Not even a Newbie ... yet!

The subject line says it all. I am having a retrofit ASHP install to replace my existing gas boiler and have been busy reading everything I can for about 6 months. I have grasped most of the theory and learned enough to give me the confidence to stand up to the installers and insist on certain changes to their original planned install - location, hardware and recommendations in general. I have recently started paying more attention to the monitoring aspects of this journey and it really interests me but I am not sure I will be able to cope with it.

My current solar is a pretty standard 4kW 16 panel array with Tranergy Inverter (to be replaced with 3.6kW) SolaX
Proposed ASHP System is Arotherm 5kW, Mixergy Slimline 180L cyl with plate heat exchanger

The new (separate) solar will be new GivEnergy AC 2.5kW inverter, JA Solar 3.24kW 8 panel array with 2 x GivEnergy 5.2kW batteries. Panels will be placed on east and west facing garage roof (pitched).

I have no experience at all with coding - apart from a little DOS about 30 years ago (I was in my mid 30s then) and enjoyed it but it was just basic config.sys files for flight sim games on a pentium pc!

I had a very quick look at python but struggled to follow the youtube video - “learn python in an hour” as it was ‘show and tell’ without explaining and being a bit of a knowledge sponge, I learn by absorbing the underpinning knowledge rather than looking and copying. I understand the importance of syntax and the like but the multitude of new terms and language on these threads has me doubting my ability to cope.

I have read some of the “getting started” posts and in particular the (huge) list of things which are recommended but not essential. My worry is that I will buy the kit and then not have a clue how to use it - particularly after fitting the second set of solar panels - once my boiler flue has gone from my garage roof. I would like to monitor both the pv system(s) and the ASHP too. I understand the theory of how the monitoring actually works, but I am less convinced (at the moment) that I could change the code if needed to make corrections or alterations.

Questions (fired from the hip) are simply:

  1. Do I HAVE to learn coding and if so, what do you suggest is the best start point and resource(s) for this learning. I had never heard of Python until I came across this site.
  2. Have I done the right thing by downloading PyCharm CE and Python Launcher (the latter doesn’t seem to do anything? - I don’t have a monitoring system to practice with/on.
  3. What depth of knowledge is the minimum (to start with) I don’t really understand the difference between python and linux etc. and it’s only today after I did a google search, I discovered what that is. And STILL no idea what Github is all about???
  4. Is there no alternative to using python etc, no ready-made app or programme to use instead?
  5. Is there a pathway or flowchart which might help us newbies? With the current increase in environmental awareness coupled with the government’s drive for more and more ‘green installs’, there will be a lot more newbies in the coming months n years who might benefit from such a pathway/flowchart.
  6. I understand the Arotherm comes with a pretty comprehensive controller - SensoComfort and also weather monitoring etc. - will this be any benefit to my desire for monitoring by itself?

I am using a Macbook Pro and am relatively competent with excel and formulas and have been running a monthly manual spreadsheet on my gas, elec, water and PV figures for about 8 years and really would like to keep on monitoring my new systems once they are installed. I have about 2 months before the systems will be up and running and would be willing and able to spend a couple of hours a day (at least) if the required route/pathways was easier to identify and follow.

So, over to you folks - do I have the makings of a Newbie?

Steve B

Welcome, Steve, to the OEM forum.

If you’re willing to learn, there are plenty of people here willing to help you.

I hadn’t until I was about 30 - and started with Fortran 4 on a mainframe 80 miles away, communicating via a 110 baud teletype and acoustic couplers on a phone line. So I had about a decade head-start on you. Since then and until I retired, it’s been a part of my job, not my job (I’m really a projects/applications electrical engineer).

There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s why you won’t find a video from me - ever. I write words and draw diagrams.

It’s unlikely you’ll need to do any changes to the code. Configuration, yes.

You’re not going to be the first there, don’t be afraid to ask. We’d much rather you ask than give the impression you understand when you don’t, and thus give up.

Most likely, no. Python is the default Raspberry Pi language, and I don’t know it, but I’ve seen enough languages to be able to follow the gist of what’s going on, and I just look up the bits I’m unsure of. The software for the nitty-gritty of monitoring is in C and C++. Linux is the operating system (c.f. Windows or MacOS) and MacOS is broadly similar to Linux and its forebear Unix - it’s more like MacOS than Windows. I’m using it now, the web browser I’m using to type this is running under Ubuntu Linux. The language is the interface between you and the instructions to the machine. The operating system is what runs the machine and allows the programs written in the language to work. So when you start a spreadsheet, it’s the OS that finds the file on the disk, loads it into memory, and provides the link between the keys you press or your mouse movements and the spreadsheet program. The program decides what to put on the screen and where, it’s the OS that does it.

Me too. I’ve got a very rough idea, but I won’t say - I might mislead you. I seem to manage quite well without it, I just inconvenience those who swear by it because I don’t play along with them and swear at it instead. All I use it for is downloading the things other people have worked on. All the stuff I’ve done for OEM has ended up there, but I actually publish it in the forum - somebody else picks it up and puts it on Github (and if they miss an update, Github becomes out of date).

Almost everything here IS ready-made, to the extent that you can buy an SD card for your Raspberry Pi from our shop with everything for your emonPi on it, or you can buy the SD card from your local Argos and flash it with the same software you downloaded from here. But all is open, both software sources and hardware designs, we don’t hide proprietary secrets. If you buy an emonPi2 (or emonPi3 when it appears), you will plug it in on your desk, connect to your Wi-Fi and it’s going to show you the mains voltage when you log in via your LAN and web browser and go to the Inputs page. Of course it won’t read anything else until you install it and connect current transformers etc. It will need configuring for what you have in your house, you won’t need to write any code but you will need to change or add names and numbers, and tell it what data you want to store and what graphs you need.

This is something we’re working on at present. There is of course “Docs”, which is already out of date - the emonTx4 and emonBase have wedded and become the emonPi2. The big problem is, everything has always been and largely remains so flexible that there’s no one pathway - almost everything that OEM kit is capable of doing can be done in more than one way.

I think you already are. :+1:


Many thanks Robert for the quick reply, I read it first thing today but was out 09-1700 pursuing my main passion which is motorcycling.

I take great comfort from your reply, not just the words of explanation but the encouragement in them too so thanks for that. I might make several faux pas but at least I will have had a go I guess.

I described my current and proposed systems - the intention is to finish up with two separate solar arrays with a battery storage system and my ASHP system so it would appear I need one system (emonPi3) to monitor the ASHP system and can I/ do I need one for the Solar too? I know the new solar system has some pretty good software built in (accessed via an app) but not sure what it can do at the moment as far as monitoring goes.

The Mixergy DHW cylinder is around 10m away from the actual pump, the buffer tank is about 3m away from the ASHP - I am not familiar with the length of the probe and CT connector wires but from the pics I have seen, they are not that long. I have read threads where temps are monitored and also the CT clips used to monitor electrics - I will read more into this but just trying to figure out what is needed as a shopping list. I also wanted to acknowledge your reply - even though it may be a little premature. Still trying to imagine the whole system(s) and as I said, will read more over the next couple of days.

The Rasberry Pi you refer to, is that part of the emonPi3 kit aready? and do I access it on my laptop screen via a URL/IP address - as I do for my printer and NAS drive etc.? That is what your antepenultimate comment suggests.

That’s enough questions for now - once again, many thanks for the response so far … I will start that further research tomorrow via this excellent resource.

Steve B

I’d suggest wait and see. We don’t quite know exactly how the emonPi3 will end up, and until you’ve had your hands on the new solar system for a while, you won’t know exactly what that will do either. From what I’ve seen of the heatpump discussions (and I’ve read it all if not appreciated the niceties), you need the best monitoring to get the best efficiency and win the arguments with the designer/supplier :roll_eyes:.

I think you should be OK extending temperature sensor and c.t. leads up to 10 m if done properly, unless there’s an horrendous source of interference along the way.

Yes it is - unless you already have one you want to use, in which case I think you’ll be able to buy it without the RPi - as I said, flexibility is a problem. “emonPi” is an energy Monitor sitting on a Raspberry Pi.

And yes to the second part: emonCMS appears as a web page, your router will give it an address on your LAN (make it permanent in the router’s settings) and it’s likely to be something like 192.168.1.xx

Are you including a HeatMeter, if not you should look at the OEM Heat Monitoring Bundle.

Heat Pump Monitoring - Shop | OpenEnergyMonitor

What you have not said, is what you are trying to achieve.

If the aim is to simply monitor the HP and the Power use, PV generation etc, then most of that should be able to be achieved without any ‘coding’.

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Hello Brian, thanks for your message.

Tbh, not sure just yet. The Vaillant ArothermPlus comes with a pretty comprehensive control in the form of the SensoComfort 720f and I have spent a little time reading about that and its use. As for ‘what am I trying to achieve?’, like most I would have thought … efficiency and reduced costs and wastage. I am also aware that in achieving this - particularly reducing cost, the expense of monitoring may well be justified.

I am still getting to grips with the several options for running the ASHP such as eco, weather compensation etc. I don’t want the monitoring to take over my life by needing incessant input but I also realise the initial set-up may take some tweaking and, if I can manage to learn enough to do that tweaking then I would be satisfied and any further time would most likely be me ‘just being inquisitive’. As I said to Robert, I am a knowledge sponge too so there is a danger of me spending more time fine tuning and at the moment with my limited knowledge, I am not sure what the value of that would be when weighed against the time involved.

At this time, I am interested in why a buffer tank is needed and despite British Gas’ reassurance that it is, I am not yet convinced - they told me a lot of stuff which I questioned and some of it has changed, particularly the system spec. but they remain adamant about the buffer/LLH. I am reading the various forums and sites and can see both sides of the argument. If I find through monitoring that the inclusion of it is causing an unnecessary reduction in efficiency, I may well try to bypass it in future - obviously, once I have satisfied myself that it is both safe and correct to do so.

Thank again for the reply.

Control isn’t the issue. Correct gathering of the performance data is. For that, nothing beats an independent Heat Meter IMHO.

Have you read this? Vaillant inbuilt monitoring vs MID meters - Hardware / Heatpump - OpenEnergyMonitor Community

I’d be looking for a Heat Geek installer. I’d trust no one else.

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I had read a lot of that already and have re-read it since your reply. I get the general gist but a lot of the language used is way over my head at this point in time. I understand your point re monitor vs control which is the whole point of my original post on here - should I, do I need to and, will I be able to?

Like a lot of subject forums, there is an absolute plethora of information here and even with the breakdown by topics, it’s still pretty daunting to someone in my position. I don’t mind admitting, I am struggling at the moment to understand a lot of what I am reading.


Ask short questions, possibly on a new thread with a good subject line :slight_smile:

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