Solar 4G IOT logger

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This customer is into solar roof top plants solution with end customers mainly industrial segments, where there is large power consumption and roof top is available. Once the plant is erected, monitoring the plant performance has become very crucial for them. Initially they were using off the shelf IOT devices, but they were very costly and doesn’t offer any customized solutions.

The Requirement

The customer wants to develop a 4G IOT logger, specifically for solar rooftops, which will be cost-effective and customizable. Some Industries operate the solar plant along with diesel generators (DG), in that case, the solar plant generation has to be adjusted according to the load demand. Reverse flow to the DG should be avoided. Apart from this, there are some customers, who are yet to obtain grid export permission. For such customers, the solar plants will be operated, but, will produce only that much required for the load, and don’t allow any grid export. Apart from this, the logger should need to post the data to the cloud and should have an array of digital and analog inputs, USB expansion ports, Ethernet communication ports, isolated RS485 ports, etc. The device should also have the facility of talking multiple protocols to communicate with field inverters and other solar devices.

The Solution

Gauranga opted for a Linux SOC platform for developing these solutions. Analog inputs, digital inputs, and other RS485 buses were integrated with this Linux SOC, and full fledged running system was achieved in quick time.

Challenges Overcome

  • Protocol decoding was a challenging task and it imposed a block if the protocol had been more complex than it was found after decoding.

  • Complex development of Linux board support packages due to low-level system programming.

  • Development of 4G hardware sections, with proper antenna and signal reception.

  • Interfacing many IOs, and RS485 ports with Linux SOC in both hardware and firmware wise

  • Implementations of different server communications, VPN for remote configurations

  • DG Synchronization and controlling the solar plant according to the load.

Results Observed

The data logger is currently in production mode, with close to 500+ installations on the field. The customer can manage all his data sitting from his office and can have remote connectivity with each plant for any debugging or configurations. The customer uses the data for plant performances and runs further analytics on the data to decide on plant cleaning and maintenance activities. Currently, these solar loggers are used to monitor close to 400MW solar power across various rooftop plants.