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tpbradysr avatar image

How to configure, control, and monitor Victron equipment?

Is this a reasonable graphic showing how to configure, control, and monitor Victron equipment?



Victron Configuration, Control, Monitoring Logic.pdf

VEConfigure 3
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Reasonable is the key word. I couldn't find one.

I am in the middle of setting up my first Victron system and have been dumbfounded numerous times which is ironic given how falsely confident I was that my background should have prepared for me this.

I've read the manuals, searched all the forums and it feels like I've watched every YouTube video I can find including those by Victron proper. I've even read the YouTube video comments looking for kernels of wisdom but nothing. All that I can find assumes you already have a working knowledge so they skip a ton of steps or are using old software with menus in different places, etc than what I have (yes I did the updates immediately on powering up) It seems like each one has to be turned on/off/configured/enabled/disabled in different places and in a different order each time.

Why does it take so many different software programs to program / setup and monitor the equipment? Some products don't work until you find and install a driver. Some products need firmware updates before you can do anything. Some products tell me that my newer software was out of date. IE: 1.76 needed to be "updated" to 1.54. And why are there so many communication protocols?? My system has Bluetooth, WiFi, VeBus, VeCan, VeDirect, USB, Ethernet, VEDirect to Wifi and HDMI and probably a few others I'm sure I'm forgetting.

Of course I'm sure there is a method to Victron's madness but it was grossly complicated by my supplier utterly failing to answer tech support questions. Only later I did I finally learn that my sales person (whose title was engineer) was not in fact tech support. Their tech support is easier to get a hold of except there's only guy there that really knows Victron and he's apparently a ghost because I've never spoke to him. Good luck!

6 Answers
Guy Stewart (Victron Community Manager) avatar image
Guy Stewart (Victron Community Manager) answered ·

Hi @Nobodyspecial

I have been working for a few years now writing Victron documentation, creating training resources, and managing this community.

The downside is that I am increasingly comfortable with the chaos.


It would be very valuable if you could take the time to write (in a new post) your complete experience, most especially specific and detailed reference the points where you felt there were big gaps, or assumption of knowledge without the link to a resource explaining it.


Those gaps have been closing over the years, and I believe I have closed most of those that I know about and frustrated me when I first starting installing Victron equipment, but there are surely some that I cannot see, and could probably improve pretty quickly.


Why tho?

As to why it is this way with so many products, protocols and software, Victron turned 45 years old last year - making it one of the longest running inverter manufacturers in the world.

Reinout Vader, the father/founder of Victron (who is still there today) in R&D, started the company and hand building inverters because he personally needed one for his boat and couldn't find a good one. The entire time since has had a continuity of development, and there have been a LOT of changes in the associated computer world.


There is a very conscious and deliberate effort to consolidate everything into the current state of the art tools (basically GX devices, VRM & VictronConnect, check out amount of working constantly going into VictronConnect alone!).


There is also ongoing new products that require the developers to work both on making those feature complete as quickly as possible, as well as improving and simplifying things for the existing vast product range (such as support for new android phones when they get released, and so on).


With so many products (over 1000 SKUs), and so many integrations, in so many different markets, Matthijs must be relentless in maintaining the company focus.


It is also a big job for the dealers to be savvy with the entire range, applied to your specific circumstances. Finding a Victron specialist at a dealer is gold, and of course we encourage dealers to dedicate an employee to Victron. Please do support those dealers who invest in the ongoing training of their teams. We believe it is well worth their while, and want them to succeed.


PROTOCOLS


This one is a double edged sword. Wherever possible, Victron has used industry standard, open source communications protocols and interfaces. The huge benefit to this is that it allows a huge ecosystem of 3rd party accessories, integrations and independent development.


The downside is that this usually restricts things in some way or another, and so there must be many protocols and interfaces to match the different needs of all the different products for all the different markets. It is indeed overwhelming at first - there is also effort to re-consolidate, but also continuous pressure to expand and support new ones.


The best comfort I can offer is that none of the protocols or interfaces are added without ENORMOUS effort looking into how it could be done without adding a new one.



Last note - This was a big post, but I really want to encourage and support those people like yourself who have put in the work, and done the research. It is my goal at Victron that if people are willing to put in the time, they should be able to find the answers. Now back over to you to help me find those remaining gaps.

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Thank you for responding Guy. Also thank you for the back story! In the short time that I have been exposed to Victron I can tell that they are all about making a top of the line product that exceeds the users expectations and needs. I would love to be able help those in the same position as I was to be able to quickly find a useful resource to keep their project moving forward. I will have to think about how I can respond in the most effective manner. Best, Travis

build20 avatar image
build20 answered ·

Review section 2.1 of this manual for the Cerbo GX - This is the best diagram and be sure to differentiate where VE.Direct (weird 4-pin), VE.Can (network cable), & VE.Bus (network cable) & BMS-Can (only for batteries) is used...

https://www.victronenergy.com/media/pg/Cerbo_GX/en/installation.html

Summary

MOST MPPT Solar require VE.Direct cable to Gerbo (I thought would have used the bluetooth and sure would be nice but nope) (there is a new model (with VE.CAN in model) that uses VE.Can and allows daisy chaining with the Inverter and Lynx shunt. (VE.Direct is not daisy chained, but can be converted to USB if need more than 3 ve.direct devices on cerbo).

Reference: I am ordering some VE.direct cables today (IMO they should be included with either the Cerbo or the MPPT to be more customer friendly and decrease part count/complexity/speed installation)

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Including cables would be nice, but then if you need a different length (either for more reach, or shorter to keep wiring neater) then you end up with extra parts (and a little extra cost as a result).

tpbradysr avatar image
tpbradysr answered ·

Thanks everyone for the replies. I think I am going to change the logic in the drawing to show function--device/application--connection method--device(s). For example configure--PC VE Configure--MK3USB-Multiplus or configure/monitor--smart phone/Victron Connect--bluetooth--smart shunt. You can also configure the smart shunt using this string configure/monitor--smart phone/Victron Connect--Wifi--Cerbo GX--VE Direct--smart shunt.


Tom

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Guy Stewart (Victron Community Manager) avatar image
Guy Stewart (Victron Community Manager) answered ·

Hi @tpbradysr,

You are mostly on the right track, congratulations!

There isn't anything wrong per se with diagram, but I would like to clarify a few things, and also to get your help to improve where you learned them from.

With some very recent changes, the MK3 is no longer a 'must have' accessory for setting up a Victron system anymore. But personally I would never to go to a Victron installation without one, because it allows an additional/alternative access to some important functions.

The MK3 is not associated with Remote Console (as drawn in your diagram). Remote Console is accessible via the ethernet connection of the GX device (either via LAN, WIFI, or Internet).

The MK3 is used as a direct local interface between the MultiPlus and the USB port of a computer. This can be for programming with VE.Configure, updating firmware with VictronConnect, or configuring parallel or 3 phase systems with VE.Bus system configurator).

Now as long as your (Cerbo) GX device is connected to the internet, those functions are available via VRM - Remote VEConfigure, and Remote VE.Bus Firmware updates.


Bluetooth

A frequent assumption and frustration is that all this can and should be able to be done via Bluetooth. And if it was possible to offer a completely reliable system without wires, we would.

Instead bluetooth is an occasional convenience that should most definitely not be relied upon for any kind of reliable permanent connection. Even more so when it is controlling a power system.

In the same thread - Wifi is better, but it is STRONGLY recommended that you connect the Cerbo GX to your network with ethernet cables where-ever possible. Again, it's a nice convenience when it is working, but inherently less reliable than the wire.

For the indefinite future, wires will continue to be the reliable way to do it.

Once the GX is on your local network though, absolutely fine to use the wifi of your phone or computer to connect to it.


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Second the recommendation about hardwiring. I reckon literally 100% of the connectivity issues we have are at sites where we were unable to run ethernet and had to rely on WiFi. You wouldn't do it in an industrial installation - don't do it on one that you want to rely on.


Note, this is especially important when you have things like Grid Tie inverters that the GX-device needs to 'see' all the time without interruption.

Agreed. All too often, people think of wireless as "oh good, I don't have to run cables anymore". But it's much better treated as "now I have an option when I can't run a cable for that", but the cable is still preferred unless one of the devices is going to move regularly.

nobodyspecial avatar image
nobodyspecial answered ·

I'll take stab but keep in mind I might just be barely ahead of you on this subject.

You'll need the MK3 connected directly the Quattro's VEbus. I had to download (https://www.victronenergy.com/support-and-downloads/software) and a install driver for the MK3 using VEConfig. Just keep searching the pull down menu's on VEConfig and you'll find it. I recall that I ended up letting the software pick out the right file from the entire downloaded folder than trying to tell it which one. Hope that helps you a little bit.

The MK3 is connected my to PC's usb port (hence the need for the driver update). Both VE Config and Victron Connect are installed on this same PC. Using Victron Connect you can make tech level change.

Be patient it can take a while to take find the Quattro, sometime it finds it right away, other times it tell you nothing is detected so you need refresh a few times Then you can dig into the settings once it opens up.

Good luck Travis

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tpbradysr avatar image
tpbradysr answered ·

My question was not so much physical wiring as what you can do from a smart phone/tablet/computer using what interface. The capabilities change between using Victron Connect and Remote Console either on LAN or through the VRM portal or using the MK-3 interface. That's confusing in the documentation. For example as I understand it I can only fully configure a Multiplus through the MK-3 using a computer but I am not sure what software I use to do that since it is not a LAN Connection or a connection through the VRM Portal/Internet. I think it uses an internal web page in the Multiplus. I appear to be able to configure a Smart Shunt either through Victron Connect using the CERBO-GX wireless/LAN/Bluetooth connection to smart phone/tablet/computer or direct Bluetooth connection to the smart shunt. It also seems I can do limited configuration of a Multiplus through the CERBO-GX using Victron Connect. Monitoring is only through an open app or the GN-50 display which also seems to provide audio alarms.

Sorry for the long response, I was just hoping for a clearer idea what you can do with what using what.

Tom

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