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commissioning Sunny Boy inverter and connecting it to WLAN

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  • commissioning Sunny Boy inverter and connecting it to WLAN

    So I finally got my 4+ kW ground-mount grid-tie system working, that I've been building for about 6 months and lurking and asking questions here for longer than that.

    Today was a tense day, as I did line-side taps. One reason I did this was because it would've been very cramped to add a double-pole breaker to my main panel. But the main reason is that I wanted to add a double-pole breaker (interlocked with the main breaker) for a generator connection (not really a generator, but rather a 1kW inverter powered off our EV). Thankfully the AHJ realized this was an un-sound plan: since there would've been no good way to interlock the generator breaker with both the main breaker and the solar breaker, the GTI and "generator" could end up shorted together, with lord knows what result. So, line-side taps. So I had to do a dance where: POCO pulls meter, I connect GTI to cables from meter base to main breaker, AHJ inspects this and faxes approval to POCO, POCO comes and re-installs meter; any one of those steps goes wrong and we're without power - which would be damn unpleasant in August in North Carolina. The only step that worried me was the line-side taps themselves, as I've never worked with those before, and you gotta get 'em right the first time (torque-regulating bolt breaks off). But I digress.

    Commissioning the inverter simply consists of plugging in the fusible disconnect between it and the line-side taps, and the switching on the DC disconnect (built into the SunnyBoy). LEDs blink awhile, and before you know it, the little LED display is reporting the wattage being generated, etc.

    Connecting the thing to my WLAN (local wifi network) was a bit tougher though. The manual that came with the inverter was virtually useless; fortunately the telephone support people are actually quite helpful. Here's the key: The inverter actually creates its own wifi network, and you first have to connect to that network, which should show up under the list of available wifi networks on your computer (or phone, I suppose). The network name is "SMA[serial#]" (using your inverter's serial#); the password is "SMA12345". Three oddities though. First, my Macbook Air kept cycling through the bars on the little wifi icon on the top toolbar, the way it does while attempting to connect to a wifi network, but it's actually probably already connected. Second, the blue LED on the inverter needs to be illuminated for the thing to connect, and if it's not illuminated, what you have to do - and, as Dave Barry says, I SWEAR I'm NOT making this up - what you have to do is to whack the inverter twice in quick succession on the lower-right corner of the black cover at the bottom of the inverter (the cover you removed to make all the wire connections) with something fairly hard like a screwdriver handle. And third, once you connect and set up the inverter, the password changes to a very long one that should be listed (barely legibly) under "WPA2" on the sticker on the back of your manual; and apparently you can never change it to something more reasonable or memorable.

    Then, while connected to your inverter's wifi network, you go to URL 192.168.12.3 and set a password. When logged in there, select "start the installation assistant" from a dropdown menu in the upper-right corner, and from there then you can attempt to connect the thing to YOUR wifi network.

    Then you have to go to sunnyportal-dot-com and register your inverter (using two more mysterious numbers, PIC ad RID, also on the sticker on the manual) and set up an account. This is where you will actually keep track of your system's configuration and performance. Although, it actually looks like this may not provide you with as much real-time performance info as being logged into the inverter itself - for example, the performance of your individual strings; unfortunately this requires to first connect to the inverter's wifi network, and then to log into the inverter over that network (as described above).

    Hope this all helps ...
    Last edited by RShackleford; 08-14-2020, 12:18 AM.

  • #2
    Thanks for the update. Glad it is all working. Time to sit under that shade structure and enjoy the energy you are producing.

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    • #3
      Ahhhh Grasshopper, you have learned well the SMA monitoring setup procedure....
      Yes, SMA inverters have always used an acoustic sensor to communicate to the inverter. More reliable than a mechanical switch is the thinking. On the latest generation, it can be a bit frustrating as there are portions of its cycle that it doesn't seem to listen. You don't have to knock hard - (only just like knocking on your front door) but have to keep going until it is ready to hear you. The older models were better, a rap on the display would get a response every time...
      Another sure fire way of getting comm with the internal software is to just plug in an Ethernet cable directly to the port inside and then use the I.P. address that shows up on the display.
      Oh, and if you ever have to deal with an intermittent arc fault and need to reset the error message, get into edit mode in the "Device" menu and then the "Operation" sub menu and do the
      'Reset Operation Inhibition".
      Enjoy your solar - SMA has the best reliability in the industry.
      BSEE, R11, NABCEP, Chevy BoltEV, >2500kW installed

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Ampster View Post
        Thanks for the update. Glad it is all working. Time to sit under that shade structure and enjoy the energy you are producing.
        It's remarkably cool under there, more so than it seems like it'd be under a similarly-dimensioned tin roof. Maybe something to do with the panels absorbing all that energy.

        We are torn between putting a bouldering cave under it, or a repository for trash cans and garden tools.

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