When you get the device, it is pretty plain; a black box with an RJ-11 cable.
- Does it power itself from the solar controller?
- How do I get it to join my network?
- What is the mac address so that I can add it to my static IP addressing in DHCP?
- What does the blue light signify?
- What does the red light signify?
- What is the next step?
- Do I need an SD card?
I had all these and more.
Take a look at the box and you will see that the RJ-11 cable fits into the port on the front. This is just the data cable from the solar controller to the wifi interface. To power the box, it requires a 5v (NOT 12v!!!) supply to the micro usb port on the one end. Some inverters come with USB-A ports so a standard USB-A to micro usb phone cable would work or you could use the 'wall wart' style phone chargers that plug into a wall socket to power it.
**EDITORS COMMENT** New V5 Renogy and all EPEVER models are powered from the data port itself. But if there's a need for supplementary power for any reason this works. -JON
Once you have it powered, the configuration is done via wifi which the unit will broadcast but you won't know that unless you look for it. Use your phone, tablet or laptop to scan wifi for something that resembles SNEKTEK SOLAR and connect to that wifi SSID. There is no password.
Open up a browser and type http://192.168.4.1 into the address bar. The web page that comes up is the internal web dashboard used to configure the device. To connect the device to your own wifi, use the middle 'wifi' icon to enter your wifi details. Do not use the wrench icon, that is for changing the details of the internal access point.
If you purchased the cloud service, your details can be entered by clicking the 'cloud' icon on the right of the 'wifi' icon.
If you do not actively manage your IP addressing on your network - and the majority of people do not - then what happens next depends on whether you have the cloud service. Plug the RJ-11 cable into your solar controller if you haven't already (mine was a fair distance away from my office so I set it up remotely then plugged it in).
Yes, I have the cloud service!
Open up a web page using http://mysolardashboard.snektek.com and enter your login details and your dashboard should be right there and data should be appearing.
No, I don't have the cloud service!
You need to find the IP address that your router gave to the device. There are several ways to do this but the easiest is to open up the management page of your router and look for an entry that is registered with a name like ESP or Espressif. Once you have the IP address, which will look something like 192.168.x.x where x.x are numbers, go back to your browser and type that number into the browser address bar as above but replacing the 192.168.4.1 with the IP address you found. The dashboard should come up; if it does not, try a different address from the DHCP list that also has the ESP or Espressif tag.
If you can get a dashboard at http://192.168.4.1 but NOT when connected to your own wifi, it means that the device is not connecting to your network. Check the SSID and password you entered for your own network. If they are correct and you still cannot get a dashboard, consider how far from your router you are. My device is a significant distance away and I 'beam' wifi using a Ubiquiti M2 dish but it still operates well at -82dbm signal.
The blue light is simply an LED present on the controller board and has no significance beyond confirming that power is present.
The red light is a mystery to me but when I find out why it is there and what it does, I'll update here.
You don't need an SD card for the unit to run but I am assured that it is more prudent to have one in place so as to not suffer from gaps in the data over time. If you are going to use an SD card, use a decent one. If you don't use one or don't use a decent one, don't complain about gaps in data on your dashboard later. The cards Jon uses are best quality and as cheap as you will buy in Walmart so just go with it.
That should get you up and running. Post your questions below and I'll try and include the answers to them.