Retrofitting a 1MW Solar Farm for Efficiency with IRIV PiControl

Retrofitting a 1MW Solar Farm for Efficiency with IRIV PiControl

By EDA Solutions

The Challenge:

A 1MW solar farm suffers from malfunctioning monitoring due to outdated 1MW solar inverters reaching the end of their support lifespan. This hinders critical data collection and impairs efficient operation and maintenance (O&M).


The 1 MW Solar Farm


The Solution:

A clever retrofit, powered by open-source technologies, breathes new life into the system. Here's how:

  • Custom Node-RED: A bespoke Node-RED is developed to specifically acquire serial data, matching the unique data structure and format of the Kaco Powador inverters. Node-RED is a visual programming tool, perfect for building custom data flows.


  • IRIV PiControl powered by Raspberry Pi CM4: The custom program (Node-RED) runs on an Industrial Controller, a compact yet powerful IR4.0 Edge Controller developed by Cytron Technologies. The IRIV-PiControl comes with comprehensive Industrial interfaces. For example, the fully isolated RS485 and RS232 ports. Fully Isolated Digital Inputs and Outputs, and Analog inputs. IRIV PiControl also comes with dual RJ45/Ethernet Ports, making it perfect for internal machine communication and another Ethernet port for Internet access. This cost-effective and versatile platform handles data acquisition with ease.


  • MQTT & Grafana Cloud: The extracted data is fed via MQTT, a lightweight messaging protocol, to the Grafana cloud platform. Grafana excels at data visualization and observability, enabling real-time monitoring and performance insights.


The IRIV PiControl as the Gateway to collect data from Solar Inverters via RS485


The Benefits:

  • Data Continuity: The new system seamlessly replaces the outdated monitoring, ensuring uninterrupted data collection.
  • Enhanced Efficiency: Real-time monitoring empowers informed O&M decisions, optimizing performance and maximizing energy output.
  • Cost-Effectiveness: Leveraging open-source tools and Raspberry Pi minimizes hardware costs compared to proprietary solutions.
  • Future-Proofing: The modular design allows for scalability and easy integration of future upgrades.



The Impact:

There are 16 Inverters and are all connected to IRV PiControl’s RS485 port in a daisy-chain topology


This retrofit demonstrates the power of open-source solutions and innovative thinking in revitalizing aging solar infrastructure. By extending the lifespan of existing equipment and improving O&M efficiency, this project contributes to a more sustainable and cost-effective solar future. The data collected from each inverter are:

  • Power of AC (Alternate Current)
  • Power Factor, Q of AC
  • Current, I of AC
  • Voltage, V of AC
  • Energy of AC
  • Status of the inverter

All these data are then restructured to be Kaco Powador telemetry format and fed to the cloud. 



IRIV PiControl has shown the performance and endurance of Industrial edge controllers. The openness of its architecture, ready with Raspberry Pi OS, and support from many software makes it the perfect choice for this project. 


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