SMA has introduced a new method of monitoring PV systems and transmitting data to its free online monitoring tool, Sunny Portal. Webconnect provides easy access to Sunny Portal via existing Internet access and DSL router, without the need for an additional data logger. It is now available as a factory-integrated or retrofit feature for many of SMA’s Sunny Boy inverter models.
How does this compare to SMA’s established Sunny WebBox system? Let’s first take a deeper look at the new Webconnect.
Webconnect: How does it work?
Webconnect provides direct data transmission from the inverter to Sunny Portal via an Ethernet cable. Data is streamed “live” similar to the way that live video is transmitted.
With SMA’s next generation of string inverters the system data is stored inside the inverters. For the Sunny Boy 240-US micro inverter, information is kept within the Sunny Multigate, a groundbreaking technology that maximizes system reliability and enables greater energy production.
When these inverters are equipped with Webconnect, this data is gathered and sent directly to Sunny Portal. Data retrieval can also be done locally using Sunny Explorer, a Windows-based software for PC. Connection to Sunny Portal is not required for data retrieval, but Webconnect must be installed with the correct time and date stamping. This local connection between Sunny Explorer and the Webconnect is referred to as “Speedwire,” an SMA-specific protocol based on Ethernet.
Sunny Portal Registration with Webconnect
The “Plant Setup Assistant” contacts Webconnect over the Internet and, if a connection is established, you will be asked to enter its PIC and RID numbers. The PIC and RID numbers are located on the Webconnect label and on a separate sticker. Once the Webconnect module is installed inside the inverter, it is difficult to read the PIC and RID numbers. Have these available when starting the registration process. The separate sticker should be adhered to the inverter for quick reference after registration.
Once the PIC and RID numbers are identified by the “Plant Setup Assistant,” the rest is basic data entry. You must set a PV plant password; it can’t be the default passwords of 1111 or 0000. If this is the first time you’ve registered with your email on Sunny Portal, you will be emailed your password for signing in to Sunny Portal.
Sunny Portal Registration with Sunny WebBox
Thanks to the new “Sunny WebBox Assistant,” setting up a Sunny WebBox could not be simpler. The data logger setup is completed in six easy steps:
2. Selection of the installation type (new plant, existing plant, device replacement)
3. System settings (name, plant time, automatic updates)
4. Network settings (fixed IP, DHCP, Proxy)
5. Data settings (Sunny Portal registration, FTP)
6. Summary (profile saving, print out, connection test)
The registration process for Sunny WebBox has not changed and is conducted through the local interface on site. The “Plant Setup Assistant” is not for registering Sunny WebBox. Customers often ask where the PIC and RID numbers are located in order to register their Sunny WebBox, but they do not exist for these devices. Click here to download the complete guide to setting up a Sunny WebBox.
Features and Limitations: Webconnect vs. Sunny WebBox
Knowing that the Webconnect is a more economical option, you may wonder why you would ever need a Sunny WebBox. The answer is simple: The Sunny WebBox has additional features that might be required or desired. Below is a comparison of features of both options.
- Plug-and-play installation, with no wire terminations, is just like plugging a computer into a router/switch
- Automatic configuration and setup, DHCP, Portal Setup Assistant
- Automatic product updates ensure that device firmware is always up to date
- Star, ring or daisy-chain wiring allowed, just like a LAN
- Limit of four devices per plant on Sunny Portal (aimed at residential and small commercial PV systems)
- No RS485 or Bluetooth connection/integration, which means no Sunny SensorBox (at this time)
- No RPC, FTP, Flashview or Modbus capabilities
- No custom pages on Sunny Portal
- No option for wireless connection to inverter
- Up to 50 devices per Sunny WebBox/ PV Plant
- RS485 and Bluetooth options, can connect to Sunny SensorBox
- Wireless Bluetooth connection to inverter is possible
- RCP, Flashview, FTP and Modbus capable
- Able to build custom pages on Sunny Portal
- Not plug and play, screw terminals and specific pin-out for wiring, jumpers placed correctly
- Manual configuration required, some networking knowledge needed
- Daisy chain is the only configuration allowed (RS485)
To learn more about the features and benefits of the Webconnect and Sunny WebBox, visit the SMA America website and click “Monitoring Systems.”
***Modbus capabilities (both SMA and SunSpec) have been added to the Sunny Tripower with firmware 2.70.02 R (2014) and Sunny Boy TL-US with firmware 2.62.30R (2015) when using Webconnect technology.
Sr. Technical Service Specialist
High level technical support of SMA communications and software products
My Hobbies: Electronics tinkerer, puzzle games like Sudoku, reading (mostly non-fiction, technical)