Customizable web app improves usability and convenience for customers of a solar power innovator’s off-grid power product
Morningstar Corporation is a world-leading supplier of solar charge controllers and inverters, with over 4 million units installed in more than 100 countries. Committed to helping create a more sustainable world through renewable energy, Morningstar’s high-quality solar products are designed and built to withstand extreme environments, corrosion, lightning surges, and harsh ambient operating temperatures (common challenges to remote photovoltaic systems).
In collaboration with Mindgrub, Morningstar’s goal was to develop a user interface (UI) for their forthcoming 4kW MultiWave™ Inverter/Charger; one that would allow customers to control settings and review data using a customizable, card-based dashboard. This type of power-conversion device is typically used to supply off-grid electricity in remote areas or in places that are difficult to access. Therefore, it is crucial that the platform be as reliable and failure-free as possible, and remotely controllable in those instances where the owner does not have regular, direct access.
The complexity of this project required exceptional attention to detail, a wealth of UI expertise, and quality assurance testing at every step. Mindgrub created an intuitive app interface that operates without an internet connection, and is hosted on each physical device. Additional highlights are listed below:
- A web server communicates with the device through an integration with Modbus, an industry-standard communication protocol used for low-level firmware interfaces.
- Site footprint is small enough to fit in the smallest flash memory chip, avoiding the need to increase unit costs by adding resources.
- Domain complexity is turned to an advantage by using advanced TypeScript techniques to closely model the device schema, providing strong checks on the codebase.
- Data dictionaries and a metadata-driven architecture help ensure the structure of our work is flexible and robust.
- Near real-time data, such as energy output/use and power flow, is captured and displayed in a way that is easy for the user to access and understand.
- Customers now have more flexibility to customize their own devices.
Morningstar’s new inverter successfully merges the power and stability benefits of low-frequency inverters with the agility and efficiency of a high-frequency design in a single platform. Combined with a powerful, web-based user interface, this innovative power conversion system will launch the company into being one of the most competitive in the market today.
“The [sales and marketing team] were really blown away by the UI and capabilities. The MG team is doing a phenomenal job for us.”
~Bill Mellema, Director of Engineering at Morningstar Corporation, Inc.