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greenHouse Gas and Electric™

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greenMonitor™ Renewable Energy System monitoring software

Table of Contents

Description

The greenMonitor Renewable Energy System monitoring software is designed to monitor and manage your APRS World, Bogart Engineering, Morningstar or OutBack Power Technologies based renewable energy system. Unlike other products which require a direct connection to monitored equipment, or force you to subscribe to a monitoring service, the greenMonitor Renewable Energy System monitoring products allow management and monitoring from any location on the Internet, via dialup or cellular modem, point-to-point FM radio modem or serial-to-IP converter, subject only to Internet connectivity between locations. Only one tool within the suite must be connected to the system directly, or via one of the previously mentioned means, with connectivity to the remainder of the tools being made using a built-in TCP/IP server. Additionally, greenMonitor is able to perform active grid management, unlike other tools which only tell you the current or historical status, or notify you of events or service intervals. With the gmManage tool, you can choose to minimize selling (if you have a poor or no net-metering agreement with your electric provider), minimize spilled or wasted solar power harvesting (to increase return on your investment), or maximize use of solar power.



Hardware Solutions

We specialize in producing low power data logging and acquisition solutions for renewable energy system owners and installers.

greenLogger Lite
Our most popular data acquisition solution is the greenLogger Lite™ low power data logger.  The greenLogger Lite data logger is based on the AMD Geode processor on an ALIX.3D2 or ALIX.3D3 mother board with 256MB RAM and 8GB (16 and 32GB optional) flash drive storage standard.  Twelve volt nominal power is supplied via a Power over Ethernet (PoE) connection to an OutBack Power Systems inverter AUX output (700ma @ 12VDC maximum) or using a 15 volt power supply (North American version supplied, standard).  Ideally suited for very low power systems, the greenLogger Lite data logger supports a single OutBack Power Technologies Mate display controller monitoring up to 6 devices (inverters, charge controllers or FLEXnet DC battery monitor).  List price for the Model 228 is $375 (shipping within the United State and Canada is included.  Shipping and handling and any required export fees or duties to overseas customers extra). greenLogger Lite low-power data logger

10BaseT ethernet and Power Over Ethernet connection RS-232 connector pre-wired for Mate display controller 12V DC input jack for optional 12 volt power supply 3 LED status indicators

All of our hardware solutions include a 12 month limited warranty (24 months on the greenLogger Lite)  on defects in materials or workmanship, in addition to any manufacturer warranties on materials.  For hardware service, please contact customer support for a Return Material Authorization number.  Shipping and handling to and from Austin, Texas, along with any export fees or duties, is not included.


Software Solutions

The greenMonitor Renewable Energy System monitoring software is available separately for installation on almost any platform that supports the Java® runtime environment and at least one serial port (RS-232) or a USB port capable of supporting a USB to RS-232 adapter, including Microsoft® Windows® and Linux®.

greenMonitor Individual Standard Edition

The greenMonitor Individual Edition software is designed for an individual system owner or sole-proprietor renewable energy system installer who either owns a single OutBack Power Technologies system, or who is a small business with a limited number of customers. The Individual Standard Edition software includes all of the advanced management tools and display applications as well as the gmServer individual system monitoring server.

greenMonitor Individual Advanced Edition

The greenMonitor Individual Edition software is designed for an individual system owner or sole-proprietor renewable energy system installer who either owns a single OutBack Power Technologies system, or who is a small business with a limited number of customers. The Individual Advanced Edition software includes everything in the Invidual Standard Edition, as well as support for Modbus devices and other 3rd party hardware.

greenMonitor Site Edition

The greenMonitor Site Edition software is designed for an individual renewable energy installation having more than one Mate display controller. Typical applications are installations with more than a total of 10 inverters, charge controllers and battery monitors combined into multiple seperate systems.

greenMonitor Business Edition

The greenMonitor Business Edition software is designed for professional installation and maintenance businesses having one or more employees responsible for the installation and maintenance of renewable energy systems.

Clients and Case Studies

For information about a few of our clients and how they are using our products and services, please read our case studies page.


Availability

We are currently shipping Version 2.04.01 of the software and expect the final general availability release of Version 3.01.00 in the coming weeks.

greenMonitor Monitoring Software Hardware Requirements

Specific hardware requirements are based on the number of monitored systems, as well as the operating system being used to operate the greenMonitor software.

Typical memory requirements are 512MB of RAM, plus 128MB of RAM for each additional monitored system. For server-class operating systems, such as Windows 2003 Server and Linux, memory requirements will be lower due to shared memory utilization.

Typical processor requirements are satisfied based on operating system support.  For AMD Geode process class systems (found in our ultra low power greenLogger Lite system), a single Mate display controller with up to ten attached devices can be monitored.

Typical network bandwidth is minimal, and based on the number of display clients which are connected to the greenMonitor product. All network connected system performance values assume suitable network connectivity of 1KB per second per connection. For a 100BaseT (100 megabits per second) Local Area Network (LAN), the total number of network monitored systems and client connections should be limited to 500 or fewer. For a 1000BaseT (1 gigabit per second) LAN, the total number of network monitored systems and client connections should be limited to 5,000 or fewer. We have not tested on 10BaseT LANs or T1 or T3 Wide Area Networks. Due to high bandwidth requirements during certain operations, we do not recommend more than 25 connections per individual T1 circuit. WiFi (Wireless) network performance limits depend on specific wireless hardware and the wireless access point configuration. We recommend not more than 25 monitored system per 801.11g channel. Note that due to sharing between clients on a wireless channel, we recommend that multiple data streams be consolidated using a wired network prior to transmitting over an 801.11g connection.

Typical hard disk space requirements are based on the level of detail in the logged data. At the highest level of detail, storage requirements are approximately 25MB per day per system. This assumes per-second logging and per minute statistical data storage for a Mate display controller connected to a fully configured Hub 10. At the lowest level of detail, storage requirements are approximately 2.5MB per day per system. This assumes per-second logging, with no statistical data storage, for a Mate display controller connected to a fully configured Hub 10.


System Requirements

Our system monitoring products require that the renewable energy system have a source for the data, such as an OutBack Power Systems Mate display controller, or Modbus interfaces for Modbus-enabled devices, and all of the needed components.  You will need a Linux or Microsoft Windows operating system compatible system, or a greenLogger data logger for the greenMonitor software.  The following list is not inclusive and installers with questions should contact our sales department.

APRS World

  • Wind Data Logger
  • 12 volt DC power, or AC adapter
  • RJ45 breakout boards, as needed, for connecting sensors
  • Assorted sensors, as needed

Bogart Engineering

  • PentaMetric battery monitor
  • Network connections near monitoring system
  • RS-232 interface for PentaMetric

Energy, Inc.

  • TED 5000 and required number of current transducers.
  • Wired network connection between TED 5000 gateway and LAN
    • Note: The TED 5000 power line network communication is susceptible to electrical noise.  The network connection may need to be made in a location with cleaner power.

Morningstar

  • RS-232 to Modbus™ adapters, as needed
  • Readily available DC power for Relay Driver.  (Supported charge controllers and inverters powered by attached battery bank)
  • Network connections near the monitoring system

OutBack Power Technologies

  • Mate display controller
  • FLEXnet DC battery monitor (optional)
  • Hub4 or Hub10, depending on total component count
  • Readily available power
  • Network connections near the monitoring system
  • RS-232 or other data connectivity to the Mate display controller

Veris Industries

  • Required number of AC current transducers
  • Burden resistors or other mechanism for converting 4-20ma signal to appropriate voltage. 0 to 5 VDC transducers recommended instead.
  • APRS World Wind Data Logger or other supported analog-to-digital converter

Watts Up? Meters

  • Smart Circuit 20 or Watts Up? .Net for circuits to monitor
  • RJ45 cabling to connect device to LAN

Software Features

The following software features apply to both the stand-alone software products, as well as the embedded hardware solutions listed above.

Logging and Reporting

As with competitors products, the greenMonitor system provides full details on the real-time performance of your Outback Power Systems or Morningstar installation. Additionally, highly detailed data is logged on a per-minute or per-hour basis in an industry standard XML file format. No need for third-party database products or off-site records storage.

Notifications

A complete set of user-configurable actions can be added to the system configuration file, making a wide range of event notifications possible, using either e-mail or SMS (for SMS users with e-mailable addresses).  The gmEvents tool allows you to easily define custom events and notifications.

Network Enabled

Unlike our competitors products which may require workarounds to get onto the Internet, the greenMonitor software was designed from the ground-up to be network capable. And because it was designed from the start to be network accessible, it is also sharable, allowing system owners and maintenance personnel to look at the same data at the same time to solve customer problems. There's no need to send files to customer support to be reviewed, simply contact your monitoring service (if you are a customer) or access your customer's system (if you are a dealer / installer) and review the system's behavior in real-time.

Security

Unlike our competitors' products which use weak "Simple Substitution Ciphers" and allow "Replay Attacks", the greenMonitor software supports per-user accounts with individual passwords per user, strong passwords based on the MD5 Hash,  authentication timestamps to prevent replay attacks, and remaindering to prevent guessing the original password.

Each user account can be enabled or disabled individually, with the results taking effect immediately (or as soon as any active connections are terminated).  An integrated Firewall and Intrusion Detection System prevents repeated attacks from taking place, even if the attacker is successful at guessing the required authentication information.

Website Ready

greenMonitor includes four Java™ technology based applets which can be embedded in your website, in addition to being useful on their own.  A number of PHP files, preconfigured in our greenMonitor Lite product, are included as well for embedding bar charts into websites or producing your own on-line monitoring web pages.  In addition, the gmMobile command is included for remote system viewing on smart phones, tablets and web browsers.


Optional Equipment

In addition to the greenMonitor software, we also offer connection solutions to attach your renewable energy system components to your computer system, as well as weather station options for integrating weather and system performance data.

  • MATE-6FT -- 6 foot RS-232 connection cable. Constructed from RoHS compliant materials and fully-shielded. Has a DB-9 male connector for the Mate connection and DB-9 female connector for the computer connection. $25 plus shipping and handling. For longer lengths, add $1 per foot. If you require plenum-rated insulation, please request a price quote.  This cable is also compatible with most standard Serial-to-IP converters.
  • MODEM-6FT-DB9 -- 6 foot dialup modem connection cable. Constructed from RoHS compliant materials and fully-shielded. Has DB-9 female connectors on both ends, with one end labeled for connecting to the Mate display controller and the other for connecting to dialup modem. $25 plus shipping and handling.
  • MODEM-6FT-DB25 -- 6 foot dialup modem connection cable. Constructed from RoHS compliant materials and fully-shielded. Has DB-9 female connector the Mate display controller and a DB-25 female connector for the modem. $25 plus shipping and handling.
  • Weather Station -- The La Crosse Technology family of weather stations includes models which can be integrated with the greenMonitor software. We recommend the WS 2317 from Amazon.com.

Texas residents, please add 8.25% state sales tax. All prices are F.O.B. Austin, Texas and exclude packaging and shipping (except the greenLogger products, as noted on the pricing web page) as well as export / import fees and duties.


Product Support

Please contact customer support to report any hardware or software problems with your greenMonitor or greenLogger product. For software support, you may use the software download page to download an updated installation image if your issue has already been corrected in the current release. If you have a system performance problem, and you've installed greenMonitor already, we are available to diagnose your system problems on-line on a consulting basis.


Product Comparisons

greenMonitor versus WattPlot

Background

WattPlot from Intallact is one of the older products for monitoring OutBack Power Technologies equipment. The product is now very outdated and many of the features have severe limitations.  The software itself is built on obsolete runtime environments, such as "WinSock" and the software installer has difficulties with newer versions of Microsoft Windows, requiring customers to install the software on separate disk drives or run it in an emulation mode.

Many of the claimed features of WattPlot are limited to the much more expensive license levels, such as WattPlot PRO (required for automatic actions) or WattPlot MultiMATE (required to access systems containing more than one Mate display controller), or do not function as claimed (compressed log files do not have the claimed resolution or contents). You may read a complete product comparison on this page.

greenMonitor versus Envi, TED 5000 and other CT-based monitors

Background

There is a growing trend in renewable energy system monitoring towards ever lower prices and price points as the costs of the system components -- inverters, charge controllers and solar panels -- continues to fall.  While some price reductions are possible due to lower system component prices, or the use of different hardware platforms, much of the price reductions are at the expense of monitoring functionality.

The two most commonly discussed products within the solar power industry are the Envi and TED 5000 power monitors.  Both devices use current transformers to measure current flows between over various wires, such as between the utility electric meter and the renewable energy system, or between the inverter and the power disconnect.  Neither of those devices are capable of providing any other status information, including the status of system components.  Additionally, the companies behind these products are not in the renewable energy design, installation, maintenance or monitoring business.  Our experience with the TED 5000 is that it requires significant experience with the product itself to install and configure properly.

Both the Envi and TED 5000 power monitors require third-party software in order to view the data over the Internet.  This raises significant concerns about future compatibility between existing installed systems and newer third party software.  The TED 5000 was supported by Google PowerMeter, but that service was cancelled in 2011.  In addition, because the installer or customer does not own the web servers, customer requested features may be impossible to implement. Finally, it's been our experience that data ownership provides significant value in terms of future system upgrades as well as installer brand recognition.  We often use actual customer data when sizing systems for clients in the same area, or when sizing upgrades.

Proper system monitoring requires knowing more than just the number of kilowatt-hours produced at any given time.  Our predicted power output feature allows you to compare theoretical system output against actual system output to determine if the proper amount of power is being produced on any given day or time.  Gradual system degradation, which cannot be detected by products such as the Envi or TED 5000, is immediately obvious.  With the APRS World Wind Data Logger, environmental sensors such as pyranometers and panel temperature sensors, additional advantages over those CT-only products are realized.  Our support for the Smart Circuit 20 means that you can monitor and control an unlimited number of 20 amp circuits at the same time you monitor system performance.  And because we don't require a third-party web server, we're able to provide monitoring services in areas with little or no Internet connectivity.


Documentation

Answers to Frequently Asked Questions


Pricing

Detailed price information, including dealer and reseller prices and discounts, is here.

History

greenHouse Gas and Electric was founded in 2011 as a way to separate the renewable energy products which were developed by our owner from the low power computing products originally at the heart of greenHouse Computers, LLC.  With the overwhelming volume of our sales now focused in renewable energy systems monitoring products, it's time to separate the low-power and off-grid computing solutions from the renewable energy system products.  Thus, greenHouse Gas and Electric was born to serve as your source for the most advanced monitoring and control products available for off-grid and battery-backed systems users and installers.

Important Notice:

greenHouse Computers, LLC and greenHouse Gas and Electric are two separate entities.  Although both have a common ownership, and currently share many of the same pieces of "trade dress", they are separate businesses.  We are working to clarify the separation between the businesses, as we clarify the product lines that each will be responsible for marketing.

Please do not contact us for information regarding greenHouse Computers, LLC products.  Please use the contact information for that company.  Thank you for your understanding.
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greenMonitor and the greenLogger hardware solution names are trademarks of greenHouse Gas and Electric
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