Home automation... in the van?

Sep 17, 2017
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So I'm pretty nerdy and I've got quite a lot of my house wired up to a home automation system. Lights turn on automatically when I move about. I can shout at Google to tell me stuff about the house. The washing machine in the garage announces that it's done to stop us leaving stuff in there until it smells. I get a warning when the cat's GPS tracker leaves the area. Like I said, nerdy stuff.

My home automation system runs on a Raspberry Pi, using a piece of software called Home Assistant. It plugs into many different smart devices and integrates into many online services.

Anyway, was interested in getting the information about the van's solar panel on my phone. I've got a Victron setup. The smartphone app is OK, but it's a bit basic. On another thread, steveh57 got me interested in running the Victron control system software on a Raspberry Pi. I played with this for a bit. But it seemed a bit limited.

I wondered if I could use Home Assistant in the van. I've got ideas for a bit of Google voice integration and a few other bits. But I wanted to know if I could get the data from the solar panel without having to run the Victron software. It turns out that someone has already done the work for me. With a £5 ESP microcontroller, two wires and about 15 minutes of play, I can get the data out of the Victron and into Home Assistant.
Screenshot 2021-09-10 155630.png


At the moment the ESP board is powered by a USB battery pack and it's mounted to a breadboard with a couple of jumper wires. So it needs to be made more permanent. But it works!
PXL_20210910_150158422.jpg


Info on how to connect Home Assistant to a Victron solar controller is here:
 
May 19, 2020
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Very nerdy :LOL: I see there's also a package for the smartshunt as well.
 
May 19, 2020
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One potential obstacle for me using this method for monitoring is that I do use the VictronConnect App remotely to adjust device settings, ok not very frequently, just wondering if there is a possible work around .
 
OP
Guigsy
Sep 17, 2017
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One potential obstacle for me using this method for monitoring is that I do use the VictronConnect App remotely to adjust device settings, ok not very frequently, just wondering if there is a possible work around .
The app still works on Bluetooth.

The ESP is actually only reading data spit out by the Victron. It's not connected to the receive side at all. I'm wondering if you could connect your Pi at the same time? I'm not sure if serial connections will let you do that?
 
May 19, 2020
153
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The app still works on Bluetooth.
True,I just find it some much more reliable and indeed without the range constraints to use the vrm portal. As you say if it could be combined .... the best of both
 
Jul 29, 2021
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Nottingham, UK
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True,I just find it some much more reliable and indeed without the range constraints to use the vrm portal. As you say if it could be combined .... the best of both

Very cool, I've been looking at Home Assistant. I've got a Philips Hue hub and a SmartThings hub in the van at the mo. Went with Hue for the lighting since it doesn't need an active internet connection to change the lights.

Love the Victron VRM system too. So well integrated. I'm using Victron ESS to schedule charge the van battery when it's 5p/kWh at night and then the Multiplus feeds mains back into my house supply during the day. My average price is 7.6p/kWh at the mo for the full day. I'm not 100% if I'll keep that in place full time since, although it would save about £300/year on my leccy bill, I'm actually using more kWh doing the AC-DC-AC conversation so not great from an environmental perspective. I'm on Octopus so the power is supposed to be 100% renewable but still feels a bit wrong.
 

cmcardle75

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Jun 8, 2012
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Love the Victron VRM system too. So well integrated. I'm using Victron ESS to schedule charge the van battery when it's 5p/kWh at night and then the Multiplus feeds mains back into my house supply during the day. My average price is 7.6p/kWh at the mo for the full day. I'm not 100% if I'll keep that in place full time since, although it would save about £300/year on my leccy bill, I'm actually using more kWh doing the AC-DC-AC conversation so not great from an environmental perspective. I'm on Octopus so the power is supposed to be 100% renewable but still feels a bit wrong.

It is environmentally responsible to do this and strongly encouraged by Octopus. You are actually buying cheap wind electricity at night and selling it back at peak time, reducing the need to supply gas/coal power. Battery banks intended to store cheap renewable energy to cover peak times are a key element of transforming electricity infrastructure.

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Minxy Girl

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Aug 22, 2007
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Since 1996 we've had Elddis, Swift, Rapido, Rimor, Chausson MHs and Autocruise & Globecar PVCs
I can think of a few drawbacks of 'Lights turn on automatically when I move about' in a moho
... you mean when you try to do a sneaky raid on the booze cupboard !!! :giggle:
 
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