When it’s not possible to locate an SMA inverter using Sunny Explorer or other SMA communication devices, SMA CONNECTION ASSIST is the perfect tool to use. SMA Connection Assist can be used to change the inverter’s network setting using Speedwire connection. As every installation site has its own level of network security, many high-level network securities require a static IP address setup so that the IP address of the inverter doesn’t come into conflict with the IP address of the devices used by the client on a daily basis.
What is SMA Connection Assist?
SMA Connection Assist is a network commissioning tool and is the ideal solution for circumstances when automatic network configuration is not possible and manual commissioning is required. With the SMA Connection Assist, SMA devices can be integrated into any local area or home network with only a few clicks. The commissioning tool assists users with all necessary adjustments by analysing local conditions and recommending manual configuration options.
The importance of IP addresses
Understanding the use of Internet Protocol (IP) addresses is important for accessing the user-interface of most SMA communication devices. Changing the network settings on SMA communication devices allows the user to set the IP address that they desire. There are two types of IP addresses:
- Dynamic IP : Changes based on the IP address assigned by the network to which it is connected
- Static IP : IP address remains the same at all times
All SMA communication devices are Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) enabled which means when connected to the network router of the customer, then the DHCP-enabled router will assign a Dynamic IP address to the device. For sites where the router has a firewall security set-up for privacy reasons, then a static IP address is recommended. This would ensure that the router’s firewall doesn’t block the inverter’s IP address.
IP Channel Talk
Only IP addresses of a similar range are able to communicate with each other. For a channel to be established, the inverter’s IP address has to be in the same range as the router. The first three numbers in an IP address should be exactly the same while the last number should range between 1-255. For example, if the Gateway IP of the router is 192.168.1.1 and the inverter IP range is 169.254.1.100, then the inverter would not be able to communicate with the router. An example of an IP address that would be able to communicate with the router is 192.168.1.15
SMA Webconnect Module
The communication device used in conjunction with SMA Connection Assist is the SMA Webconnect module. This device is either built-in or optional for most of the latest models of SMA grid-tied inverters such as the Sunny Boy and Sunny Tripower inverters. The network settings on this device can be changed by using the SMA Connection Assist.
Similar to other SMA communication devices, the SMA Webconnect module is DHCP-enabled and so, the router assigns an IP address to the inverter once it is connected via ethernet cable.
How to set a static IP address on an inverter (when the router has a firewall):
In instances where the router has a firewall which blocks the inverter IP address, the following steps can be taken to set a static IP address on the inverter.
(1) Create a static IP address using the router’s interface which will not be blocked by the firewall and will not be used for other devices. For example, create 192.168.1.123 for a case where the gateway IP of the route is 192.168.1.1 (Refer to a router’s manual to understand how to create a static IP on that specific router).
(2) Download SMA Connection Assist from the following link onto your PC: http://www.sma.de/en/products/monitoring-control/sma-connection-assist.html
(4) After the ethernet cable connection is setup, run the SMA Connection Assist and search for the devices in the local Speedwire network. The information on the right-hand side of the interface of SMA Connection Assist provides guidance regarding each step of the process.
(5) Using SMA Connection Assist, under the tab ‘Change network settings’, you are able to assign a static IP address to the inverter that you have created in the router’s interface.
(6) Eventually after transfer of the settings have initialised, the Webconnect module will promptly change to a static IP address which will allow the inverter to communicate under a secured network through firewall.
SMA Connection Assist can also provide assistance for other troubleshooting issues. For example, if you have forgotten the static IP address of an inverter and you are no longer able to detect the device on Sunny Portal or Sunny Explorer, SMA Connection Assist is able to detect the device and change the settings from static IP address to Dynamic IP address. This allows the router to assign a new IP address to the inverter to connect to the internet. After this process, Sunny Explorer is able to detect the device.
SMA Connection Assist is an easy-to-use, user-friendly and flexible tool to configure a static IP address on SMA inverters, depending on a site’s specific requirements. This tool works for SMA’s latest inverter models that have a built-in SMA Webconnect module connected via Speedwire network to a computer. What makes SMA unique in the PV industry is that it not only builds world-class leading inverters, but full solutions to best ensure installers and customers get the most out of their renewable energy system. Along with the range of communication devices offered with inverters, SMA also provide technical support through complimentary troubleshooting software such as SMA Connection Assist. If you need a solar solution, you can be sure to achieve it using SMA’s suite of solutions.
Poojan Modi (guest author)
Poojan is a Service Engineer in the Australian service team of SMA.