Starting immediately, all private system operators can monitor their solar systems online. This is now possible because all current Sunny Boy inverters of up to 6 kilowatts come with a Webconnect interface as a standard feature. The devices thus have free access to online monitoring. We would like to answer some questions on the subject of online monitoring with Webconnect.
What are the advantages of all this?
Online monitoring ensures your yields for the long term—and therefore your investment. In contrast to on-site monitoring, you can access your system data from any computer, tablet or smart phone connected to the Internet. This makes the power generated by photovoltaics transparent at all times.
What exactly is Webconnect?
Webconnect is an SMA feature that functions as the technical interface between the inverter and Internet. This interface allows inverters to access two SMA online portals at the same time: The known Sunny Portal and relatively new Sunny Places, our community portal.
Which inverters are now equipped with Webconnect?
Almost all inverters now have online capability. The Sunny Boy TL, its little Single Tracker brother and the small 1.3 to 2.1 kW Sunny Boys now all come with a Webconnect interface as a standard feature*. The Sunny Boy 240 module inverter and the 5 to 12 kW Sunny Tripowers also have integrated Webconnect technology.
Important note: Before ordering and purchasing the inverter from the installer, please make sure that it belongs to the Sunny Boy series including the integrated Webconnect functionality.
What else do I need?
Just an Internet connection and a router, which most people already have in their homes. Plug the inverter’s network cable into the router and register on Sunny Portal. The connection is simply plug-and-play.
Do I have to make a decision whether to use Sunny Portal or Sunny Places?
No. You do have to register on Sunny Portal initially and activate your system there. However, after that you can include your system in Sunny Places and use both portals in parallel. Sunny Portal, the world’s largest online portal for photovoltaic systems, offers many options for displaying and analyzing data, while the new Sunny Places community portal focuses on clear visualization and communication with other system operators.
Will I also need a Sunny WebBox?
No, with private, traditional photovoltaic systems it’s not necessary to use the Sunny WebBox. Here, the options offered by Sunny Portal and Sunny Places are fully sufficient for most users. We recommend the Sunny WebBox for operators of larger systems, who would like a higher level of detail in the analysis and visualization of their system data.
SMA also offers Sunny Explorer. What do I need that for?
Sunny Explorer is SMA’s service tool. In principle, it’s only needed if a solar system is, or is to be, operated without an Internet connection. In this case, it can be used for local monitoring. If there is access to Sunny Portal and Sunny Places—as, for example, when Sunny Boy inverters are used with standard Webconnect—it’s unnecessary for many customers.
Can I still equip an inverter with an optional interface, such as the one for RS485?
Of course. Current inverters, such as the Sunny Boy TL and the TL Single Tracker, can be integrated without any problem in systems that communicate via RS485. The optional RS485 interface makes this possible. Communication via Bluetooth® also continues to be possible with current inverter versions. Devices, such as the Sunny Boy TL and the TL Single Tracker, have the Bluetooth interface installed as a standard feature, while other inverters, such as the Sunny Boy 1300 TL, 1600 TL and 2100 TL, can be retrofitted with the interface upon request.
I hope we were able to answer all of your questions. If you have additional questions, simply write a message in the comments and we will be happy to answer.
*applies as of production date October 1, 2014
Peter Menzel (guest author)
Peter works at SMA as a copywriter in the Department of Product Communications Medium Power Solutions.