Thursday, 22 March 2012

Sunny Beam Monitor and the New FiT Rates.


As many of you will be aware I'm entirely underwhelmed by the software contained within the SMA Sunny Beam Monitor. The imminent increase in the FiT tariff taking place on the 1st April 2012 illustrates its limitations. 

My monitor is currently set-up to calculate revenue based on the existing FiT rate of 43.3p + (1.55p (Export tariff of 3.1p divided by 50%)). You can adjust this setting on the monitor by selecting "Settings>Display Options>Coefficients of Balance". Mine is currently set to .4485p.
My problem comes after April 1st. If I adjust the monitor to reflect the new value, 45.4 p + 1.55p (the export rate isn't altering) I automatically increase ALL of the generated output from the past year by the new rate....SMA in their wisdom have made no facility to calculate multiple rates.

Those of you who want to record the output and revenue generated are faced with three stark choices.
  1. Ignore the new FiT rate and carry-on with existing settings.
  2. Alter the rate on the monitors setting and show inflated values.
  3. Reset the monitor. Select 'Service>Reset. WARNING!   This  wipes all recorded data and starts again from the date you wiped the data.
I'm going for option 3. Because I've recorded the previous monthly data on my PC I'm able to access the data and its financial details entirely separately from the Sunny Beam device. I want to be able to show what I've generated pre April 1st and the revenue accrued and continue to record on the monitor using the new tariff rate.

I would be very interested if anyone is using an alternative bluetooth device to record their systems output, which allows greater flexibility.







Icarus 
T: @solaricarus

31 comments:

  1. Icarus, a bloody good point which I hadn't considered until you'd pointed it out.

    As I've only had our panels running since 15 Feb 2012 I think I'll go with the second option you've listed.

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    Replies
    1. drambo, that's fine for this year, but you'll hit the same problem as the rest of us next year.

      Delete
    2. Oh poo! So, damned if I do, damned if I don't.

      You'd think SMA could have been a bit smarter about this.

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    3. Ok I have a solution of sorts. If you want to work out the amount you are earning on a year by year basis, you can offset previous years earnings by going to menu-settings-pvplant-offset energy meter. Here you can deduct the previous year(s) generated (as long as you know what you had generated kwh by the end of the last rate). Then update device with the new FiT rate. The sunnybeam device will now tell you what you have generated this year under the revised rate (NOT including previous years).
      If you get fed up of not seeing the total generated, you can simply cancel the offset and in effect you will be left with option 2 as described above

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  2. Sunny Beam is seriously limited. I had to reset my device due to a firmware issue. I had backed up all the data to my pc and thought I would simply drop and drag it back onto the device once the firmware issue was resolved. Nah! That didn't happen. The device is write protected and the lovely helpful people at SMA will not assist in the matter. So I reckon it will be a long wait for SMA to pull their finger out regarding revised FiT rates on their device.

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    Replies
    1. Many thanks for your input. SMA have demonstrated that we, the consumer know more about their products than they do.
      Total Wally's

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  3. I am just coming up to the end of my first year and the settings are still at the initial rates. All it means is that what ever the final figure showing on your Sunny Beam the final amount will be a bit more than what it is forcasting.
    I dont think I am going to mess about too much with the SB as British Gas now send a more up to date qtrly breakdown which shows what you earnt before the Fit increase and what was earnt since.
    When the system was installed on the 4/08/2011 the salesman forecast 3159KW and£1414.000 for the year.
    I got a request for a meter reading yesterday which read at 3223. As that is really 12 days short of a full year,thats good enough for me and I calculate my final cheque to be £498.31, making a total of money received to £1468.28 for just under the year

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    Replies
    1. Hi Dennis 4.
      Fantastic set of figures from your system, you must be delighted?
      British Gas must be considerably more organised than Npower, I'm always surprised that they get it right calculating the existing rate, never mind previous rates.
      Have you worked out the return on your initial investment? You may have seen that I managed 12.5%, it seems like you may have done better.
      Good luck and keep us informed of your progress.

      Delete
    2. the cost was £13.000 so thats about 8.9 years but I could work it out better on the 3rd of August

      Delete
  4. Final reading up to the 3rd of August which is exactly 1 year is 3341KW.
    Based on the fact that we have had a below average summer im well satisfied.
    A rough calculation of revenue is £1554 thats from the Sunny Beam info up to today.
    Because they took the meter reading 12 days early and its always a bit behind the SB,Ihave actually received In the first four quarters £1474, on an outlay of £13.000, which works out at 8.2 years to get my dosh back.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Fantastic figures. You must be delighted to get an approximate 12% return on your generated output alone. When you factor in the electricity savings, you must be nearer 13.5%.

      Well done. Your investment strategy is better than George Osborne's......

      Delete
  5. It would be interesting to hear about other people's experience of their first year of installation. Has it been a success for you? What, with hindsight would you have done differently.
    Don't be shy. Tell us about your system.

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    Replies
    1. I am having the same debate about the sunny beam. not sure yet what I will do

      For info my first year reading was 4011Kw for which Eon paid me £184 Yes I am lucky!, we are in Lincs., face due south and have no obstructions. There are serious cases of "panel envy" in the village!

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  6. Just when you think everything is rosy you hit a problem.
    My batteries on the Sunny Beam have stopped working.
    I have replaced them with the same ones but I am having problems picking up the connection to the inverter.
    When I put the new batteries in I had to set the Language, The Time Zone, and the Time and date.
    Having done all that the Sunny Beam is not showing any E-Today and the E- Total has stayed
    the same since the batteries were changed.
    The good news is that the meter is still picking up power from the inverter and is now showing about 20 kw more since the Sunny Beam packed in.
    I have gone through all the Menu and have actually had it to the point of detecting connection but it is not show right on the display.
    I am obviously doing something wrong but the handbook is about as good as a chocolate fireguard.
    I have rung the local British gas engineer and he is coming on Monday, but its Bugging me that a simple thing like new batteries can cause such havoc.
    Anybody got any tips on what im doing wrong?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. got exactly the same problem when batteries fell out when monitor knocked (28/12/13) - any solutions? Thanks...

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    2. Data should be retained within the monitor's memory whilst batteries are being changed or if they're temporarily dislodged. Were yours disconnected for a long period? I would contact SMA directly for a replacement device if you have any doubts. They are a large company, with a reputation to maintain. What's too lose? They can only say no.
      Good luck.

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    3. Thank you so much...

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  7. not sure den00 4.try pulling the batterys out again ?!

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  8. Not sure denoo? must admit tho sunny beam handbook tells you nothing !

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  9. Please can somebody tell me what number i enter to change from 43.3p to 45.4p? in Settings>Display Options>Coefficients of Balance".
    thanks
    The system was only fitted in April but is on 43.3p

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Ben. You've put the correct path to alter the FiT rate. Settings>Display Options>Coefficients of Balance" the existing rate if it's 43.3p will be displayed as 0.4330. Select the option "Revenue/kWh and rotate the knob to alter the figures to 0.4540. Save the figures and return to main screen. The only problem as I've mentioned elsewhere is that ALL of your previous output will now be multiplied by the new figure (45.5p).
      Good luck. Tell us how you get on.

      Delete
  10. Hi I had solar panels fitted 1 june 2012 and sent my 1st meter reading to npower on the 24th sept the sunny beam revenue section said I had a total revenue of £630 I took that as the money I would receive and when the money was payed into my account for £279 I was not a happy guy but before I get onto some body and blast them is the reading wrong or the sunny beam wrong confused can somebody enlighten me please Brian

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Brian.
      I'm sure we can sort this out, but I need some additional details.
      1: When you supplied details of your output to the company, what was the total figure generated?
      2: What was the FiT rate you are signed up to on your contract with NPower?
      3: Did you supply the meter reading from the meter or your Sunny Beam monitor? They're not always the same, mine reads slightly below the actual meter reading.
      Either post the details here, or email me the details direct. You'll get my contact details on the website Home page top Right.



      Delete
  11. Hi
    1: 1355.19 This was taken from the sunny beam 24th Sept 2012 which was plug into my laptop and minus 119.45 as this was the figure from there start date which was 13th june because the paperwork wasn't right so they wouldn't except the 0.5 that the solar company put in from the 1st June 2012 I couldn't put the figure in from the gen meter as I had no idea what it was on that date so that's why plugged in the S beam and it said the E-Total Kv 119.45 ending the 12th June
    2: My FiT rate is 21p and export is 3.2p

    As of today my pv gen meter says 1561.2
    My total revenue on S beam says £717.77
    My S Beam E-total Kv says 1594.697 ending yesterday 23rd Oct

    Hope you can understand this

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Brian.

      The first point I would make is that you should be providing meter readings for npower from the actual meter rather than the Sunny Beam monitor. The monitor isn't accurate enough to provide genuine readings.

      You earn 21p for each kWh generated. You don't earn 3.2p for each kWh exported. The energy companies assume you use 50%, and export 50%. Therefore they pay 1.6p per kWh

      It sound as if your Sunny Beam monitor has incorrect values entered for your FiT rates. It should be set for 22.6p

      If you have generated 1355.19 kWh then you should have earned:

      1355.19 minus 119.45 = 1235.55kWh

      1235.55 X 22.6p ( 21p + 1.6p) = £279.23

      Check your Sunny Beam monitor. If you need some instructions about resetting the correct value to 0.226 look at this link http://www.solarpowerdiary.co.uk/2012/03/sunny-beam-monitor-and-new-fit-rates.html

      Good luck. Let me know if you need any further information

      Delete
  12. Hi, I love your blog. I bought one. I just say, now we can remotely monitor the performance of our PV system - without wires. The new Sunny Beam displays real-time power output for up to 4 individual inverters numerically and graphically. It also stores a month's worth of production data for review at any time. Its design incorporates a solar cell to enhance battery performance and the large LCD screen displays key data at a glance. Easy to setup and use, the Sunny Beam takes the next step in monitoring convince. thanks~ Mellisa :)

    ------------------

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  13. I apologise for resurrecting an old thread but like Anonymous 12 May 2012 08:00, I too had to reset my device. I had backed up all the data to my pc and thought I would simply drop and drag it back onto the Sunny Beam once the problem was resolved. There was actually a comms problem with the inverter (which had to be returned to SMA) so I was unable to download the data from the Inverter. After the replacement inverter was fitted I tried to upload the saved Sunny Beam data from my PC back to the Sunny Beam only to find that it is write protected.
    I have contacted SMA who have been unable to help.
    I just wonder if any computer whizz has found a way of removing the write protection.
    It can be done on USB drives. I wonder why it cannot be done on the SB which is a USB device.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I would be VERY surprised if anyone was able to alter the SMA code on their monitor. From bitter experience in dealing with then they've demonstrated a complete lack of interest in user interests.
      You mention you've saved the data to a PC? I'm afraid that's as good as it's going to be for you this year. At least you have all the relevant data.
      If anyone has other ideas I will gladly publish them.
      Good luck.

      Delete
  14. Hello

    i had my panels installed in Dec 2012. Everything running smoothly until ii noticed that the total cumulative reading on my SunnyBeam is different to that of the solar meter. The SunnyBeam is reading 6117.8kwh and the solar meter is reading 6070.3kwh.

    I always take the reading from the solar meter but wondered if anyone knew why the Sunny Beam had a different reading as i thought it recalled the information direct from the inverter?

    thanks

    Jack

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Jack.
      Unfortunately, the Sunny Beam monitor is just a toy which allows householders to view their generated kWh's. It was never intended to be as accurate as the actual FiT meter. You are not alone in noticing the probable 1% diffence. I wrote a pice in June 2013 detailing my difference. http://www.solarpowerdiary.co.uk/2013/06/two-year-anniversary-of-solar-power.html

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  15. at least you get a rate back... in South Africa we get sweet f-all! plus we are raped by import charges (up to 40%), with no tax breaks on installing renewable energy.

    if using the sunny beam, what else would you suggest I use the rate/FIT calculator for? I was wondering if I should use the current electricity rate we pay, and use that as a method to calculate how much I've saved paying to the government? would that work

    ReplyDelete