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  • Sunpower monitoring

    I installed a 23 panel SPR-X22-360 Sunpower system through IPS back in September. They have a 25 year warranty. But when the system was installed the technician told me I could not monitor the individual panels, only the overall output. This concerns me because an inverter or panel failure would result in a small drop (1/23) that would be difficult to detect. I don't have a lot of confidence in someone or a system, monitoring the panels, and contacting me when a problem occurs.

    I've started collecting output data in a spreadsheet, hoping that if the output starts to drop off , I can spot it. But even this is difficult to do as there are no report mechanisms in either the sunpower or Locus app that output the report data to a file.

    There is an API for the Locus app, but it appears you need to service account to login and collect the data.

    Anyone have any ideas how to get more reliable information on my system? Thanks.
    Starts
    04-08-2020
    Ends
    04-08-2020
    Location
    Concord, MA

  • #2
    SPR-X22-360 Sunpower describes the panels. It doesn't tell us anything about your inverter(s). IPS sounds like the company that installed the system. I don't know what they use.

    Systems that use microinverters have the ability to monitor each panel. The most common microinverter brand is Enphase. Another is APsystems. As a broad sweeping generalization, microinverter systems are more expensive (but not always).

    Systems that use one central inverter don't have the ability to monitor individual panels. There are a few common brands. With one central inverter, many panels are connected in a series circuit and the ends of the series go to the inverter. The inverter and the monitoring electronics has no access to the individual panel terminals so can't monitor each panel. This sounds like yours.

    When you read total output, is it a cell phone app? Is it a website? If either of those, what is the name of the software? That is probably the same name as the maker of your inverter(s). Let us know and we might be able to help with more advice.
    7kW Roof PV, APsystems QS1 micros, Nissan Leaf EV

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    • #3
      Unless you take a lot of what most folks would consider extraordinary measures, it's very difficult to detect a small (1/23) drop in output. For one thing, you'
      ll need a pyranometer. You'll also probably make things a bit more reliable in terms of confidence in your numbers from enough (that is, a lot of) measurements of irradiance inputs, weather and coincident output to be able to see trends and use statistics on what you measure to spot trends. The numbers you get then become probability distributions. You can spot trends but you won't get a smoking gun.

      Been at it for > 6 1/2 yrs. w/16 ea. Sunpower 327's and a 5 kW, 2 circuit inverter with lots of recorded data and measurements on a pretty much daily basis. I don't have micros or optimizers and monitor string parameters and outputs at 5 minute intervals and all weather data including GHI at 1 minute intervals with a Davis Pro II + weather station located ` 4 ft. N of the array. I believe I've got the system dialed in pretty good, but I'm also pretty sure I'd only have a chance at spotting something as small as a coup[le % drop if suck an anomaly persisted for a few days or a week and that's only because of the amount of data and the statistical analysis it enables and also because I watch the system like a hark.

      Lastly, without a way to know what the input is, you'll be hard pressed to get confidence on any rolloff in performance unless it's quite large or some visible damage occurs.

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      • #4
        My system uses Enphase microinverters, ( IQ 7XS (IQ7XS-96-ACM-US)) on each panel. The production meter is a Locus meter, and the Monitoring device is a Sunpower PV6. The PV6 is hardwired to my router. I use 2 Web apps to look at the power output. The Sunpower app appears to be reading data from the MicroInverters. The Locus app reads the actual power delivered to house panel. The Locus number is about 6% lower than the Sunpower numbers, probably due to losses in the system.

        Neither of these apps allows me to download data. I suppose if I want output from each inverter I'd need to mirror the PV6 traffic and decode the data stream. I could also build an HTML scraper to pull the production data off the Locus web page. That alone would save having to input the data manually which is the primary goal of this exercise.

        Ideally the Locus API looks most promising, but I need a service account to access it.

        Thanks.

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        • #5
          For months and months I had a banner on my SunPower monitor page (https://monitor.us.sunpower.com/) that the data from my The PVS5x in my Equinox system is intermittent and has missing/ erroneous data points. No Kidding!

          The banner disappeared about a month ago and indeed there are fewer missing data, fewer gaps in it and fewer impossibly large power usage spikes. BUT... it now takes more than 3 hours for the data to update. It is impossible to get current generation and consumption numbers. Anybody have any insights into this? As much as I regretted to do it, I called support. As I anticipated, it is less than useless and more than frustrating.

          I am able to get more current information from the "partner" site, but it is less convenient to get to and the site requires Adobe Flash, not supported on my Android device. While I was on the phone with "support", I asked if SunPower was upgrading the "partner" site since Windows and most browsers will not support Flash at the end this year. The answer was NO. And even more concerning was that the "support person" said there will no longer be any way to see individual panel performance via the monitoring system. I'm not even sure it will be available to the system owner and homeowner via the installer interface in the PVS5x. That will certainly be a bigger inconvenience.

          Has anyone heard anything on this?

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          • #6
            The error banner you describe is consistent with what I was seeing. I had it on my system from go-live in September 2019 until recently. And like you I've recently noticed a lag in the reported data, typically about 3 hours behind current time. Hmm, wonder if this could be a timezone bug in their code - PDT vs EDT .

            As to getting data on individual panels, this was a huge disappointment to me when my system went live in September. The installer told me SunPower decided not to expose panel data because customers were calling with non-problems, such as leaves covering the panels and other environmental issues. My big concern is who is monitoring the panels and micro-inverters if one or more should fail. I don't have faith that SunPower has a reliable algorithum to extract and report any faults.

            SPR-X22-360 Panels
            IQ 7XS (IQ7XS-96-ACM-US Enphase microinverters
            PV6 Sunpower monitor

            Comment


            • #7
              jmand73,
              Based on your report, it seems my experiences may be system-wide. Looks like there are all sorts of bugs in their process, their server, their firmware. The 3 hour delay in updating the data is based on elapsed time, not real time, so I doubt that particular problem is a time zone bug. That's more like an intentional slow-down.

              You are right, depending on SunPower to report faults is folly, in my opinion. I'm sure they do not monitor everyone's equipment and would not bear the expense of doing it. They certainly didn't report that one of my panels failed, i.e. no output, when a squirrel ate the DC wires under the panel. Even though the panel was replaced at my expense, their actions and response were horrible.The system that was described to me and that I purchased included the ability to see individual panels operation. I now wonder if I will need to seek some regulatory and/or legal recourse.

              Comment


              • #8
                Jmand73 - anymore activity/responses with your issues? I'll say again, the partner site is still up - you just can't log in anymore. SunPower does have the ability to see per panel production.
                However, how one gets SunPower to look into panel production is non-existent. There is no way for the customer to get SunPower to fully examine total system production,let alone per panel production.

                I'm still researching ways to hack the system and get per panel data.

                In the meantime, I'm just using the monitoring site everyone else uses and download data daily which does show dips in production between the hours of 6am to 12pm and then again between 2pm and 6 pm. I'm also recording daily temps and my thermostat setting daily to see if/how temperature affects production.

                My system will have been in production for 1 year come this October.

                Keep us all posted on any changes.

                Comment


                • #9
                  FWIW, my installer has had little/no luck in getting info on restoring old data to end users. I believe residential S.P. owners/users are S.O.L with respect to seeing the old, enhanced 5 minute data in the future. Also, my installer has access to the old data format. He claims he'll get his peepee wacked if S.P. finds out he made the enhanced data available to me.

                  After seeing the levels of solar sophistication from posters here for the last 7 years or so, I don't doubt for 1 hot minute that S.P. sees solar ignorant users' questions as a PITA, and I'm sure they get a lot of that, but I'm just as sure there's a better way to handle it than limiting access to the information. I suppose it's a marketing decision.

                  It was probably done as much as a cost saving move as it was a way to cut off the source of embarrassing questions about the crappy way their micros are performing from users who also don't have a clue about what to look for. The enhanced stuff has been around longer than my system and it went away when all this micro crap started.

                  If it's any help, I keep a pretty sharp eye on my output in ways I've described previously. So far, that is, since the more enhanced output had been unavailable to me, the daily cartoon/ output summaries S.P. pukes out have matched my observed and calculated output within a few '.00's of a kWh - about the same precision and conformance as it was doing before the enhanced output went away.

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                  • #10
                    Anyone know what the Bluetooth capability of the PVS6 is? I can pair my devices to the PVS6 but don't know if there are any commands I can issue and how to send commands to get results.

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                    • #11
                      Regarding the meager data that seems to be all that is available from the systems we own, does anybody know if S.P. disabled the cellular (SIM card) link that was reporting the detailed data to the server? Mine (in my PVS5) is no longer functional. Both my wifi and the Power Line-ethernet adaptor links to my network are ok. Is disabling the cellular connection how they disabled the availability of the detailed panel data? I can't tell is my sim card/PV5S are defective or if they have disabled it. Any thoughts?

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Regarding the meager data that seems to be all that is available from the systems we own, does anybody know if S.P. disabled the cellular (SIM card) link that was reporting the detailed data to the server? Mine (in my PVS5) is no longer functional. Both my wifi and the Power Line-ethernet adaptor links to my network are ok. Is disabling the cellular connection how they disabled the availability of the detailed panel data? I can't tell is the sim card in the PVS5 is defective or if they have disabled it. Any thoughts?

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