jadedgate avatar image
jadedgate asked

Connecting 8 mppt controls to GX display to consolidate power generation display

Is there anywhere you can even pay to speak to a victron tech? I think 10 minutes with someone who really knows would negate hours of trying answer a simple question. Apologizes a bit frustrated after spending so much on victron gear. I have 8 solar panels on my catamaran and 8 mppt controllers. Yes these were purchased/installed from a Victron dealer and they are clueless. So now I’m searching forums to see if it can be done, any advice greatly appreciated. Master volt does this on all of friends boats so I have to assume victron does as well. Four mppt 100/30 w Bluetooth and four mppt 150/30 with Bluetooth.

The GX display is about 15-20meters away from the 8 mppt controllers and there is a Quattro 5kw inverter half way between the two. Do I need 8 to usb cables connected to a powered usd hub and then a 20m usd extension cable all the way back to the GX display? Can this be done in a simpler less complex way? Why have Bluetooth?

An second less important issue is I can see each individual controller but if I add up the output watts on each individual controller this total is about 40% less than what shows going into the battery.

Any direction is much appreciated I’m ready to throw this stuff overboard :)

MPPT Controllersbattery charging
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4 Answers
Mark avatar image
Mark answered ·

Sorry to hear about your troubles obtaining definitive advice, this should be the responsibility of your dealer and installer - even if they don't know all the answers themselves upfront.

Also sorry to break the news to you, but the VE. Smart Network will not share full data between all MPPT's so that only one unit needs to be connected to the Venus device. It is only intended to share limited information for the purpose of improving the charge cycle - such as accurate battery temperature and voltage from a BMV-712 or a Smart Battery Sense.

If you have 8 separate MPPT's with a VE.Direct interface - even with a powered USB hub this will NOT work with a CCGX or a VenusGX. The limit for these devices is 5 for the CCGX & 6 for the VenusGX.

Please refer to the Venus GX comparison document;

So for your installation / setup, unless you can reduce the total number of MPPT's / VE.Direct devices your only real option is to use an 'Octo GX' that has 10 VE.Direct inputs and locate it somewhere in the middle. Note that the longest VE.Direct cable that exists is 10m and it can't be extended since 10m is the practical limit before data transfer becomes an issue.

The other option that could have been consideried upfront would be to use the NEW VE.Can + VE.Direct range of MPPT's - these can be connected together with a 'daisy chain' configuration upto 25 units. Then only ONE unit needs to be connected to the Venus device.

The issue with this option (apart from you already having all the equipment) is that the smallest size unit in the range is 70A - so it would be a huge overkill to have 1 unit per solar panel + too expensive.

Realisticly, I think that your best bet is to;

- Speak to your dealer / installer again, particularly if they selected your current equipment.

- See if you can 'group' some of your solar panels to reduce / half the total number of MPPT's to a number that will work with your current Venus device.

Also remember that if you have a BMV in the system then that will also take up 1 of the available VE.Direct ports / capability.

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jadedgate avatar image jadedgate commented ·

Wow Mark thank you!! Are you available for hire in France lol. Really appreciate you taking the time to provide so much information. I don’t have a Victron BMV installed but there is an existing integrated system that came with the boat that does a great job. I think I will wait until we get to Ft. Lauderdale to make anymore changes. I’m guessing there will be some highly qualified techs there that can get me sorted out. In the mean time 3kw of solar keeps batteries full I just don’t get to geek out on stats. Thanks again.

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Mark avatar image Mark ♦♦ jadedgate commented ·

No problem, your welcome - glad to help!

Hopefully you can get it all sorted so that you can 'geek out' to your hearts content with data...

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jadedgate avatar image jadedgate commented ·

Hello Mark, I've created a crude layout that I will keep adding to of how the solar and victron gear is installed. I'd like to get these MPPT's talking to each other because they are getting confused turning on and off and switch BULK/ FLOAT etc. One panel production 1.5kw in a day the next 150w etc.

Was hoping to confirm I understand your advice. If I purchase the OCTO GX and install it next to the MPPT controllers I would need to attached each MPPT controller to the OCTO GX using the port.

Then I use an ethernet cable to connect the OCTO GX to the Quattro 5kw Inverter OR can I connect it to the CCGX Display? If it has to be connected to the quattro inverter then do I loss the CCGX Display? is there a way to have both?

If I'm underatdering this correctly than that should be rather simple to do.

What type of cable do I use to connect the MPPT to the OCTO? Is that a generic cable or special from Victron.

Thanks again for your time and generous asistance!



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Mark avatar image Mark ♦♦ jadedgate commented ·

At the moment the multiple VE.Direct MPPTs all act independently and have no knowledge of each other. As such they will change charge states independently and can be effected by each other.

Even thought this may all seem a little crazy, they will all work together during the bulk phase and from the batteries perspective, it will typically still provide the correct charge required (as a total) - even if some MPPTs switch to float much earlier than the others.

Now with that said, there is actually a MPPT FW upgrade currently being tested that will allow parallel charging and synchronised charge phase changes via the VE.Smart Network (Bluetooth). Unfortunately there is no plan for this feature through a Venus device (wired).

Regarding the OctoGX - yes each MPPT typically connects directly to the unit with a VE.Direct cable (available in various lengths upto 10m). An alternative is to use a VE.Direct to USB cable, but that should not be necessary with this unit since it has enough VE.Direct ports.

The Quattro also connects directly to the VE.Bus port on the Venus device using a RJ45 ethernet cable.

The OctoGX operates similarly to a VenusGX, as it has no screen. The CCGX can NOT be used as a remote screen / controller for either of these Venus devices. Although something similar to this is in the works...

To gain access / control simply use any phone, tablet or PC on the same WiFi / LAN network and you can either use the VictronConnect App or bring up a 'remote console' in your Web browser by typing in the related IP address.

Refer to section 2 - 'Accessing the device';

Remote console;

VRM Portal;

If the setup has internet access, you can also use VRM to access / control the setup from almost anywhere.

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jadedgate avatar image jadedgate Mark ♦♦ commented ·

Thanks again Mark I wish there was something I could do to repay you. Do you work for Victron you seem extremely knowlegable on this stuff. Since they have already cut a huge hole in my new boat for the CCGX Color console I'm stuck with it. It seems like the best course is to wait for the firmware upgrade which will solve all of my issues except seeing one total output on the CCGX display. I could live without that, getting the MPPT to play nicely together seems more important. All of my MPPT have version 1.39 installed, I've read there is a version 1.42 floating around, do you know if that is true? Is there even a beta version available for the new firmware I could try?

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Mark avatar image Mark ♦♦ jadedgate commented ·

No problem Jadedgate, its my pleasure - you can take me for a cruise in your catamaran if I am ever in France! :-) (PS: I am in Australia)

No I do not work for Victron, just a user (enthusiast I suppose) and help a little with Victron Community and also with some Beta FW testing/evaluation.

With MPPT FW v1.42 - it is officially released but its not yet included in VictonConnect for auto update - since the idea was to get more field exposure first.

If you are keen you can easily download the v1.42 FW files and perform a manual MPPT FW update.

To do so, create an account on the Victron Professional site, then locate the correct FW file for your model of MPPT(s) and download;

Then follow the instructions in section 8.2 of the VictronConnect online manual for 'Updating to a self-supplied firmware file';

If you run into trouble let me know, there are a few tricks for some older phones.

v1.42 has new 'user configurable' features that are not in the latest public release of VictonConnect, but if you are keen to take advantage of these now you can also download and install the latest VictronConnect Beta release;

FYI, the 'parallel charging' feature is due for release in FW v1.44 (timing unknown), my only concern with your setup is how well the VE.Smart Network Bluetooth connection will work if all your MPPT's are located a significant distance away from each other - ideally they should ALL be located in the same general area and the wiring from the solar panels extended to the MPPTs. This is also a better design for voltage drop/power loss then having the bulk of the wiring length at the lower battery voltage (and accordingly higher current).

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jadedgate avatar image jadedgate Mark ♦♦ commented ·

Well I plan on being in Australia in next 18 months so I may be able to setup that catamaran trip! All of the MPPT are very close ~20cm from each other so no worries there. If 1.42 doesn't have the parallel charging would there be any benefit? Inquiring if they can repair the hole they cut for the CCGX and install the OCTOgx next to the MPPT controllers. Then install 8 cables from MPPT to Octogx and a 10m ethernet cable from OCTOgx to the 5kw Quattro inverter and access everything from an ipad or phone. I pretty much only look at the CCgx through the web/browser interface now anyway so no real change AND I will get synchronized charging and better reporting of power output etc. OK, last questions :)

Does Victron have an interface that I can turn on and off underwater lights, and various 12v items through an app or browser? Otherwise, I was going to install something like this and connect to my Wifi Network but an integrated switch from Victron would be great. Masterbvolt does this well so I would assume Victron would have something similar. Cheers Mark

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Mark avatar image Mark ♦♦ jadedgate commented ·

Good to hear that all MPPTs are all located close by - sorry I must have misunderstood this. This should work well with a VE.Smart Network and is the arrangement that I would recommend.

The Quattro should work fine with a 10m ethernet cable connected between the VE.Bus ports.

Speaking to the FW developer, there is a good chance that a new version of VictronConnect Beta will be released by sometime next week - if so it should include a Beta version of v1.44 FW WITH parallel charging. So maybe hold out for another week or so and then give it a go if you are keen... Just keep checking on the VictronConnect Beta website.

MPPT FW v1.42 does have a number of improvements, if you want to know what has changed create an account on Victron Professional and download the MPPT FW 'change log'.

About repairing the CCGX hole (should you purchase an OctoGX), as stated earlier - I believe that a remote screen is in the works, so if you have any inclination to add a dedicated remote screen later (if/when it becomes available) then maybe consider temporarily covering the CCGX hole and utilizing the cutout later.

Regarding your lighting and remote activation, most Venus devices have a relay that can be used for generator start/stop or any other purpose (the Venus GX has 2 relays), including a manual remote on/off.

So if you just want to remotely switch on a single group of lights you could use this relay to drive a larger AC contactor to turn the lights on/off.

Or you could use the generator start/stop function to achieve more complex logic including using time conditions. The Venus device obviously does not know 'what' the relay is driving, so there is nothing wrong with using the generator start/stop function to control something else.

Just have a play with this feature, using your current CCGX (remotely or live) to see if it can achieve what you want.

If you want to control multiple groups of lights on & off independently, then you probably need something more specialized.

Also note that larger size MPPT units (150/45 and larger) include a relay that can be programmed using VictronConnect to act as an automatic 'street light'. Again if you are interested in this - Use the 'DEMO' feature in VictronConnect, load up a larger MPPT and have a play with the conditions/feature.

Also refer to the VictronConnect MPPT manual, section 4.3 - Streetlight Settings;

You can achieve 'streetlight' functionality with the smaller MPPT units, but you need to use a cable that plugs into the VE.Direct port, the issue then is that you can't plug it into your Venus device simultaneously.

Happy tinkering...

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Justin Cook avatar image
Justin Cook answered ·

@Jadedgate, I'm curious as to why you have a separate controller for each panel? I've definitely seen -and recommended- multiple controllers on a system when there are clusters of panels that are oriented differently and/or of differing types, etc., but one per panel is a bit unusual... curious as to the condition which led to that decision.

In re to the BT, etc., have you set up a VE.Smart Network between all the controllers? That's one of the main purposes of the BT connectivity, beyond just the cool factor of being able to see what's happening from your phone... I'm not the foremost authority on VE.Smart networks, but my experience suggests that you connect all your controllers via BT to a VE.Smart network and then connect one of the controllers to your CCGX using a VE.Direct-to-VE.Direct cable and you should "see" all of them, though I do know for a fact that the actual graphic display won't show all of them individually, as it doesn't seem to be able to resize its icons to be able to display more than one of each component. In spite of not being able see each controller as an icon on the display, however, the CCGX would still be tracking the information being reported by each controller.

I defer to anyone with more experience than I have in the VE.Smart networking details, as I've only set up a few small VE.Smart networks myself, but my understanding indicates that these networks are scalable to whatever size system you have, and it sounds like this would accomplish what you're aiming for...

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jadedgate avatar image
jadedgate answered ·

Hello Justin, thank you that would be perfect if that works. The reason for individual controller for each panel is on a boat the mast, lines, sails etc shade panels in random places. This way if a panel gets shaded which happens a lot it won’t effect output of the other panels. If your solution works just connect them on a network in the app and run one cable. I will get a long usb cable and to usb cable and try it.

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Justin Cook avatar image Justin Cook ♦♦ commented ·

@Jadedgate, in reading through the VE.Smart networking details I see a disclaimer that VE.Smart networks shouldn't be used when a CCGX is present, but I'm not sure why... here at our office we have a display unit set up that is on a VE.Smart network and connected to a CCGX and it works perfectly, so I'm not sure what the caveat is, or if there even is one. It's definitely a place to start, though.

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jadedgate avatar image jadedgate commented ·

Thanks again Justin! Your idea is the best I’ve received so far. Extremely frustrating to spend many 1000’s on victron gear and Not being able to speak with someone at victron to get answer even for a cost. Apparently the bar is low to be a victron dealer

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syfte avatar image
syfte answered ·

Well first off the CCGX is only rated for 5 devices ( I can tell you from personal experience though, that even 4 on USB adapters is spotty. I'm told that only 3 should be using the adapters to hit the supported 5 units.

It would be helpful to have a basic diagram of your system to assist in troubleshooting.

On a side note, 100/30s and 150/30s for single panels seems excessive...

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jadedgate avatar image jadedgate commented ·

So adding all of the mppt controllers to a single network and connecting one mppt controllers to the GX display with a use cable won’t work? Or are you saying the usb cable is too long and voltage drop will be too great? Sorry for novice questions I was expecting the installer that charged a small fortune to handle this nit my area of expertise but I’m motivated to learn

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syfte avatar image syfte jadedgate commented ·

I'm not sure how the BT networking with MPPTs work. My (limited) understanding is that the CCGX negates the need to use the Smart BT networking once you have everything talking to it.

For my setup, I have 4 non-BT MPPTs connected via USB/ cables to a powered USB hub, and the hub connected to the CCGX. I've had issues with MPPTs dropping off the system and having to re-seat cables to get it back to normal. My cable lengths are relatively short but I imagine you would have issues with longer custom cables.

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