Generac Generator Monitoring using a Raspberry Pi and WiFi
This project will monitor a backup generator that utilizes the Generac Controllers over a WiFi or wired connection. The following generator controllers are supported:
The project is written mostly in python and has been tested with a Raspberry Pi 3 (Pi Zero, Pi Zero W, Pi 2 and Pi 3b+ have also been validated). To use this project you would need to create a physical enclosure for your raspberry pi and possibly make a cable to connect the raspberry pi to the generator controller or purchase pre-assembled hardware. If you are comfortable doing these things and you have a backup generator that has a supported controller then this project may be of interest to you.
The software supports the following features:
This project is free to use under the posted license agreement. It was written and is supported by one person with testing and some documentation supported by users of the software. I originally created this project for my personal use however I decided to make the project available to anyone interested, however I do accept tips via paypal:
While you have the option of purchasing all of the components individually, there is an option for purchasing custom designed hardware that will simplify the hardware assembly process. More info is available here.
This software was written by one person with full time access to one generator. The primary model used for testing and development is a liquid cooled model with an evolution controller. The software was written with every intention of working on liquid and air-cooled models with the Evolution or Nexus controller however the author has not tested all scenarios. Testing has been performed with both Evolution and Nexus Controllers (air cooled and liquid cooled) with help of the community, however not all firmware versions and models have been tested.
In an effort to expand compatibility and functionality, from time to time I may use the issue tracker of this project to request input from people using the software. This input will will allow greater compatibility and new features to be added.
If you have a large generator, the placement of your Raspberry Pi could be important due to EMI. Larger generators can produce more EMI when starting. For example a 48kw diesel generator may generate enough EMI to cause CRC errors when the generator starts if the Raspberry Pi enclosure is close to the engine. If you see CRC errors, check the validity of your cable. The errors may be caused by vibration of loose molex connectors in your cable. Also, if the Raspberry Pi enclosure is moved away from the engine and closer to the controller, this will likely reduce EMI if that is causing any CRC errors. EMI may not be an issue with smaller liquid cooled generators. There are several ways to resolve EMI issues however the best solution is dependent on your particular site needs (generator, how much space you need for your Pi, how much space you have available, etc). The project wiki has information regarding a typical enclosure for the Raspberry Pi, however the example enclosure is not RF shielded.
This application was written to be agnostic of the underlying network media (i.e. WiFi, Ethernet, etc). Testing and development was performed with WiFi with access points connected to an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) so connectivity is not lost when power is transferred from utility to the generator.
Since there are several version of the raspberry Pi out and also several options regarding the operating system, I will leave this section somewhat minimal. I used a Raspberry Pi 3 with Raspbian Lite. There are many resources on the web for setting up a Raspberry Pi so I will only include links for setting up the serial port. The Linux device name of the serial port changed or at least the symbolic link changed starting with the Raspberry Pi 3 from /dev/ttyAMA0 to /dev/serial0 so if you are using the on board serial port you will want to validate the device name and make sure genmon.conf reflects the serial device name of your Raspberry Pi and Linux distribution. The following two links are helpful in setting up the serial port on the Raspberry Pi:
One important step is to validate your serial port is working properly. You can validate the serial port is working properly by using the program serialtest.py in this repository. To validate your serial port connect the RS-232 transmit to RS-232 receive and follow the instructions in the software section on serialtest.py. Also, you can validate your cable by connecting your cable to your serial port and connecting transmit to receive at the far end of the cable so you will be looping back through your cable, then repeat the serialtest.py test.