Getting Administrator Access to SunPower PVS6 with no Ethernet Port

Well, if you landed on this post you either have a need to cure your insomnia or you have a very specific problem. I recently decided to become a sun farmer, and went with SunPower, which is great, but they don’t offer integrations beyond their decent but limited web and mobile apps. In particular, I wanted to integrate with Home Assistant, because… well, just because.

The main solar interface from SunPower is the PVS6 (successor to the PVS5), and by connecting to an administrative interface it is possible to pull some detailed data like specific energy output and health for each panel. The good news is the PVS6 comes with two ethernet ports, one for a WAN to connect to their servers and one for a LAN that will allow access to the administrative UI, and all one needs to do is connect to said port and then… hey, WTF? My PVS6 doesn’t have either of these ethernet ports! So, yeah… evidently there is a new version of the PVS6 that does not have ethernet ports, and the primary WAN connection is via wifi.

A blurry photo of the ethernet-port-less SPV6

After digging around teh webz, it seems that the PVS6 USB ports will work with a USB to ethernet adapter, but several people reported some adapters didn’t work. Unsure if the magical solution is the adapter needs to be USB 2.0, but I found a $7 adapter on Amazon, and it just worked. I connected my laptop to the USB2/LAN port, the PVS6 assigned an address to my laptop, and browsing to provided a web administration interface. However, PVS6 is not within convenient ethernet wiring distance, so I dug around some more and found Dolf Starreveld’s page, which included an amazingly comprehensive doc, Monitoring a solar installation by tapping into a SunPower PVS5 or PVS6. This doc starts with the assumption you have a PSV* with an ethernet connection and want to get to wifi, and with my USB to ethernet dongle, that’s what I had, so all I needed to do was mount a Raspberry Pi in the PSV6 to act as a router / bridge to my network. But while reading his doc, I noticed a mention of a hotspot interface available for a limited time after PVS6 power-up, and a link to a SunPower doc on commissioning the PVS6 via wifi… this sounded promising.

Sure enough when I scanned for wifi connections, I found a SunPower SSID that matched my system. And since my system had been on for days, it didn’t appear that the 4-hour window applied, so great news! The formula for the SSID is “SunPower” immediately followed by characters five and six of the PVS6 serial number; immediately followed by the last three digits. The password follows a similar formula, characters three through six of the PVS6 serial number; immediately followed by the last four digits. Once connected, I had the exact same access I had when directly connected via ethernet.

But the cool stuff isn’t really in the web UI, you need to call it directly. For example:

Will show all devices and panels, with a ton of data on each. Dolf Starreveld’s document has a ton of details.

Since I don’t plan to run this from my laptop, I still need to bridge the network… several people have written about using a dedicated device like a Raspberry Pi, including Scott Gruby’s Monitoring a SunPower Solar System, where he uses a very lightweight Raspberry Pi Zero W, and then a simple haproxy setup. However, I’d like to avoid another device (especially with the current price for Raspberry devices – holy crap), and my Raspberry Pi 4 file server connects via ethernet, so I’ll likely use its wifi to connect to the PSV6 and run the proxy from there. After that I’ll configure Home Assistant and likely bore you with another posting.

And, no sooner do I get to the end of writing a post when I realize that the wifi network has vanished, so I either need to find a way around that problem or else I’m adding a router to my PSV6.

Are you doing anything interesting and hacky with your SunPower system? Do you have cool integrations with Home Assistant? Did you stay awake through this whole post?… please leave a comment, below!

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