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Review: emonPi Solar PV Bundle
#1
I received my emonPi and was eager to get this up and running as soon as possible.

I got the basic Solar PV bundle which included the emonPi, AC/AC Power Adapter, WiFi Antenna and two CT Sensors.

   

The emonPi is based on both Open Source Hardware (Raspberry Pi) and Software (Linux) so I already knew that it wasn’t going to be as simple as they said it would to set it up – I was proved correct.

   

It all looked pretty basic to begin with so I connected up the emonPi to the AC Adapter.
The AC Adapter’s plug was not available for Australia/New Zealand so, when I placed the ordered, I randomly chose one of the other two countries offered.
After sourcing an EU to AU/NZ Adapter I plugged it in but the emonPi would not power-on.

After fussing around and checking that the voltage was actually correct I decided it was time to RTFM (Read The on the F.cking Manual) on their website: https://openenergymonitor.org/ 

The documentation told me to plug in the 5V USB Power Cord – a little confused I opened the empty box to check where this thing was – nope, not there and apparently not supplied.
The AC (to AC) Adapter is used to reference the Mains Voltage for Measurement and NOT power the emonPi.
So, off I go again to town to buy a 5V USB Adapter and Cord (yes, had to buy them separately).

By now, half the day was gone before I could even turn this thing on!
Never the less, I saw some hope after I saw the emonPi turn on and it’s LCD showed me good things.

Following the instructions, I connected to the emonPi with my Phone and managed to quite easily get to the WiFi Setup Menu to configure.
Only problem is that I could NOT pick-up my WiFi Network – I could see ALL other neighbor's WiFi Networks except my own.
This resulted me in doing things like power-cycling my WAPs, upgrading their Firmware and power-cycling the WAP and emonPi countless times...
Eventually and REALLY frustrated I discovered incomplete bits of information on their Website which indicated that the Raspberry Pi does NOT by default support my WiFi Network’s Channel 13! I could not see a WARNING LABEL anywhere in the box/packaging that would indicate that I had just entered Hell! 

WTF!

Off I go again to figure out how to make this emonPi work with my Channel 13 WiFi (changing the Channel is NOT an option as it is a “clean” Channel and managed by the Ubiquiti Server which controls 6 UniFi AC Pro WAPs).

So, once again, I hit Google to get some solutions.

The emonPi Forum provides “sketchy” and incomplete information on how to enable Channel 13 - the information may be relevant to Raspberry Pi and/or Linux experts but certainly NOT for a normal man-in-the-street.
Eventually Google told me that I had to change my WiFi Regional Settings to include a country that supports Channel 13.

OK, that was the end of what I call "Day 1".

DAY 2
Another day later and using an Ethernet cable to connect to emonPi and forcing myself to learn things like SSH and use a program called Putty to log into the old DOS (Linux) command Operating System (Linux)…
After numerous rejected attempts to log in to the DOS box and stumbling upon the correct username and password, I then proceeded to copy and paste commands scoured from various sources on Google to try and get this emonPi to work on modern day WiFi Networks that include Channel 13.
After banging out some DOS commands I managed to EVENTAULLY enable Channel 13 - however, the settings would not stick. After shutting down and re-starting the emonPi, all the DOS commands had to be entered again - after asking Google even more questions I managed to make the settings stick with a stupid and simple DOS command.

That was Day 2 and unfortunately not much time left in the day to actually (eventually) install this thing - that will be a "Day 3" thing...

This is so far my summary (to be updated as this project progresses):

- I was impressed by the quality of "the little box" and how neatly it was assembled - well done guys.
- My first beef with this setup was the lack of a 5V USB Power Source and Cable to actually power the unit? Surely this should have been bundled with the unit? I have never bought an electronic/electrical device that does NOT come with a Power Source - you need to address this guys.
- Not everyone in the World lives in the UK or EU - there are some folk who live in foreign (and awesome) places like Australia and New Zealand - why AU/NZ options are not available is a little beyond my comprehension.
- The setup for WiFi on Channel 13 sure threw a curveball and spanner in the works for a non-Linux/Raspberry Pi expert – surely this should be addressed/configured BEFORE shipping out a unit to a country that DOES support Channel 13?

A normal European purchaser who operates their WiFi on the "lower crowded" Channels and has the correct plug and a spare 5V USB Power Source lying around will have this unit up and running in around 15-minutes or less.

I have since lost excitement in this appliance due to my inexperience with Linux (my time is better spent elsewhere) and those other stupid Power requirements.
All I wanted and expected was something that was plug-and-play and I could setup and record the output of my Solar and Wind generation - am I asking too much or did I make a wrong decision in choosing a "simple" device I could use to monitor my power generation?

Watch this space for developments... DAY 3 will happen when I have gained a bit more confidence.
#2
Seems like a good product indeed. I just hope they're planning on improving on the shortcomings as well. The manufacturing quality certainly looks pretty good, judging by those pics.
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