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Outback FX monitor

Discussion in 'Home Power and Microgeneration' started by Derek Broughton, Jan 31, 2005.

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  1. Does anybody have any experience monitoring an Outback inverter (without an
    Outback Mate)?

    I'm looking at this device with an RJ45 plug and thinking it must be sitting
    there just dieing to tell me what it's doing, so I'm wondering what I would
    need to use for a data logger.

    Basically, I want something that will store any data provided by the FX,
    probably on a USB memory stick, with minimal power requirements, that I can
    then upload to my PC on demand.
     
  2. Steve Spence

    Steve Spence Guest

  3. In the first place, you don't. The inverter works just fine without one. I
    think you need a Mate if you get into using two or more inverters to
    provide +/- 120VAC. However, if I had an interface that could log the
    output, I could probably program the control options too. Anyway, if the
    Mate actually provided the store-and-dump options I want, I'd buy one -
    it's probably cheaper than doing it myself, but afaict, it doesn't.
     
  4. But as far as I can see, it has no _storage_, so I have to keep a computer
    attached to it all the time. That's unreasonable in a system where I'm
    trying to limit every watt of unnecessary power. Especially considering
    that the FX could never go idle, because it would have at least the
    computer plugged in. I do have an old Palm PDA, that could conceivably be
    plugged into the Mate for logging.
    I never had to bother with any jumpers. Works fine. Defaults are not
    _quite_ what I would like.
     
  5. Steve Spence

    Steve Spence Guest

  6. I don't know how much it would matter, but my Outback is only used to charge
    batteries in extreme need. I'm off-grid, so my batteries are primarily
    charged by a (Trace) charge controller. If I don't get enough sun or wind,
    and the batteries get too low, the inverter cuts out - and at a higher
    voltage than it did with my previous inverter - and then I plug the
    generator in through the FX for an hour or two. I've never even tried to
    give it a full charge. The Outback FAQ site assures me I don't _have_ to
    have a Mate. The price of a Mate just seems way out of line compared to
    the FX, when you don't even have to have one. I think they sell the FX as
    a loss leader to get you to buy all the neat accessories. :)
     
  7. I just found that earlier today. They're planning a WebMate that will do
    this (_in conjunction_ with a Mate) and predicting a $500 price tag! By
    the time I get a Mate and a WebMate, I could practically buy another FX!
    They seem happy enough to hand out the protocol spec for the serial port on
    the Mate, so I've asked for that.
    I'm guessing they improved that. Or else they just provided clear written
    instructions and I don't remember following them :)

    Mine's tripped much lower than that - around 30V.
    Yeah, mine can go there, but I'm happy enough with the 22V that it's
    quitting at, now.
    I'm getting that impression :)

    Since I (eventually) want to get a second FX, so I can get 240V (and a
    backup in case the first one fails), I'll need the Mate, anyway, so I'm not
    against spending the money for one, but I'm definitely not forking out
    another $500 for the WebMate.
     
  8. I got all the specs for that with my inverter - they didn't actually give me
    the demo software.
    The problem is that you then have a 50W (or so) permanent load attached to
    your inverter. I'd have to buy two new panels just to run it :) (Not to
    mention that it requires the Evil OS).
     
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