andyalford avatar image
andyalford asked

BlueSolar or SmartSolar with CCGX?

A while back, I bought a BlueSolar 100/50 with the old style VE.Direct Bluetooth dongle (ASS030536010.) All new and boxed.

I have now decided to upgrade my system with much more stuff...

- a new SmartSolar 100/50 to swap for the BlueSolar 100/50 + VE.Direct Bluetooth dongle

- a second SmartSolar 100/50

- Winston LiFePo4 700Ah battery bank

- MultiPlus 12/3000/120-50

- REC Active BMS though VE.CAN interface

- CCGX acting as the SOC% meter with DVCC from REC and interfaced to MultiPlus VE.Bus

- USB Bluetooth dongle for CCGX

My questions are:

1. I have read on this forum, that I can expect the REC ABMS to monitor the LFP battery bank, and transmit SOC% via VE.Can to MultiPlus and SmartSolar which will stop charging at my defined limits.

2. Should I buy 2x SmartSolar 100/50 and sell the BlueSolar on eBay? I think I need the VE.Direct to interface to CCGX, rather than connecting a Bluetooth dongle. And I very much want to connect to both controllers via Bluetooth with the Victon Connect app. (The VRM looks very nice, but I prefer seeing the info direct on a native App without all the WiFi browser stuff.)

3. In other words, am I right that the CCGX does not transmit over bluetooth the information it receives on VE.Direct from the SmartSolar / BlueSolar - as a native device for viewing and configuring on VictronConnect?

4. But the CCGX does receive full data and configuration from the MultiPlus's VE.Bus and shows this on Bluetooth? Or do I need to buy the Smart Bluetooth dongle to achieve that?

5. I don't plan to buy BMV-712, as the REC BMS sends SOC% data direct to CCGX using DVCC. Will this be visible on Bluetooth somehow from a Victron device? I think I am correct in thinking that the REC BMS is more likely to get an accurate count of SOC% than BMV712, as it is counting Amps / Coulombs and resetting SOC% according to cell voltage heuristic. (If that sentence makes sense!)

5. I don't think I need Ve.Bus USB MK3 adaptor (ASS030140000) as I can use the web browser interface to CCGX to make initial configuration / download & upload settings and firmware. Or should I buy one just to get things setup?

6. How do I get the CCGX on Bluetooth - is this internal, or should I buy a USB bluetooth dongle. I have seen models recommended in the documentation. Is this the best way to do it for a decent range i.e. 10m? I think I read in the Venus online manual that the range was very disappointing.

7. Am I going about this the wrong way? Is Bluetooth configuration / monitoring reliable enough (on a 14m sailing yacht) to be the fundamental connection monitoring method? I am currently viewing the CCGX as an auxilliary display - I don't plan to 'go downstairs' to touch the buttons very much, as I would rather sit in the cockpit to view the status of the system (on my waterproof Sony Tablet!) Am I dreaming the wrong dream?

Thanks for your suggestions. Andy

CCGX Color ControlBluetoothsmart solar set-up helpSmart Battery Sense
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4 Answers
David avatar image
David answered ·


just thought I would add a few comments on your thoughts and goals ....

Basically to confirm, the Venus GX system (Venus GX, CCGX and others) are totally separate to the Victron Connect system and IMO should be treated as there being no connection or info sharing/presentation between the two. As said, Venus GX/CCGX is not Bluetooth aware.

Configuration of the various devices you are looking would be via Victron Connect over Bluetooth - the Venus GX is more of a system monitoring/data collation system rather than a configuation tool.

Using VRM you can update firmware on the VE.Direct connected devices, but you cannot configure them. A bit strangely, you CANNOT update firmware on the VE.Bus connected devices (at least not the Muliplus), however you CAN reconfigure them using VE Configure (as you note in Point 8). You would need to connect to VRM with a PC rather than a Tablet in order to run VE Configure though (I don't think there is a VE Configure App?)

You DO need the Mk3 USB Dongle to update the Multiplus Firmware though. You cannot do this using the VE.Bus Smart Bluetooth Dongle (which seems odd to me but that is how it is, at least currently) and I had to swap the BT Dongle for the Mk3 recently to update an MP-II and then put the Smart Dongle back again afterwards. You would need the Mk3 USB dongle anyway for the Multiplus if you decide to use a Raspberry Pi to run the Venus GX system, so it will have multiple uses.

Of the two options - Victron Connect via Bluetooth and Venus GX via Internet/VRM, I tend to use VRM much more as it gives a more joined up view of the whole system and if your goal is to "....sit in the cockpit to view the status of the system" then I think the Venus Setup, connecting directly to the device via the IP Address and viewing the Remote Console to give you the full picture would give you much more than connecting to individual products.

On your point 7 about individual device data, the Victron Connect option will give you more detailed info compared to drilling down through the Remote Console, BUT if you use VRM, that will provide a massively more detailed level of data than Victron Connect ever will (depends on your level of geekness what you want, but I love being able to drill down to any time and date I like and sample the data minute by minute for extreme monitoring!)

Using the Pi as a cheaper 'toe in the water' with a standard RJ45 cable for the Multiplus and a pair of VE.Direct to USB Dongles for the MPPTs might be worth doing?

How does the Bluetooth work on your boat BTW? I find the range of the Victron Bluetooth units remarkably poor to be honest. I run them on my Campervan and find I typically have to be inside the vehicle to be able to connect. I am just wondering if you could have a range issue on your board potentially? something to bear in mind maybe and check.


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wkirby avatar image
wkirby answered ·

Hello Andy

I don't know a great deal about the configuration of the REC BMS, others who know more than I can chime in. I'll answer the questions that I can.

1. From what I know, you need to have DVCC enabled for everything to work correctly.

2. The SmartSolar devices will allow you access to the configuration parameters which are not available on the CCGX. You need to connect the MPPT's to the CCGX with VE.Direct cables. MPPT's don't connect to the CCGX over bluetooth.

3. The CCGX does not transmit any data over bluetooth. Connecting a bluetooth USB will be fruitless.

4. The CCGX does not display or transmit any data over Bluetooth. The CCGX gets the operational parameters from the VE.Bus device / MultiPlus, but no configuration options are available via the CCGX. You need to connect to the MultiPlus with a VE.Bus - USB MK3 dongle in order to perform configuration tasks.

5. I think the REC BMS will be quite adequate for the job. The SOC will be displayed on the CCGX.
BTW, a BMV does count coulombs it does not base SOC state on Voltage.

5. You cannot use the CCGX for configuration. You'll need the VE.Bus USB MK3 to configure the MultiPlus.

6. No Bluetooth connectivity is available to or from the CCGX. A Bluetooth USB device will not work either.

7. I think your dream of viewing the data on your tablet is not completely shattered. You could view the CCGX screen and operate its controls on your Sony tablet via a WiFi connection on a web page. There is also the"glass" view which might be more pleasing to you.

I hope my answers were helpful.

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andyalford avatar image
andyalford answered ·

@Wkirby – thanks for the quick reply. I wrote a lovely long reply and lost it in my browser, so let’s try again.

So to confirm my understanding, with some statements (I hope fact)...

  1. The CCGX does not communication on Bluetooth, but you can see all CCGX devices in Victron.Connect through the VRM console replication which uses your phone's WiFi connection
  2. SmartSolars must communicate both in Bluetooth to Victron.Connect, and through VE.Direct to CCGX to VRM.
  3. Hence a BlueSolar can only transmit to CCGX via VE.Direct OR to Victron.Connect via VE.Direct Bluetooth Dongle
  4. MultiPlus connects to CCGX via VE.Bus but CCGX provides no view of this device on Bluetooth
  5. Connect a VE.Bus Smart Dongle and you can see the MultiPlus on Victron.Connect through Bluetooth
  6. BUT you cannot configure the MultiPlus through Victron.Connect unless you turn off the CCGX as VE.Bus Smart Dongle will be slave not master if both are present in the same system. Darn-it !!
  7. I am assuming there is more detailed information from SmartSolar Bluetooth connection than the CCGX VRM displaay. It seems to me that the VRM graph display (very nice) but a summary view of all solar sources, bluetooth seems to offer excellent daily information for each SmartSolar.
  8. I saw a video saying you could download MultiPlus config file, edit it in VE.Connect for Windows, and upload the file using VRM Settings menu over Wifi. But I will buy the MK3 to do this more easily, and I think I will need this cable for connection to Raspberry Pi when I get around to playing with that in the future.
  9. REC BMS seems to make the SOC% charge complete decision based on cell level voltages, as well as other information. So I think this will be ‘safer’ than the BMV712 algorithm. I like the BMV712 programmable relay, but at this stage, cannot think of an application for this! So I guess I don't need to buy a BMV712.

Please let me know if any of this is incorrect. I do feel as if I am missing the point of some of this stuff. It seems like the CCGX is not quite ‘in the same camp’ as the Victron.Connect development methodology. I think I am probably getting more toys than I need, but maybe that’s part of the fun of the game!

Thanks again, Andy

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andyalford avatar image
andyalford answered ·

@Wildebus That's really helpful. I wanted to ask the Community rather than Technical Support, as it is so helpful to understand my likely usage scenario. This is such a major upgrade for me. And nice to get it (mostly) right first time.

My understanding continues….

  • Bluetooth is a ‘nice to have’ technology for initial configuration, and particularly, for checking devices in isolation. Maybe not be completely dependable (many Google reviewers talk of range / connection issues. I like Bluetooth but many struggle to get it to work reliably.) Whereas, the Venus GX / VRM architecture is a robust and sophisticated view of the complete system.
  • As suspected, the MK3 is an essential bit of kit, and likely can serve a second purpose with a RaspPi; I will buy it.
  • The VE.Bus Smart Dongle is a bit pointless for me, as …
    • I will be buying CCGX anyway
    • Battery temp and voltage is best as a direct wire connection to MultiPlus
    • alarm and relay configuration is probably best done with VE.Connect and MK3 cable (although, I hate trying to find USB cables, and getting those connections to work after being stored for months in a salty environment!!)
    • quick configuration of on/off & current limit has to be done on CCGX as it is master
    • VE.Bus Smart Dongle is thus only providing view-only status information on Bluetooth – VRM does the same thing…
  • SmartSolar versus BlueSolar – I will go for SmartSolar for both controllers, as I will want to observe and adjust configuration settings from time to time; but I can imagine I will use VRM for system performance over the longer time
  • I had seen the VRM demo and not been confident that the detail of granularity was there, so that is reassuring to know that
  • I am also hoping to use VRM to observe cell level voltages over longer periods of times, (reported to CCGX through VE.Can from REC Active BMS Battery Management System.) But we will have to see how that can be done!! Maybe I have to write a script or something to get a custom graph???

I currently use a lot of Bluetooth on the boat – and I am amazed that it all works. I have 2x JBL Charge 3 speakers, connected as a Stereo pair over BLE. They work amazingly well. At the same time the Logitech MX Master mouse and K810 keyboard are finding a gap to send their data (approx. 5m range, occasionally disconnect which is irritating.) And I have a Miccus Home RTX long range Bluetooth audio receiver with RCA jacks for the main boat stereo amplifier. And this will catch my phone playing over Bluetooth from anywhere on deck, at least +/- 7m from the receiver. And then I have Bluetooth NMEA Mux which sends out GPS position and boat sensor data 10 times a second. That has never missed a beat! So I am wondering if I have filled the bandwidth! One advantage of being on a boat in the water is – no neighbours and the only interference is from your own stuff. And it is not a metal box (mine is fibreglass mostly and some wood.)

Thanks for your insightful words and opinions. Superb. Andy

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David avatar image David commented ·

Glad to be of help :)

Ref your comment going for SmartSolar over BlueSolar ... 100% agree even if you were to plan to use VRM exclusively for monitoring.

I rarely use the Victron Connect for monitoring any devices, but having it available makes life so much easier for setting up, tweaking and a quick & dirty check of what is happening, and would always recommend the version with BT over the version without every time! (I recently got a BP-220 and ordered the one without BT accidently. It works fine but still annoyed with myself I got the wrong one :( )

A little off-topic but for the future...
Ref VRM Granularity ... The FULL Data is stored for 6 months and can be drilled down in detail for that time period. If you want to be able to view historical information older than that, you would need to download the data. I now download and keep the data on a month-by-month basis so I will be able to access it no matter how old (I was not aware of this 6 month thing until fairly recently so lost quite a bit of detail, but the overviews are kept longer - 5 years? maybe forever?)

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