other smart home components. It retrieves the information from the unit and transforms it into Sunspec models 102 and 160 (for now). My local HomeAssistant server already can retrieve the inverter values in real time using Modbus TCP. It provides inverter data using JSON format through an API and can publish values to an MQTT server and to InfluxDB (either to a local server or to their Cloud service). This is still under development, right now I am working on the web interface with live usage data. Here are some pictures of the progress, again still under development. Any recommendations on what features it should have? I think I would like to sell some units to recover some of the investment I made on my solar system.
Mark me down as a potential customer!

Though it would need to be pretty plug and play for me to be able to use it. Would be great if it could be linked to IFTTT.
 

rickypr

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
May 23, 2020
Messages
21
Mark me down as a potential customer!

Though it would need to be pretty plug and play for me to be able to use it. Would be great if it could be linked to IFTTT.
The idea is just to replace the card that comes inside the wifi dongle. It can be configured through wifi (acts as an access point).
I will research about how to integrated with IFTTT, sounds like a great idea.

-Thank you
 
Last edited:

poldim

New Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2020
Messages
28
I also own a Solark unit which I like very much. Where I live I loose Internet access frequently and have made a custom PCB to replace the inner board of the Solark WiFi dongle. My goal is to have local monitoring and interact with other smart home components. It retrieves the information from the unit and transforms it into Sunspec models 102 and 160 (for now). My local HomeAssistant server already can retrieve the inverter values in real time using Modbus TCP. It provides inverter data using JSON format through an API and can publish values to an MQTT server and to InfluxDB (either to a local server or to their Cloud service). This is still under development, right now I am working on the web interface with live usage data. Here are some pictures of the progress, again still under development. Any recommendations on what features it should have? I think I would like to sell some units to recover some of the investment I made on my solar system.
Nice, how are you polling that data from that DB9 port of the wifi dongle? Is it just serial? Also, at what interval? Your charts look very detailed

I'm curious why you are transforming the data to sunspec models? This might post might be of interest for you as it's an already built integration for solark
 

denarius

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Apr 8, 2021
Messages
29
A really easy way to monitor your Sol-Ark inverter is with solar assistant. I noticed other users on this forum using it, then I installed on a Sol-Ark installation a few weeks ago. It's excellent, gives you Grafana charts, allows inverter setting changes, home assistant integration, etc: https://solar-assistant.io/

1632734543454.png

1632734936308.png

1632734831566.png

The way it works is you basically add a Raspberry PI to your solar installation which runs the software. See it as your replacement for Chinese cloud servers:

Data is stored on the PI, not in the cloud, but if you need remote access way from home your traffic goes through a US based proxy, which I checked resolves to IPs in the Amazon AWS network: https://solar-assistant.io/help/access/regions

It doesn't use the normal Sol-Ark WiFi dongle at all. You connect your inverter with the PI with a standard USB serial cable plugged into the inverter WiFI/RS232 port:

Software setup is really easy. Software is not free, but if you email them they activate a free trial. Probably the easiest path to see alternative monitoring on your system.
 

rickypr

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
May 23, 2020
Messages
21
Nice, how are you polling that data from that DB9 port of the wifi dongle? Is it just serial? Also, at what interval? Your charts look very detailed

I'm curious why you are transforming the data to sunspec models? This might post might be of interest for you as it's an already built integration for solark

That is right, the small green board you see in the picture connects to the inverter serial port. I started working on this because I wanted to have detailed graphs and integrate the inverter with my Home Assistant. (I can now turn off air conditioners or increase the thermostat when the grid goes down or the battery is low).

I am reading values from the inverter and mapping the values to Sunspec models 1 (general), 102 (inverter), 160 (mppt), 701 (grid meter), 713 (storage capacity) and 714 (DC measurements) every 5 seconds. This can be retrieved using Modbus TCP from any other device on the network. These values are also exported to an InfluxDB server. InfluxDB is a great time series database that has a web GUI with graphing capabilities and many more features. Grafana can also use InfluxDB as a data source.

My inverter is now sending data to both, a local InfluxDB server (always available) and a free server in InfluxDB Cloud (only 30 day retention). I did this because when the grid goes down, so does my Internet service. The data is sent to InfluxDB every 5 seconds but can be downsampled as needed to reduce the disk space requirements. I am downsampling to 5 minutes averages after 24 hours.

It can now also send events to IFTTT as was suggested by Scorch. Right now it only sends "grid status changed", "battery low" and "battery critical". I may add more events later if needed.

1632747982050.png

I am now working on the Web GUI which now shows live usage graphs without the need of an external server and after that I want to add it what I will call "configuration templates" where I want to have different configurations made by the user and apply them at the inverter by just changing the configuration template. Ex. Template for battery at 50% another for battery at 80% use.

It integrates with Home Assistant using the Home Assistant Sunspec plugin which discovers the Sunspec models and created entities automatically (great work from Johan Isacsson and his collaboratos).

Some screenshots from HA:

1632746012913.png

1632746085029.png

1632746195284.png

1632746876992.png

Some updated InfluxDB screenshots

1632747306166.png

1632747238037.png

1632747376813.png
 

rickypr

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
May 23, 2020
Messages
21
A really easy way to monitor your Sol-Ark inverter is with solar assistant. I noticed other users on this forum using it, then I installed on a Sol-Ark installation a few weeks ago. It's excellent, gives you Grafana charts, allows inverter setting changes, home assistant integration, etc: https://solar-assistant.io/

View attachment 66511

View attachment 66513

View attachment 66512

The way it works is you basically add a Raspberry PI to your solar installation which runs the software. See it as your replacement for Chinese cloud servers:

Data is stored on the PI, not in the cloud, but if you need remote access way from home your traffic goes through a US based proxy, which I checked resolves to IPs in the Amazon AWS network: https://solar-assistant.io/help/access/regions

It doesn't use the normal Sol-Ark WiFi dongle at all. You connect your inverter with the PI with a standard USB serial cable plugged into the inverter WiFI/RS232 port:

Software setup is really easy. Software is not free, but if you email them they activate a free trial. Probably the easiest path to see alternative monitoring on your system.
I looked into Solar Assistant and looks good. I didn't want to hook up a raspberry pi to the inverter and wanted to implement Sunspec. I like the idea of replacing the board inside the original dongle and keep everything looking nice.
 
Last edited:

robby

Solar Addict
Joined
May 1, 2021
Messages
534
A really easy way to monitor your Sol-Ark inverter is with solar assistant. I noticed other users on this forum using it, then I installed on a Sol-Ark installation a few weeks ago. It's excellent, gives you Grafana charts, allows inverter setting changes, home assistant integration, etc: https://solar-assistant.io/

View attachment 66511

View attachment 66513

View attachment 66512

The way it works is you basically add a Raspberry PI to your solar installation which runs the software. See it as your replacement for Chinese cloud servers:

Data is stored on the PI, not in the cloud, but if you need remote access way from home your traffic goes through a US based proxy, which I checked resolves to IPs in the Amazon AWS network: https://solar-assistant.io/help/access/regions

It doesn't use the normal Sol-Ark WiFi dongle at all. You connect your inverter with the PI with a standard USB serial cable plugged into the inverter WiFI/RS232 port:

Software setup is really easy. Software is not free, but if you email them they activate a free trial. Probably the easiest path to see alternative monitoring on your system.
Can you still use the Can port for closed loop battery monitong and can I still use the wifi dongle and powerview for data monitoring.
Thanks
 

denarius

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
Apr 8, 2021
Messages
29
Can you still use the Can port for closed loop battery monitong and can I still use the wifi dongle and powerview for data monitoring.
Thanks

Yes I still use the inverter CAN port to connect the battery BMS. This is the solar assistant settings pages:

1632767663693.png


1632766622125.png

If you want to use both the WiFi dongle with Powerview and SolarAssistant at the same time, then you need to connect solar assistant via the RS485 port instead of the WiFi/RS232 port as the latter port is already occupied by the dongle. The CAN port will still work as normal. The Sol-Ark RS485 cable is not a standard cable you can find in electronic shops. One optoin is to buy this cable and pay international shipping:

I asked if I can make the cable myself, then they said I can buy one of the cables below. I bought the first one:

Crimp it into RJ45 plug:

1632766854512.png

They gave the RJ45 pinout below. You only need to connect pins 1-3 OR 6-8. Both isn't needed, I only used pins 1 - 3.
1632766908222.png

The problem you might have with this whole thing is it seems there is a global shortage of Raspberry PIs until next year. Hopefully you already have one.
 

poldim

New Member
Joined
Jun 6, 2020
Messages
28
I also own a Solark unit which I like very much. Where I live I loose Internet access frequently and have made a custom PCB to replace the inner board of the Solark WiFi dongle. My goal is to have local monitoring and interact with other smart home components. It retrieves the information from the unit and transforms it into Sunspec models 102 and 160 (for now). My local HomeAssistant server already can retrieve the inverter values in real time using Modbus TCP. It provides inverter data using JSON format through an API and can publish values to an MQTT server and to InfluxDB (either to a local server or to their Cloud service). This is still under development, right now I am working on the web interface with live usage data. Here are some pictures of the progress, again still under development. Any recommendations on what features it should have? I think I would like to sell some units to recover some of the investment I made on my solar system.
What data are you able to get from the wifi port? Is it the same as all of the data available via modbus registers?
 

rickypr

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
May 23, 2020
Messages
21
What data are you able to get from the wifi port? Is it the same as all of the data available via modbus registers?

Yes, you could get all the Modbus registers using the wifi port (it is more like a serial port talking Modbus) I don't use all registers, there are 800+ 16 bit registers.
 

rickypr

Solar Enthusiast
Joined
May 23, 2020
Messages
21
are you able to share your PCB design?

I'm currently pulling the data via modbus using the component that another user here developed: https://github.com/pbix/HA-solark-PV
I am not sure if that project would be compatible with the ESP32. I know there is a project called MicroPython that runs on the ESP32 that COULD work, but I haven't tried it. PM if you have a good idea on how to do it and also to share information.
 

MrDan

New Member
Joined
May 17, 2021
Messages
7
Ha.. simpler than I thought..
In manual it states to
  1. Register your dongle via the app or www.mysol-ark.com

That immediately redirects you to https://pv.inteless.com/login
If you do a geographical traceroute on that domain it looks like this:
It looks like this has been beaten to death, but I'll give my $0.02. It does seem really odd that to me that a US company would host a telemetry and/or control system in China...unless...read more below.

I have some real world experience with servers in various parts of the world (including China) and so I've been able to see a little behind the curtain about how information storage services work in different regions of the world.

Probably the most straightforward place to run your service if you are a US company is in the US. The US regulations seem to be more relaxed than the EU or China with regards to running an online service if there is data being stored. I can't speak to other factors, but if your data is being stored and it can be personally identified then there are rules that govern a bunch of aspects of handling that data and running the service in the data center.

In China, I don't think there's any problem hosting data that belongs to citizens of another country who do not live in China in a non-China country. In other words, if you don't live in China, I don't really think China cares what you do with your data. If you do live in China, then China does care and they have rules about how services that store the data must operate.

In the EU (and maybe GB, not 100% sure post Brexit) they also have some specific rules when a company holds data that belongs to you, and some of the rules are tighter than the rules of the US (this is my understanding).

The US, even though a relatively large and modern country, is more like the Wild West. There are rules, but things (currently) seemed to be in favor of entrepreneur - a bit more lassie faire in terms of what people can do. If it's health data or financial data, all bets are off and the rules are pretty strict. But if it's data from your inverter and it's stored with your user account online, I think the rules are minimal; you probably need to be notified if there is a data breach, etc. But I don't think there is much else. I'm not even sure you are legally required to be notified, it probably depends on what type of data was breached.

As for a US company putting data from US citizens onto servers that are hosted in China, well the rules of China apply. Those are probably not the same rules that most Americans are used to. If China says to a Chinese company "Give us your records on this data" I think the company, if Chinese, is going to comply. If they are not a Chinese company, then I think it could become very complicated for said company. Again, I'm not saying they are bad rules, but given a choice, American customers might not be comfortable having their data governed by Chinese government rules. This is partially a cultural thing I think, being an American myself and thinking about privacy. But I do think that the Chinese should have the right to do their rules the way that they (collectively) see fit for themselves. Honestly I am not sure if most Chinese citizens really care about how their government handles their data; if they are happy with it who then am I to tell them they are wrong? (I would need citations or statistics here to prove/disprove this type of statement)

So finally, why would they (Sol-Ark) do it? I do not think that it would be more convenient for a US company to write their inverter controller's firmware and then host the telemetry service in AliCloud, compared to doing the same and hosting the service in Amazon AWS (I mean obviously if your data is stored in China that is not typically a selling point to most Americans). But if they didn't write the controller's firmware and someone in China did, then that WOULD make sense to me why it would be hosted in China. If you live in China and you write software, you and your company will probably have a practice of using a Chinese cloud. It's kind of natural.

Again, this is purely my opinion, I could be 100% wrong, and even if I'm right _what_does_it_matter_? I'm just trying to explain why it might be the way that it appears to be. I'm sure my personal data is already in AliCloud because I buy things from AliExpress (and Amazon). I've seen tons of stellar reviews of Sol-Ark inverters on YouTube, so it seems like the inverters are good. If anyone does have a legitimate concern I would just do what someone already suggested and either unplug/disconnect the network connection or block outbound traffic from the inverter to the internet. To be honest if they (Sol-Ark) really wanted to keep using a service in China but they wanted to disguise it they could just host a proxy in the US that your inverter connects to and receives from while they actually tunnel all of the data across the ocean to China. And if they did a good job about it you wouldn't know any better.

I think if you like the Sol-Ark inverter then you should buy it. If China does take over your inverter at some point in the future (AND I'M NOT SAYING THAT THEY CAN!), then you, me and everyone else has bigger problems to worry about.

Ok, I hope I didn't get anyone upset (Including Sol-Ark). Honestly we need a good old fashioned invasion from Klaxon so that humans can finally unite and agree on something :)

Cheers


PS - I've added the IPs and associated info that my Victron Cerbo GX is communicating with, just for curious:

35.165.124.40: OrgTechName: Amazon EC2 Network Operations
18.198.160.64: OrgTechName: Amazon EC2 Network Operations
52.28.98.25: OrgTechName: Amazon EC2 Network Operations
18.196.62.11: OrgTechName: Amazon EC2 Network Operations
 
Last edited:

robby

Solar Addict
Joined
May 1, 2021
Messages
534
It looks like this has been beaten to death, but I'll give my $0.02. It does seem really odd that to me that a US company would host a telemetry and/or control system in China...unless...read more below.

I have some real world experience with servers in various parts of the world (including China) and so I've been able to see a little behind the curtain about how information storage services work in different regions of the world.

Probably the most straightforward place to run your service if you are a US company is in the US. The US regulations seem to be more relaxed than the EU or China with regards to running an online service if there is data being stored. I can't speak to other factors, but if your data is being stored and it can be personally identified then there are rules that govern a bunch of aspects of handling that data and running the service in the data center.

In China, I don't think there's any problem hosting data that belongs to citizens of another country who do not live in China in a non-China country. In other words, if you don't live in China, I don't really think China cares what you do with your data. If you do live in China, then China does care and they have rules about how services that store the data must operate.

In the EU (and maybe GB, not 100% sure post Brexit) they also have some specific rules when a company holds data that belongs to you, and some of the rules are tighter than the rules of the US (this is my understanding).

The US, even though a relatively large and modern country, is more like the Wild West. There are rules, but things (currently) seemed to be in favor of entrepreneur - a bit more lassie faire in terms of what people can do. If it's health data or financial data, all bets are off and the rules are pretty strict. But if it's data from your inverter and it's stored with your user account online, I think the rules are minimal; you probably need to be notified if there is a data breach, etc. But I don't think there is much else. I'm not even sure you are legally required to be notified, it probably depends on what type of data was breached.

As for a US company putting data from US citizens onto servers that are hosted in China, well the rules of China apply. Those are probably not the same rules that most Americans are used to. If China says to a Chinese company "Give us your records on this data" I think the company, if Chinese, is going to comply. If they are not a Chinese company, then I think it could become very complicated for said company. Again, I'm not saying they are bad rules, but given a choice, American customers might not be comfortable having their data governed by Chinese government rules. This is partially a cultural thing I think, being an American myself and thinking about privacy. But I do think that the Chinese should have the right to do their rules the way that they (collectively) see fit for themselves. Honestly I am not sure if most Chinese citizens really care about how their government handles their data; if they are happy with it who then am I to tell them they are wrong? (I would need citations or statistics here to prove/disprove this type of statement)

So finally, why would they (Sol-Ark) do it? I do not think that it would be more convenient for a US company to write their inverter controller's firmware and then host the telemetry service in AliCloud, compared to doing the same and hosting the service in Amazon AWS (I mean obviously if your data is stored in China that is not typically a selling point to most Americans). But if they didn't write the controller's firmware and someone in China did, then that WOULD make sense to me why it would be hosted in China. If you live in China and you write software, you and your company will probably have a practice of using a Chinese cloud. It's kind of natural.

Again, this is purely my opinion, I could be 100% wrong, and even if I'm right _what_does_it_matter_? I'm just trying to explain why it might be the way that it appears to be. I'm sure my personal data is already in AliCloud because I buy things from AliExpress (and Amazon). I've seen tons of stellar reviews of Sol-Ark inverters on YouTube, so it seems like the inverters are good. If anyone does have a legitimate concern I would just do what someone already suggested and either unplug/disconnect the network connection or block outbound traffic from the inverter to the internet. To be honest if they (Sol-Ark) really wanted to keep using a service in China but they wanted to disguise it they could just host a proxy in the US that your inverter connects to and receives from while they actually tunnel all of the data across the ocean to China. And if they did a good job about it you wouldn't know any better.

I think if you like the Sol-Ark inverter then you should buy it. If China does take over your inverter at some point in the future (AND I'M NOT SAYING THAT THEY CAN!), then you, me and everyone else has bigger problems to worry about.

Ok, I hope I didn't get anyone upset (Including Sol-Ark). Honestly we need a good old fashioned invasion from Klaxon so that humans can finally unite and agree on something :)

Cheers


PS - I've added the IPs and associated info that my Victron Cerbo GX is communicating with, just for curious:

35.165.124.40: OrgTechName: Amazon EC2 Network Operations
18.198.160.64: OrgTechName: Amazon EC2 Network Operations
52.28.98.25: OrgTechName: Amazon EC2 Network Operations
18.196.62.11: OrgTechName: Amazon EC2 Network Operations
Its been established that Sol-Ark designed and built the original 8K hardware in the USA. You cannot design and build hardware unless your designing the firmware at the same time. I would assume that after Sol-Ark finished the first batch of units and decided to go into mass produce in China they needed to include a Webpage portal and an App. If I was running the company during these early stages when cash is always tight, I would just use an already existing well proven Vendor and just give them the interface command structure to integrate my Inverter into their Platform. This would save me from having to hire several programmers and then wait on code to be written and debugged. Keep in mind they had the Inverter ready to go, so delays would be very costly.
I would assume that Chinese software companies had the best prices so they chose Powerview and then switched over to PV-Pro from some reason. I find the PV-Pro App to be a mixed bag but the Web Portal version is pretty good.
E-Linter the company that makes the App and Web System and they seem to run their own cloud based servers, so maybe this was just part of the package deal.

Sol-Ark just finished Moving into their new facility.
 

MrDan

New Member
Joined
May 17, 2021
Messages
7
You cannot design and build hardware unless your designing the firmware at the same time.
I don't know how you could logically prove this ^ to be a true statement. If this reasoning is pushed to the extreme, you might say "the same person who designed the hardware has to design the firmware at the same time". If you say, "well it doesn't have to be the same person but they need to be on the same team", then the logic of the argument is lost. It then becomes a matter of efficiency between teams working on a product, but different subsystems of that product, and it is no longer impossible ("cannot"). They need not even be part of the same company. Look at cell phones and their modems; multiple companies will collaborate on those systems.

If we are talking about a microprocessor and it's execution architecture then I would agree that the firmware and the hardware are probably best created in a tightly coupled manner. But the people who designed the PIC Microcontroller did so many years ago, but I can still write functioning firmware for it. But even in this case we do see a decoupling between the ARM processor and licensees who end up making modifications to it.

It's because of this that we have mass produced items today and supply chains. There are many examples of companies that "don't do everything" when a product is made. An alternator in a car is an assembly that is part of a bigger assembly that also contains other subassemblies. This is modern engineering. I imagine inside an inverter there are many common engineering patterns to be found, from board level communications to safety engineering features and so on.

Honestly It seems like the power electronics can probably be decoupled from the control system in an inverter, and that a company could pretty easily substitute one control system for another, first by implementing the correct electrical interface to the power electronics and then by writing the firmware. This could be done years after the power electronics were completed.

In fact, Tesla is updating the actual electronics in some of it's car's computers for newer computer versions for the full self driving software.

But I don't have any way to know if Sol-Ark did or did not design the firmware or the hardware unless they choose to reveal the facts to me. I don't care either way honestly, I'm just trying to respond to your statement that appears to contain a logical fallacy.

Please don't take offense - I just have a difference of opinion. And again, I never, ever, said that Sol-Ark wasn't a good product or a good company, and I went out of my way in the previous post to make sure that I made that clear.
 
Top