Big Feature Request Thread

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Echo5
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Big Feature Request Thread

Post by Echo5 »

Since the new management at Outback seem like they might be receptive to suggestions, I thought now might be a good time to start a thread for new features. Here's mine...

1) Make all of the Outback equipment support LiFePO batteries natively. This should be an option right at the start: (a) I have Lead Acid batteries or (b) I have LiFePO batteries. Once you set that all of the options change appropriately - for example if you have Lithium batteries you do not have to worry about working round the float charge settings. This firmware update should be updateable in existing equipment (if possible).

2) Have somebody from Outback dedicated to offering support on the forum so Raysun doesn't have to do it so much (thank you Raysun).

3) Open up and publish the Modbus block information so third party developers can write monitoring software for Outback without having to trial and error hack it.

4) This is a bit "pie in the sky" but how about open sourcing the code that controls the Mate 3s, Inverters and Charge Controllers. This way third party developers can write their own firmware. Outback will still sell the hardware and default firmware but there could be an ecosystem of software out there for people to use.
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by provo »

I'd be content with Optics not dropping out more than 6 hours at a time, maybe 2 or 3 times in a year.

My needs are few :-) ...
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by sparky »

2017 Schneider did the first closed loop power system. Attached is what it looks like today with 5 different manufactures.
a soh 1.JPG
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by Echo5 »

Here's another one

5) Place a value on the Mate3s and on the Web page interface that basically says "This many Watts are going unused" and make it possible to trigger the AUX ports based off of this value. The reason for this is that, for people who do not feed the grid, once the batteries are full the system just stops accepting power in order to prevent overcharging (as it should). However if the "power going unused" is above a certain level it would be nice to turn on a heater or air conditioner via the AUX port.

Basically this means having the ability to dump surplus power to a diversion or opportunity load based off of a reasonably accurate estimate of the surplus power available.
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by raysun »

Echo5 wrote: Thu May 23, 2024 12:38 am Here's another one

5) Place a value on the Mate3s and on the Web page interface that basically says "This many Watts are going unused" and make it possible to trigger the AUX ports based off of this value. The reason for this is that, for people who do not feed the grid, once the batteries are full the system just stops accepting power in order to prevent overcharging (as it should). However if the "power going unused" is above a certain level it would be nice to turn on a heater or air conditioner via the AUX port.

Basically this means having the ability to dump surplus power to a diversion or opportunity load based off of a reasonably accurate estimate of the surplus power available.
In my place, over a 15 minute period, the unused potential could change 100 times, and range in that time from 0 to 7000 watts. It would be pretty hard to interpret the numbers and make a diversion decision.
However, the FlexMax charge controllers have AUX functions that will meet the diversion requirement automatically.
Screenshot_20240523_135616_Drive.jpg
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by Marshall Neipert »

I have sent this thread to our developers and tech team for recommendations.
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by davidco »

Allow configuration of the MATE3s to be powered by via PoE, instead of MODBUS, so we can remotely cold boot the MATE3s by toggling PoE on (or restarting) our PoE switches.

Ensure that Autoboot will work safely with AGS, so it doesn't autoboot during a Generator run, and forget to turn off the generator.

How about just fix the MATE3s firmware so it doesn't drop 'OFFLINE' in the first place. (this has been a known problem for years!)

This system is on a remote off-grid Island over an hour boat ride each way in good weather. Requiring a cold boot of the MATE3s by physically unplugging the MODBUS cable is unacceptable.
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by Echo5 »

raysun wrote: Thu May 23, 2024 4:58 pm In my place, over a 15 minute period, the unused potential could change 100 times, and range in that time from 0 to 7000 watts. It would be pretty hard to interpret the numbers and make a diversion decision.
However, the FlexMax charge controllers have AUX functions that will meet the diversion requirement automatically.
This highlights my main concern with the use of the CC AUX as a diversion load. As far as I am aware it is a binary ON/OFF function based off of battery voltage with no indication of how much power is available.

So repeated on/offs are a problem for sure, but if there is knowledge of the surplus power are there workarounds? - let's explore ideas. Maybe the batteries in the system could act as a buffer and a decision based on an average or some algorithm like "if above A surplus for B minutes turn on, if below X surplus for Y minutes turn off" could work. That should help minimize some of the thrashing - the AUX port just doesn't turn on unless there truely is a worthwhile surplus.

I am in the UK so heat is the diversion load of primary interest to me. It is no problem for a solid state relay to turn a simple bar heater on and off multiple times in a 15 minute period. Theoretically at least, a heater circuit like that can chatter all it wants but it might be hard on the inverter though. Your thoughts?

Assuming repeated on/off activations are likely a problem for the inverter - but rapidly adjusting an existing output power level should be its bread and butter. To take advantage of that I have a project (in its initial design stages) where the heater is a smart opportunity load. It does not use the AUX port but instead just plugs into a standard wall socket. The smart heater would interact with the Mate3s web interface to get the data to find out if it should turn on and then auto adjust its power consumption appropriately. Having a surplus power data item on the Mate3s web display would make it much easier to set the consumption level. At the moment, once the Mate3s web data indicates there is probably surplus power available, I am going to have to slowly increment the power usage on the heater and carefully watch the battery voltage. If it does not drop much, the heater is not pulling from the battery, the inverter is picking up the slack directly from the charge controllers and the power load can go higher, if the battery voltage drops, the batteries are starting to help the supply and the load must go lower or turn off. Probably some sort of PID control will be needed. I plan to implement this as a 48V DC version as well in order to avoid the heater interacting with the inverter at all.

Just saying that if the option is out there it might prove useful to some. I rather suspect the "Surplus Power Level" data item would just be a software thing and so not too expensive to implement.
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by raysun »

So repeated on/offs are a problem for sure, but if there is knowledge of the surplus power are there workarounds? - let's explore ideas. Maybe the batteries in the system could act as a buffer and a decision based on an average or some algorithm like "if above A surplus for B minutes turn on, if below X surplus for Y minutes turn off" could work. That should help minimize some of the thrashing - the AUX port just doesn't turn on unless there truely is a worthwhile surplus.
The Float function has the benefit of a simple, unambiguous metric for making surplus power available.

Another built-in Aux function - Diversion - may go a step further in what's sought. Reading the FlexMax manual pages on Diversion is illuminating as to the approaches, and their limitations, that might be pursued.

In either event, Mother Nature will have the last word.

Yesterday, my system went into Float, after charge parameters met, around 11:30AM, and stayed in Float until 6:18PM.
Screenshot_20240524_061127_Chrome.jpg
This is a measure of the available solar radiation at my pv array, including the same time interval.
Screenshot_20240524_060613_Ambient Weather.jpg
The normal passage of clouds between 11:30 and 6:30 are reflected in the variation in isolation. This measure, combined with pv panel temperature, may correlate with potential power availability, however how does one make reasonable decisions about what might be available in any given time interval from what's derived from prior time intervals?
It reminds me of those glowing investment company adverts promising a good life in the future if you give them your money today - pointing to the performance of their market funds, while flashing up fine print stating "Past performance is not an indicator of future returns."
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by JRKsolar »

My vote is for a new Mate(4?) that's as solid and reliable as the rest of their products. The Mate has always felt like an afterthought.
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by JRHill »

Let's just grit our teeth and see what happens. Making a list of this 'n that only stirs the pot. Seriously, don't you think there are all kinds of lists that OB engineers have, and would act upon, if only they could?

Maybe in this next corporate thing they will let creative minds loose. Personally I think OB has some real talent. Maybe they will use it in the near future.
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by Echo5 »

JRHill wrote: Fri May 24, 2024 4:29 pm Let's just grit our teeth and see what happens. Making a list of this 'n that only stirs the pot. Seriously, don't you think there are all kinds of lists that OB engineers have, and would act upon, if only they could?
Maybe in this next corporate thing they will let creative minds loose. Personally I think OB has some real talent. Maybe they will use it in the near future.
This is a pretty good suggestion. It could be rephrased as "Dear new Outback Management, please survey your staff and solicit honest opinions about what really needs to be done and then strongly consider doing it."
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by sodamo »

Marshall Neipert wrote: Thu May 23, 2024 9:45 pm I have sent this thread to our developers and tech team for recommendations.
Thank you 🤙

Many of us have been OB users for a bit and for the most part we love them. I’m sure that between user suggestions and staff input there can be some really great changes in the (near) future. Hopefully, many will be compatible (Mate4?) with our existing systems. Personally, I would be very very reluctant to do a major system upgrade, but doing a component or board level upgrade could be very enticing.

And do give your Tech support people an atta boy.
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by Electrictrauma »

I chose outback for local sourcing and reputation only to find lack of documentation and support for the skybox. Don’t put anything into production you can’t stand behind and improve.
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by Echo5 »

New product/feature idea.

This was brought up in a separate thread ( viewtopic.php?t=18672 ) but I thought I would also list it here for extra visibility.

I suggest adding Overpanelling Safe Trip functionality to the FWPV Combiner box and also create a separate plug-in product that can be inserted between an existing combiner and the PV string cables. The linked thread explains the idea in more detail but the general idea is to allow people in low insolation areas to safely add more panels than the charge controllers can accept and then have them trip out of circuit when the solar power climbs past an unsafe level and trip back in again when it drops.

The consensus seems to be that this feature/product is not available anywhere. Adding it would give the Outback combiner capabilities nobody else has and also provide a super useful feature for those in lower light areas. For example, in winter I could easily have twice the number of panels on each charge controller and still not exceed the safe limit except for the very rare periods where they get direct sunlight. Panels are relatively cheap these days - I would love to have a safe method of adding more.
A box with connections in and out that sits in between the wiring of the strings just before they enter the combiner box - simple to retrofit. The current from each string is measured as it flows through the box. A microcontroller sums all the currents and takes strings offline in a designated order as the total current climbs too high. This could be done by something simple like tripping a relay. As the current drops, the string is brought back in. Obviously a hysteresis mechanism would be introduced to avoid chattering the relays on and off.
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by Drake »

Is Outback tech support coming back under the new management? I would recommend reviving it and hiring back the people who really know the equipment, especially Lones Tuss.

Will Outback honor the warranties of equipment now in the field? I recommend that it does, and improves the services rendered by the sellers. Since many people depend on their solar equipment for their electricity, it is crucial that replacements be delivered in a timely manner.

Thank you,

Drake Chamberlin
Athens Electric LLC
Ohio Electrical Contractor’s License 44810
NABCEP Certified PV Installation Professional
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by raysun »

Drake wrote: Mon May 27, 2024 7:13 am Is Outback tech support coming back under the new management? I would recommend reviving it and hiring back the people who really know the equipment, especially Lones Tuss.

Will Outback honor the warranties of equipment now in the field? I recommend that it does, and improves the services rendered by the sellers. Since many people depend on their solar equipment for their electricity, it is crucial that replacements be delivered in a timely manner.

Thank you,

Drake Chamberlin
Athens Electric LLC
Ohio Electrical Contractor’s License 44810
NABCEP Certified PV Installation Professional
Important questions.
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by sodamo »

Important questions needing positive answers, else I see mass migration.
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Adding 12 Hyundai 365 (4380) 18460w total
Radians GG8048A/GS4048A w GSLCs
4 FM 80 charge controllers
Hub 10.3
FNDC w/3 shunts
Mate 3s
OpticsRE - MMKL - Ninole Hi
15 SimpliPhi 3.8 (57kw) (1125 AH)
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Hub
FNDC. - shared shunt feeds from Radian FNDC
Mate 3s
EG4 Chargeverter
10Kw MEP 803a Military gen

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Starlink w Eero Pro 6e network
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by sodamo »

Echo5 wrote: Mon May 27, 2024 1:01 am New product/feature idea.

This was brought up in a separate thread ( viewtopic.php?t=18672 ) but I thought I would also list it here for extra visibility.

I suggest adding Overpanelling Safe Trip functionality to the FWPV Combiner box and also create a separate plug-in product that can be inserted between an existing combiner and the PV string cables. The linked thread explains the idea in more detail but the general idea is to allow people in low insolation areas to safely add more panels than the charge controllers can accept and then have them trip out of circuit when the solar power climbs past an unsafe level and trip back in again when it drops.

The consensus seems to be that this feature/product is not available anywhere. Adding it would give the Outback combiner capabilities nobody else has and also provide a super useful feature for those in lower light areas. For example, in winter I could easily have twice the number of panels on each charge controller and still not exceed the safe limit except for the very rare periods where they get direct sunlight. Panels are relatively cheap these days - I would love to have a safe method of adding more.
A box with connections in and out that sits in between the wiring of the strings just before they enter the combiner box - simple to retrofit. The current from each string is measured as it flows through the box. A microcontroller sums all the currents and takes strings offline in a designated order as the total current climbs too high. This could be done by something simple like tripping a relay. As the current drops, the string is brought back in. Obviously a hysteresis mechanism would be introduced to avoid chattering the relays on and off.

I'd like to see something like that. Pretty much a know nothing about electronics but maybe something that just limits the output similar to a buck converter does with volts?

Many might think we in Hawaii enjoy great performance, but… while there are times I have seen almost 50kwh production I have had cloudy, rainy days where I’m lucky to make 5kwh. My daily use is about 30kwh.
David
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by raysun »

sodamo wrote: Mon May 27, 2024 12:07 pm
Echo5 wrote: Mon May 27, 2024 1:01 am New product/feature idea.

This was brought up in a separate thread ( viewtopic.php?t=18672 ) but I thought I would also list it here for extra visibility.

I suggest adding Overpanelling Safe Trip functionality to the FWPV Combiner box and also create a separate plug-in product that can be inserted between an existing combiner and the PV string cables. The linked thread explains the idea in more detail but the general idea is to allow people in low insolation areas to safely add more panels than the charge controllers can accept and then have them trip out of circuit when the solar power climbs past an unsafe level and trip back in again when it drops.

The consensus seems to be that this feature/product is not available anywhere. Adding it would give the Outback combiner capabilities nobody else has and also provide a super useful feature for those in lower light areas. For example, in winter I could easily have twice the number of panels on each charge controller and still not exceed the safe limit except for the very rare periods where they get direct sunlight. Panels are relatively cheap these days - I would love to have a safe method of adding more.
A box with connections in and out that sits in between the wiring of the strings just before they enter the combiner box - simple to retrofit. The current from each string is measured as it flows through the box. A microcontroller sums all the currents and takes strings offline in a designated order as the total current climbs too high. This could be done by something simple like tripping a relay. As the current drops, the string is brought back in. Obviously a hysteresis mechanism would be introduced to avoid chattering the relays on and off.

I'd like to see something like that. Pretty much a know nothing about electronics but maybe something that just limits the output similar to a buck converter does with volts?

Many might think we in Hawaii enjoy great performance, but… while there are times I have seen almost 50kwh production I have had cloudy, rainy days where I’m lucky to make 5kwh. My daily use is about 30kwh.
I did some prototyping for parts of the above. Dynamic control of the array and MPPT end up fighting each other. The rapidly changing power curves (Hawaii weather patterns) made for another challenge.
In the end it was cheaper, simpler, and more effective, to put in another charge controller with an array sized for it.
My 3.5kW arrays, peaking out over 4.5kW in certain conditions, don't cause any heartburn when reaching their extremes of output and no added complexity of control circuitry required.
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by mahendra »

raysun wrote: Mon May 27, 2024 11:30 am
Drake wrote: Mon May 27, 2024 7:13 am Is Outback tech support coming back under the new management? I would recommend reviving it and hiring back the people who really know the equipment, especially Lones Tuss.

Will Outback honor the warranties of equipment now in the field? I recommend that it does, and improves the services rendered by the sellers. Since many people depend on their solar equipment for their electricity, it is crucial that replacements be delivered in a timely manner.

Thank you,

Drake Chamberlin
Athens Electric LLC
Ohio Electrical Contractor’s License 44810
NABCEP Certified PV Installation Professional
Important questions.
I support this I have been dealing with a warranty claim for a while now and figured something wasn't right or has changed since I last dealt with Tech support.
They were great up to two years ago when I last dealt with them.
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by raysun »

The legacy of Outback support goes all the way back to calling in and talking to the equipment design engineers. Then two-tier: tech support and engineering. Now, it's Warranty Tech Support.
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Adding 12 Hyundai 365 (4380) 18460w total
Radians GG8048A/GS4048A w GSLCs
4 FM 80 charge controllers
Hub 10.3
FNDC w/3 shunts
Mate 3s
OpticsRE - MMKL - Ninole Hi
15 SimpliPhi 3.8 (57kw) (1125 AH)
14Kw Kohler 14RESA Propane

Charging Only
2FX3048T
Hub
FNDC. - shared shunt feeds from Radian FNDC
Mate 3s
EG4 Chargeverter
10Kw MEP 803a Military gen

Honda EU7000i
Starlink w Eero Pro 6e network
Davis VantagePro2 Wx Station
On line at: https://www.wunderground.com/dashboard/pws/KHININOL2
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by sodamo »

Looking forward to new CEO posting in detail here, giving us solid confidence in new regime and putting to rest all our fears.
David
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Outback IBR3 battery enclosure
REC Alpha 440W panels - 2 arrays: each of 4 strings of 2 in series
2 Midnite Solar MNPV6 combiners w/20A DC disconnects.
Honda EU7000is gas fuel generator
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by raysun »

sodamo wrote: Wed May 29, 2024 2:33 pm Looking forward to new CEO posting in detail here, giving us solid confidence in new regime and putting to rest all our fears.
Amen.
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My RE system: FLEXmax 80, VFXR 3024, MATE3s, HUB10, FLEXnet DC, 2x150Ah Sterling LiFePO4 24V batteries, 8x220w panels in 4 strings of 2.
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Re: Big Feature Request Thread

Post by Echo5 »

Suggest adding a "turn on anyways" at presettable intervals option to the FXR Inverter line when in SEARCH mode. Small low power loads do not activate the inverter in SEARCH mode and so if the load is only something small like a fridge the circuit will not turn on until something else is activated and draws power. Having an option to activate every so often would take care of loads like this and still enable people to use the power saving feature of SEARCH mode.

See this thread for more details: viewtopic.php?p=107331#p107331
Kimono: Free and Open Source Outback Monitoring software
http://www.OfItselfSo.com/Kimono
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