overall, the month of february hasn't been all that productive solarwise. the only time we reached 30kWh+ was 10 days ago. more than 50% of the month we made less than half the peak production value. the rest of the week looks to be okay solar-wise, with more sunny days than cloudy days, of course the weather can change at any time.
we had a scare in the late morning when i noticed that suddenly solar production dropped to zero. once again my fear that somehow squirrels had chewed through the cable came back. but i also noticed that the house webcam wasn't working either. could there be a power outage in belmont? or maybe the internet went down, since both solar monitoring and webcam requires internet access. on the cafe webcam i saw my father in a rush, quickly putting on his jacket and heading outside. i called them. seems that my father saw the abrupt stop in production as well, and was racing home to check what was going on. oh, he also left the space heater running. suddenly all the pieces fit together to form a terrifying possibility: that the space heater caught on fire and half the house was burning down which meant no webcam and no solar production. i waited anxiously until a few minutes later my father called to say everything was fine. by that point production went back up again, so i knew before hand that the solar panels were already working. he had the space heater on a manual timer but he forgot to turn the actual space heater on so it never went out. as for the webcam, it just needed to be unplugged to reset it, the ip number was still the same.
i was watching the meter the rest of the morning, curious to see if production can reach 20kWh+ before noontime. that milestone would mean energy production would most likely reach 30kWh+ by the end of the day. i thought today was going to be a mostly clear day but there were some wispy high clouds in the sky, which only slightly hinder production. at noontime we were just 2 kWh shy of 20kWh, but i was still hopeful we'd be able to hit 30kWh+.
i had a plate of kielbasa/fried egg/sauerkraut for lunch, streaming some olympics coverage via roku. after squeezing another container of fresh orange juice, i got dressed and biked down to the cafe where i delivered the OJ before heading to belmont. the smart outlets arrived this morning, my father brought them back the house earlier, i went there to set it up.
setting up the yidian bluetooth1 smart plugs was fairly easy. i first downloaded the app2 (android/apple) then set up an account, which is essentially just either a phone number or e-mail then a password, no verification needed. next i pressed the on/off button on the plug for a few seconds until the light on the plug started blinking. using the app, i picked from the list of devices the one i wanted to sync. i select plug, it asked me if the light was blinking (yes), then it asked me to enter the wifi password, and took a few seconds to configure itself to the local network and get online. after that the plug was working, and i could control it remotely with the app. the plugs have a blue light when they're online and turn magenta when they're switched on.
i called my father to relay him the information (install the app and username/password). he tried switching on/off the plugs and it worked perfectly., i was amazed that it was instantaneously, zero delays. i'd put one of the plugs on the space heater to see how it works. the plugs are rated to 1800W while the space heater operates on 900W. the plug stayed cool, space heater turned on just fine, no problems. my father turned it off remotely, no issues either. we also looked at some of the features. i'm happy to say that there is indeed energy monitoring. i wasn't sure since this seems to be the only china-brand smart plug that has it. it shows daily usage (kWh), current, power, and voltage. there's also a history, but there is no hourly data, just daily. i'm also happy to find out that there is also amazon and google support (though i can't test it since i don't own a smart speaker). there's no explicit IFTTT support through the app, but i found out later that the smart life app has a partnership with IFTTT so i think it is possible to use these plugs with that. you can also create schedules (like a timer) or run the plug in a countdown timer mode.
i've been using remote control outlet switches since october 2014 (purchased again november 2014 and october 2015). it's one of the best purchases i've ever made, the amount of time i save not having to go around the house turning on/off the lights is a small blessing. back then i was dreaming about the possibility of wifi plugs that can be controlled remotely through the internet. 3-4 years ago there were only a few players on the market, but now there's an influx of cheap chinese-brand smart plugs which can be had for around $10 a piece. i'm tempted to convert all my local remote plugs to wifi plugs, but there's something to be said about having a real remote versus a phone screen. besides, i can currently trigger my plugs remotely via my raspberry pi 3 and the 433Mhz transceiver setup. it's not as slick and doesn't have a GUI interface (though i can built one; it's currently all command lines) but it works just the same.
my sister came home briefly to cut her hair before leaving with her dog. even though the space heater had been on, it didn't seem to do too much in terms of heating up the house, was it was still 61°F, just barely warmer than my place. the sunroom was warmer from all that indirect solar heating, and i opened the door for a few hours to allow the hot air to circulate through the rest of the house.
by day's end we managed to produce 34.02 kWh. finally another 30kWh+ day! in fact, it was the 2nd most productive day we've ever had, which makes sense, as daylight hours increase and sun elevation gets higher. there was a large dip in the late morning (during that brief scare); if it wasn't for that, today would've been the most productive day so far.
when my parents returned home we had classic beef noodle soup for dinner. i biked home afterwards, temperature around 25°F.
1 the company is called "yidian bluetooth" which is kind of confusing because it makes the smart plugs sound like they're bluetooth devices and not wifi (they may in fact have bluetooth inside but the company name is confusing).
2 searching for "smart life" in the google play store brings up 5 apps with the same name (a search for "smartlife" [no space] bring up nearly 3 dozen). the instruction doesn't tell you which one is the right one (although there are a few screenshots) but i ended up installing the most popular app (even though the developer was tuya, not yidian bluetooth). i have a suspicion that some of those "smart life" clone apps would work just as well, and many different china-brand smart devices all share the same app.