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Thursday, 18 April 2019 Dereel Images for 18 April 2019
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What flower?
Topic: gardening Link here

One of the more rewarding (and long-suffering) flowers in my garden is this one:


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I've forgotten who gave it to me, but it must have been well over 10 years ago. I had been told that it was a Peruvian lily, but that seems to be Alstroemeria. And Laurel Gordon told us that it was a Mirabilis jalapa. But I had already noticed discrepancies: Mirabilis cross-breeds, while our yellow plant remains yellow and the red one remains red. And they call it the “four o'clock flower” because it doesn't flower until 16:00. These photos were taken at 7:30. And finally Mirabilis is a bush, and these are tubers. So what are they?


Solar electricity installation, day 2
Topic: Stones Road house, general Link here

The electricians—today 5 of them—arrived at 7:30 again, and got going quickly in the garage:


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Fyodor was there again supervising the installation of the equipment. He later took some photos with his phone, and told me that this was of great interest because it was one of the first installations of this size and in this area.

It's surprising how much wiring is needed for these systems. They told me that they had to install a number of oscillators, but I later discovered that they meant isolators—it's clear where I'm coming from (and, interestingly, where my spelling checker comes from: it flags “isolator” as a spelling error). But what a number of isolators! One at the end of each row of panels (the orange ones) and a whole lot more in the garage:


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The one on the right of the inverter (second photo) is double-throw Turning it off isolates the inverter and feeds grid power to the house. The ones on the top left are for the three individual PV arrays, and the one underneath is for the batteries. The pipe on the right is part of the vacuum cleaner system, nothing to do with the wiring.

Round 14:00 they rewired the main switchboard to go from main switch (left) to the “Inverter in” switch (second from right), then back from the inverter to the remainder of the switchboard (far right). Hopefully for the last time we needed the UPS to bridge the 10 minutes that that took.


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And there are warnings everywhere. Here the switchboard three years ago and today:


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They were done round 15:00, and Fyodor showed me how to access the configuration from a web browser. Lots of nice knobs to turn. As discussed, he had set the thing to stop using battery when it dropped to 20%, as long as the grid was connected; otherwise it would continue using it down to 5%, the minimum practicable (and not 0%, as Tomas had claimed). He had also set it to charge from the grid at up to 500 W when it reached 20%. It's not clear that that's a good idea, but hey, I can change it if I don't like it.

Spent some time setting up an account with Ingecon, with some rather interesting details. Clearly you need to enter a device ID and password, and clearly you need to select “Verify connection”. But this photo is after successful verification!

 
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That's what the little green tick means. How modern!

And then it discovers your location—after a lot of mistaken guesswork:

 
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By nightfall the battery was about 60% charged. Spent some time watching the display from the inverter, which looks like it could do with improvement:


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This was done the following morning. I think that it purports to show solar panel input on the left (2335 W), consumption in the house (7306 W), power from the grid (4971 W) and power charging the battery (2838 W). How does this add up? And why is the battery being charged from the grid? Fyodor put a 500 W cap on that, and as I discovered during the evening, after dropping to 20%, it charged back up to 30% from the grid. Does that make sense? I need to think about it.

In addition, the somewhat meaningless usage statistics are stated for Saturday and Sunday, without any date. Does the inverter not know the time? It has a configuration entry for NTP, which I set. It should know that the days are Thursday and Friday. And sure enough, it shows the time correctly, in emetic US American date format: 04/18/2019. The only other language that the device does is Spanish, but maybe that's preferable to that horrible date format.


Rod for hanging pots
Topic: gardening Link here

Three months ago CJ Ellis and I tried to mount a rod between the wall and pillar in the house entrance. We failed: the bricks were too hard. So today Yvonne asked the apprentice sparky if he could finish the holes. Yes, in record time, with a bit of advice from his foreman. It was so fast that I didn't have time to get a photo of him.

Was that good luck or good equipment? I had started the first hole in January, and he finished it in a second or two, breaking through to a hole in the brick. Might I also have done that? And was the second one softer, maybe? I had had one like that on the other side. Still, it's done.


Failed inverter
Topic: photography, technology, opinion Link here

We talked a lot about inverters on IRC, of course. And Daniel O'Connor came up with a photo of a failed inverter, taken with his iPhone 6S:


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Where's the failed component? With that gradation it's hard to say. Got Daniel to tell me where it was and put it through DxO PhotoLab:


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Yes, nicely bent out of shape. It seems that both transistors had been destroyed, and I'd guess that more are as well. But doesn't it make things easier to have well-graded photos?


Apple: all your photos is belong to us
Topic: technology, general, opinion Link here

Getting hold of Daniel O'Connor's photos wasn't as easy as it sounds. In principle if you have an image in a web browser, you should be able to save it. But Daniel's photo is https://www.icloud.com/photos/#04YWjMDeSreIQ-Fi7InYEGESw. Apple. No, you can't just save it, you have to ask nicely by signing in with your Apple ID. OK, I can do that, since I couldn't find a way to delete it.

Not so fast. First we'll send you an SMS to * ******70. Ah, that must be my normal phone that is always on auto-answer. Forget it.

Apple, why do you always appear to me like a shyster after a quick buck? It reminds me of an article I saw earlier: Apple Unveils Plans To Revitalise Notre Dame Precinct With New Flagship Store


X screen blanking again
Topic: technology, opinion Link here

Once again, eureka can't keep quiet. Blank the screen and it's back on again within seconds. What's causing that? I had had various programs under suspicion, but this evening I couldn't be bothered. Switch to X server 1, which doesn't have anything unusual running. But that didn't stop it.

So what is causing this? I can't see any way that a program connected to one server can want to influence another server; there are few enough computers that run more than one X server. More head-scratching.


Friday, 19 April 2019 Dereel Images for 19 April 2019
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Understanding the solar electricity installation
Topic: Stones Road house, technology, opinion Link here

So now I have a correctly functioning solar electricity system, and it seems to be doing its job quite well. All I need to do is tweak it a bit.

One thing's clear: the web display provided by the inverter is Just Plain Broken.


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After some comparison, it seems that the “PV Generation” and “Grid Consumption” figures add up to the number in the middle with the house symbol. And the “battery charge” figure below is not directly related; to get the house consumption you need to subtract that number (7306 - 2838 = 4468 W). The dates are ridiculously wrong. It's even counting in the wrong direction: yesterday was “Saturday”, but now it's “Sunday”, and today is “Saturday”:

 
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And there are no useful statistics. How much PV power did I generate today? How much did I feed into the grid? How much did I take out of the grid? Nothing there, just meaningless comparisons to some arbitrary concepts.

“Daily consumption of 1 home”. What kind of home? “0.00 barrels of oil”, saved by not drawing current from a coal-fired power plant. “4.07 kg of CO2 [sic]”. How was that calculated?

Instead I got a report from Spain with marginally more information:


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Once again dates in wrong-way-round format, at least part of the time, and pretty useless graphics. But there's a little more information there:


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“Consumption 15.02” (we're too leet to specify units; everybody knows that we mean kWh). What does that mean? The other second explains: “From PV: 15.02”. So that's what we used directly? And then there's “Battery Charge” and “Grid Feed-in”. At first I thought that they matched “From storage” and “From public grid”, but no, I think the first are what we transferred from PV to these destinations, and the second is where the power came from that we used. But that's all still pretty much bare-bones.

But wait, there's more! Go to your web site in Spain (this is clearly too important to keep on your site) and see:


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Potentially that's more useful. It's interesting to see the tooth-like pattern during the night where the battery alternately charges and discharges. And round 7:00 the big spike is turning on the air conditioner to warm the place up. The next one is presumably cooking breakfast. I need to analyse this stuff (and find a way to fix the broken text rendering), but it could give insights.

But is it correct? The day before shows a peak usage of somewhere between their chosen grid values of 3.7 and 4.6 kW:


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Round 19:00 I noted a consumption of over 7 kW. Who is lying? It certainly could be the inverter, which shows a lot of to-and-froing between exporting to the grid and importing from the grid in a time frame of 5 seconds or so. Is it really doing that, or just reporting it incorrectly? The display on the inverter itself shows the same thing: here I'm running off the PV array and charging the battery (at 7.7 A), but it claims to be feeding power to the grid as well (admittedly only 11 W):


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After throwing the main switch it showed a warning light and no further connection to the grid:


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About the only thing that's clear is that I didn't get the promised alarm that the system was off the grid.

Still, what I'm seeing here is a total power generation round 31 kWh for today. Given that we're in the winter semester, and that I had expected the equivalent of about 3.5 hours “sunshine” on average for the year (37.8 kWh) that's not too bad. But of course today was sunny; we'll need to factor in the cloudy days.

Still, I want to tweak the system. Where's the configuration? It seems to be hidden where I can't get at it. I have a password for the inverter, but it doesn't seem to apply to the web interface. The documentation talks of a “password” (« contraseña ») 0332, which I would call a PIN. I need to tread carefully here; there's every possibility of locking myself out, and I don't want to do that.


This page contains (roughly) yesterday's and today's entries. I have a horror of reverse chronological documents, so all my diary entries are chronological. This page normally contains the last two days, but if I fall behind it may contain more. You can find older entries in the archive. Note that I often update a diary entry a day or two after I write it.     Do you have a comment about something I have written? This is a diary, not a “blog”, and there is deliberately no provision for directly adding comments. But I welcome feedback and try to reply to all messages I receive. See the diary overview for more details. If you do send me a message relating to something I have written, please indicate whether you'd prefer me not to mention your name. Otherwise I'll assume that it's OK to do so.


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