WattPlot was started by Andrew Welch of Intallact in 2006. He created the tools to monitor his own OutBack
renewable energy system, since the only existing product was unsophisticated and not suited to his needs.
An installer saw the WattPlot software and immediately wanted to offer it to his clients. The rest is history.
Today, many hundreds of sites around the world have installed the WattPlot suite of monitoring tools, and we have
a presence on every continent (including Antarctica)! WattPlot has a global reputation for sophisticated and
friendly interfaces, superb documentation, and exceptional technical support. Other fly-by-night solutions have
come and gone. WattPlot remains committed to our growing client base, and users have relied on our software for
over 15 years.
WattPlot still offers the most comprehensive renewable energy system monitoring tools available anywhere.
WattPlot was originally just a single program, developed in Visual Basic 6, which offered snapshot values and our
signature pen-plots for monitoring FX inverters and MX-60 charge controllers from
OutBack Power Systems, using the serial data stream from an original MATE.
Users appreciated its rich interface, and the ability to drill down to each second of detail.
In the early days, OutBack was very supportive of WattPlot (and a few other monitoring software developers), since
they offered a much-needed service that complemented OutBack's hardware. We offered design advice on OutBack data
stream design, and had a sub-forum on the popular OutBack User Forum where many OutBack clients shared ideas, had
questions answered, and exchanged information.
As a result, WattPlot kept pace with new OutBack hardware as it was introduced, so that software monitoring support
was never far behind the new devices. Of course, there were also advances in PC technology and communications
tools. The challenge of supporting the wide variety of old and new OutBack devices, PC operating systems, and
diverse system configurations was daunting; but WattPlot supported it all, from Windows NT to Windows 10 (and even
virtual environments on Macs, etc.).
Gradually, new features were added - often based on user requests and suggestions. These include such things
as user-definable device reporting sets, spreadsheet reports, web data file support, multiple MATE support, a TCP
Server feature, and another signature function: Automatic Actions, which allowed WattPlot to respond to system
conditions with MATE Commands, email notifications, etc. Support was added for the FLEXnet DC monitor, the
FLEXmax charge controllers, the MATE3, and the new Radian hybrid inverters.
The most significant advance came with the introduction of WattPlot version 5 in 2013, which was actually a suite
of tools written in VB.Net. WattPlot 5 represented a significant advance in the software development, which had been
redesigned from the ground up. Users could now choose from WattPlot Monitor (the next generation of the original
program), VisualMATE (a simplified animated system view), SumMATE (a non-live analysis tool for data log files), and
NetMATE (an applet providing a smart TCP Server). Other tools such as WattPlot CheckMATE (for monitoring many
MATEs in industrial settings) and WattPlot ShowMATE (for public display monitoring), had limited markets and were
never widely distributed. The WattPlot 5 tools quickly became the monitoring solution of choice for OutBack
equipment. (Even OutBack staff were using the tools!)
Unfortunately, over time, the OutBack culture changed. The company was bought out, staff came and left, and
important changes to interfaces and data formats were no longer shared. OutBack technical documentation (which
was frankly never a strength) became even more inadequate, inaccurate, and out-of-date. Our attempts to point
out serious implementation errors went unanswered. Our emails were ignored or we were told that we would have
to live with errors because they were not going to be corrected. When we let other users know of the effect
all of this was having on our software integrity and OutBack's own clients, our user sub-forum was deleted
overnight without warning, as were the sub-forums and posts of all the other frustrated developers.
Communications became very strained indeed. OutBack began relying on their own new monitoring solution
(OpticsRE) and claimed that WattPlot was now a competitor.
In 2016, WattPlot once again embarked on a new generation of renewable energy system monitoring software.
As with version 5, the core software classes were redesigned from scratch, but this time the objectives had
changed. WattPlot 6 originally focussed exclusively on Modbus/TCP communications and the applications are
no longer limited to OutBack equipment. Field tests for WattPlot ACKcess,
the new version 6 tool, went very well. The program was particularly powerful with the OutBack AXS Port device,
and even successfully connected to systems combining OutBack inverters and MidNite Solar Classic charge controllers!
Meanwhile, given the extremely low price of the application license fees and unlimited free support, the
WattPlot software support and development gradually stopped paying for itself. In 2018, other priorities
intervened in the life of Andrew Welch, the sole developer, and so a decision was made to drop all license fees,
leave the software out there for anyone to use, and suspend operations.