Utilising system monitoring tools available with SMA is one of the easiest ways to ensure a system is operating as expected. It also improves the ability to troubleshoot a system in the unlikely event that something goes wrong. Setting up communications links between various components within the SMA system solution is vital when attempting to set up monitoring. To this end there are a variety of options available to achieve communications links.
1st Option: Webconnect / Speedwire
This is the easiest way to ensure a simple, highly reliable communication connection is made within an SMA system solution. An Ethernet cable link between devices (either directly, through a daisy chain or star configuration, or via a modem-router), allows data to be transmitted between devices in the system. Communication to Sunny Portal or Sunny Places is then easily facilitated through the modem and ensures the highest level of data non-repudiation.
2nd Option: Power-line Communications (PLC)
In some installation locations, routing of Ethernet cable to create a hardwired connection between components is either difficult or not possible. In such situations the next simplest solution can be to use PLC. PLC involves using special adapters and a site’s AC wiring infrastructure to make the communications link as depicted below.
While simple to install, this method of establishing communications has some restrictions. Electrical noise in AC wiring can cause the data being transmitted to be lost. It also requires each adapter to be connected to the same phase and circuit otherwise the communication signal will be lost. When using PLC adapters it is important to ensure they support Multicast / IGMP otherwise they will not be able to properly transmit and receive the SMA data feed.
3rd Option: Wi-Fi Bridges
If a communication link via Ethernet or PLC adapters is not practicable, a WiFi bridge is another option available to establish communications.
When using WiFi bridges it is important to ensure they support Multicast / IGMP otherwise they will not be able to properly transmit and receive the SMA data feed. Setting up a WiFi bridge will also likely require the use of a laptop to configure the device, and information about the site’s wireless network through which communication is being facilitated.
The practicalities of establishing communications sometimes mean the preferred method, Speedwire, isn’t always possible. In these situations, the installer and system owner can choose from the options presented above to decide what method best suits their need. Whether communications are established by Speedwire, PLC or a WiFi bridge, including system monitoring with an SMA system is one of the cheapest and simplest ways to protect that investment and ensure it continues to provide clean power for the system owner.
Any questions? Feel free to comment below.
I lead the Application Engineering department at SMA Australia, which provides pre-sales technical support for Residential, Commercial and Utility scale systems. I also work closely with Product Management to help refine SMA's solutions to be better suited to market requirements.
Market issues, SMA product suitability, new business opportunities, Asia Pacific Region (APAC)
Reading to my children, volunteering at my local football club, skiing, wine tasting (only good wine though)
What even my colleagues don’t know about me:
Have travelled to Nepal to deliver and install a rural hospital solar lighting aid project. Received my Gold Duke of Edinburgh’s award personally from Prince Phillip in 2004. Once spent a night lost in the wilderness on a trek because our group was reading the map upside down.