Tuesday, 8 May 2012

FiT & Sunny Beam Monitors.

Many of you may have added a Sunny Beam monitor to your installation to enable you to observe in real-time the output of your system. I have a monitor and some of you may have read my comments on how to re-set the device when the new FiT rate was introduced on April 1st 2012. 

In words of one syllable "Don't". 

Because I transfer the data from the monitor each month to my PC, I was very confident that I could format and wipe the information on the monitor and re-enter the relevant information including the increased value of the FiT. It's a very simple job, I merely took note of the existing settings and once the format had been completed I asked the device to search for a  blue-tooth inverter within range which instantly found and registered my inverter. Within 10 minutes I had a device which had no data before April 1st.......Simples!

When I said NO data, I should have said no data apart from the kWh's in total generated by my system since its installation. The monitor takes this information wirelessly from the inverter. There is NO WAY to zero the inverter and as all annual calculations that the monitor makes (specific annual yield,revenue and CO2 avoided) are based on the information sent from the inverter this causes problems if you alter the FiT value.
Prior to April 1st, I had generated approximately 1900kWh's @ 43.3p equalling £822 revenue. After I'd reset the monitor to the new FiT rate of 45.4p I had the wonderful (but totally wrong) display telling me I'd earned £862, an increase of £40. Clutching at straws I contacted the help desk at SMA to ask if I'd carried out the exercise correctly and what could be done to zero inverter.
You have to be very desperate or very stupid to deal with SMA's experts.I had to chase then twice for a response, but eventually received the very helpful reply that

"As your inverter was installed on June 2011 the feed in tariff should be guaranteed for 25 years at the same rate. This will mean that you will not need to change the revenue setting on the Sunny Beam."

I once again explained that my problem related to their equipment rather than the government FiT and waited. Within days they replied...In answer to your questions:

Can I zero the inverter?

Q1 – Yes it is impossible

Have I reset the monitor in the correct way?

Q2 – No you have reset the monitor correctly. This is normal for the Sunny Beam to still carry the E-totals as this is stored on the inverter and not the Sunny Beam. When the reset Sunny Beam connects to the Inverter for the first time it will requery the data and it will be freshly downloaded.

After spending considerable time and effort I have lost all of the monthly information displayed by the monitor, and gained an insight into SMA service desk abilities. I would advise anyone considering formatting the data on the Sunny Beam monitor to leave well alone. You will just have to accept the flawed nature of the software. On the bright side it offers a wonderful opportunity for an alternative manufacturer to introduce a better product.

Twitter: (@solaricarus)

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