Wireless solar communications solutions with LoRa radio

By Monique Merino, RFI Product Manager (IoT)

As solar installations continue to increase and we move more towards smart grid solutions which require more connectivity, having a reliable connection for your solar system is essential. Modern solar inverters require connectivity to communicate data back to an internet connected portal.  RFI has the innovative solution to for this (and many other) solar applications.

If you have ever had a solar system installed, or are an installer yourself, you will have come across the situation of having to run a hard-line RS485 cable from your inverter to your meter unit through impractical or almost impossible terrain when connecting your inverter to a meter. While this is the recommended solution from many inverter manufacturers it is often impractical, expensive or impossible to lay a hardwired cable for RS485. This calls for a more innovative approach to achieve communications between a meter and inverter.

Communications in solar installations is often seen as a mysterious and complex part of the install, but it doesn’t need to be. Using a pair of Maxon Datamax LoRa terminals a wireless RS485 link can be established within minutes. As small outstation devices, the terminals are fitted with RS485 (and RS232) serial connectivity, this allows for direct connectivity to the inverter comms interface through the RS485 serial connector commonly found on solar inverters. The terminals are then programmed to talk to each other over LoRa radio through paired device IDs, matching frequency and data rate. With supply from RFI terminals can be supplied pre-programmed with settings appropriate for your device to further simplify setup.

So, what are the advantages of using the Maxon Datamax LoRa terminal solution for inverter communications? LoRa is a LPWAN communications protocol, this means that it is low power consumption solution that can communicate over a long range. This makes it better suited to these sorts of applications when compared to other protocols that have been tested for this use case, such as WiFi, which are designed for high-power short-range solutions. LoRa’s embedded end to end encryption and redundancy for packet finality also make it a desirable and versatile solution. The ease of installation of the product and the low power, low cost of the LoRa terminals also makes them an economical solution when compared to the cost of running long cable runs.

Since a large range of solar inverters and meters can be connected by RS485 or RS232 this makes this solution compatible with a wide range of devices and brands. This illustrates the flexibility of the Maxon Datamax LoRa terminal solution for wireless solar communications.

For any additional information, please contact the sales team at enquiry@rfi.com.au.

Monique Merino, Product Manager (IoT)