WattPlot™

Frequently Asked Questions about WattPlot™!

Updated 08 March 2017
bullet General Information
bullet System Requirements
bullet OutBack MATE and MATE3 Information
bullet Features and Capabilities
What can it do
How does it work
What can it show me
bullet Remote Monitoring
bullet Ordering and Licensing
bullet Dealer/Installer Questions
bullet Industrial/Commercial Questions
bullet Troubleshooting Problems:
Serial Data Communication Issues
Data Value Issues
Error Messages
General/Display Issues
Other Issues

Have a question that is not answered here?  Please contact us directly!

General Information
What is WattPlot™ Monitor?
What is WattPlot™ PRO?
What is WattPlot™ VisualMATE™?
What is WattPlot™ NetMATE™?
What is WattPlot™ MultiMATE™?
What is WattPlot™ CheckMATE™?
Why should I choose WattPlot™?
Which WattPlot™ solution is right for me?
I'm a homeowner with an OutBack system.  What can WattPlot do for me?
I'm an OutBack dealer or installer.  What can WattPlot do for me?
I use OutBack equipment in my industry.  What can WattPlot do for me?
I'm a researcher or teacher.  What can WattPlot do for me?
Does it work with all inverters from Outback Power Systems?  What about other manufacturers, like Xantrex?
How do I get technical support for WattPlot?
Which email address should I use to contact you?
Some technical parts of WattPlot don't seem state-of-the-art compared to newer Windows interfaces.  Why not?
System Requirements
Do I need an OutBack MATE?
What are the computer system requirements?
What flavors of the Windows Operating System are supported?  What about Windows 10, or Linux?
Can you run WattPlot on a Mac computer?
My system has no serial COM ports.  Can I use a USB port for my original MATE?
I don't have MS Excel.  Do I need it to view the monthly spreadsheets?
How much disk space do WattPlot log files use?
Does my computer have to be on the whole time?
Are there low wattage alternatives to a computer always on?
OutBack MATE and MATE3 Information
Can I control my system remotely?
Is it possible to change MATE/MATE3 settings remotely?
Can I access the historical data stored in my OutBack device (e.g. 128-day data)?
How close does the computer have to be to the MATE?  How close does the MATE have to be to the OutBack equipment?
What does the raw MATE data (from the Remote program or captured by WattPlot) mean?
Features and Capabilities
What can it do
Can I control my system from WattPlot?
Can I program my system settings from WattPlot?
How does WattPlot compare to WinVerter™-Monitor OB?
What is the difference between WattPlot and WattPlot PRO?
Can I have the VisualMATE display showing at the same time as WattPlot?
Can I use any other monitoring software at the same time as WattPlot?
Can multiple users monitor the same OutBack System?
Can I monitor mulitple MATEs for one OutBack system?
Does it support the FLEXnet DC System Monitor and the FLEXmax 60/80 Charge Controllers?
Does it support the OutBack AXS Port for ModBus connections?
Does it work with other equipment like weather stations or battery meters?
Does WattPlot support European regional settings, like a comma as decimal point?
Is WattPlot compatible with the new MATE3?
How does it work
How do I monitor a MATE3 with the original WattPlot Monitor program?
Why is WattPlot asking for my email password?
Do I need to set up files, or does the program do it automatically?
When I attach it to the MATE, does it just automatically begin taking in & processing data?
If I shut off or disconnect my PC, does the previous data get saved?
When I re-connect it, does it just take off where things ended with a gap in between?
What does it show me
Are the vertical plot scales user-adjustable?
Can I log the volts and amps coming from each array in my solar panel setup?
Can WattPlot show me elapsed charging times?
Can I view the raw data that corresponds to my performance plots?
In the Snaphot bars, why do you show real-time volts and amps for the FX, but not watts?
What does WattPlot's truncation compensation do?
Can WattPlot access the historical data stored in my OutBack device (e.g. 128-day data)?
Can I run the WattPlot Monitor and WattPlot VisualMATE at the same time?
Remote Monitoring
Can I monitor my MATE remotely?
Can I monitor my system over the internet?
How can I monitor my system by TCP/IP, without a remote computer?
How does the WattPlot Remote program work?
Can WattPlot transmit alerts by phone or email?
Can WattPlot control my MATE remotely?
How does the WattPlot TCP/IP Server work?
Ordering and Licensing
How much does WattPlot cost?
How do I order a copy?
How can I try out the program?
Do I need an internet connection to get the software?
How does the product evaluation work?  Can I try it out for a longer trial period?
Can I run WattPlot on more than one computer?
What if my hardware changes or I need to move to a new computer?
I just got a new MATE with a new serial number.  Will WattPlot still work?
How many systems can I monitor with one standard license?
I'm a dealer or installer.  What do you have for me?
Dealer/Installer Questions
How much does WattPlot cost?
Can I run WattPlot on more than one computer?
Can I connect into my client's system to see their WattPlot screen?
How many client systems can I monitor with one standard license?
Are dealer or installer discounts available?
I'm a dealer.  How do I get my logo and company name on your software?
Industrial/Commercial Questions
How many systems can I monitor with one standard license?
Do you have a product that allows me to monitor a large number of sites?
Troubleshooting Problems
How do I send you a screen capture?
How do I send you my configuration files?
How do I send you a sample of my data log files?

Serial Data Communication Issues
How can I check that the computer is correctly connected to the MATE?
WattPlot does not appear to be seeing any data from the MATE.
Why do I get communication time-out messages?  I'm often having to restart my data reception.
Where is the 9-pin serial connector on a MATE2?
Data Value Issues
WattPlot is reporting some values that do not agree with values on my MATE.
WattPlot is reporting unexpected zero values and/or my summary wattages seem low or inconsistent.
VisualMATE is showing unexpected values for Amps from Battery into Inverter.
How does WattPlot handle Daylight Saving Time or MATEs in different time zones?
WattPlot's window showing my system settings does not match the settings on my MATE.
PV amps display is not being updated and/or my MX wattage is inconsistent with actual performance.
I don't understand what truncation-compensated values mean.  Please explain.
I don't understand what the temperature-compensated voltages mean.  Please explain.
Error Messages
Windows Directory Naming Error: 'C:\' is not a valid drive for this directory!
I'm getting an error message but I don't know what it means.
General/Display Issues
WattPlot Monitor (version 5) does not always show system data when I hover over plot columns that have data.
My program has a problem.  How do I know if I have the latest release, or if this problem was fixed?
How do I know which color line on my pen-plots correspond to which data set?  Is there any legend for the lines?
The Date field in my monthly power summary is always filled with "######" when I open it in Excel.  Why?
Other Issues
I am adding a new OutBack device to my system.  How will this affect WattPlot?

More FAQs being added all the time!  Tell us about your issue.

General Information


What is WattPlot™ Monitor?

WattPlot Monitor is the most user-friendly software available for monitoring performance data from OutBack renewable energy systems.  With WattPlot's comprehensive software tools, and an OutBack MATE, MATE3, or AXS Port, you can see at a glance precisely what your system is doing and what it has done, every day, down to the second!


What is WattPlot™ PRO?

WattPlot PRO is an enhanced version of the standard WattPlot product.  Additional functions include:

bullet Automatic Actions - The ability for WattPlot to respond to a wide range of user-programmable, multi-condition triggers with email, MATE commands, alarms, Windows commands, etc.
bullet Track MATE settings - WattPlot PRO can store a copy of your MATE settings in a friendly screen with instant descriptions and help for each one.
bullet Email Support - Email your system data as plots or logs to any email address with a few mouse clicks.
bullet Animated Power Flow Viewer - The PRO version has an embedded copy of WattPlot's popular VisualMATE app, giving you a simple graphical view of your entire system and the real-time flow of power between components.
bullet System Maintenance Log - Track equalizations, bulk charges, battery maintenance (including detailed cell voltages and specific gravity) all in one on-line log.  View the history of specific batteries at a glance.

See a full table of comparative features.  You can easily upgrade from the standard version to WattPlot PRO.


What is WattPlot™ MultiMATE™?

WattPlot MultiMATE was a specially licensed version of the WattPlot PRO product, which allowed you to monitor an OutBack system with multiple MATEs, all on one screen.  This can now be done with a WattPlot Monitor PRO activation (version 5).

The new WattPlot Monitor PRO also allows devices from different MATEs to be combined into one reporting set, and has special enhancements for MATE commands to be directed to specific MATEs or all MATES, etc.

While MultiMATE was designed to be used with a single complex OutBack system, many users have successfully used the product to monitor multiple OutBack systems on one screen, using one MultiMATE license, including systems with different battery bank nominal voltages and different communication types.  While there is no specific limit to the number of MATEs that can be monitored in this way, the level of detail and screen space make it an impractical solution for a large number of MATEs.  For larger numbers of MATEs, the WattPlot CheckMATE product is recommended.


What is WattPlot™ CheckMATE™?

WattPlot CheckMATE is designed to monitor a large number of OutBack installations.  It has a very sophisticated user interface, allowing you to instantly see the status of up to 100 installations, showing you their operational status, power production, current trends, and any alerts or notifications.

The CheckMATE product logs less detail about each system than the standard WattPlot monitor program, and is designed for industry clients who need to monitor and confirm that a large number of systems are operational and in good health.  For each system (daily) WattPlot CheckMATE stores: Battery Min and Max, Total Power IN and OUT, and Monitoring Hours.  It also stores all alerts and log entries.  The output is in CSV and TXT files, much like the current WattPlot Monthly Summaries and event logs.  More information.


Why should I choose WattPlot™?

The WattPlot software suite has been refined for over a decade.  Sure, other products have come and gone in that time.  (A few years ago, another provider posted a comparison page between their products and WattPlot.  It was inaccurate, but useful to us, back when it was first posted.  We treated it like we treat all user feedback, and greatly enhanced our tools!  The comparison page is now ridiculously out of date, and the competitor has faded away, but alas the page misleadingly lives on.)  That's not what you'll find here.

Most importantly, don't take our word for why WattPlot is your best choice - we're just as biased as our now-defunct competition.  Instead, read what the users have to say about our software.  Better yet, see it all for yourself!  Browse our User Guides online, or download any tool for a free trial!


Which WattPlot™ solution is right for me?

See the various products compared here.


I'm a homeowner with an OutBack system.  What can WattPlot do for me?

The OutBack inverters and charge controllers that control your renewable energy system are very sophisticated pieces of technology.  There are many settings possible that alter the behavior and performance of these devices and, consequently, your entire system.  Each installation and situation is different for every installed system.  The circumstances of your solar and/or wind exposure, combined with the individual characteristics of your battery bank(s), utility grid (if connected), generators (if used), all contribute to a renewable energy system that is unlike any other.  Unique systems call for unique settings to get the most out of your investment.  The difficulty resides in how to determine what settings are right for your system.

The WattPlot software was created to help overcome those difficulties.  Specifically, it gives you the ability to:

bullet Accurately view the performance and behavior of any component or group of components, over a period of time.
bullet Monitor your system in real time.
bullet Easily track overall system power usage and production.
bullet Diagnose system problems, or email detailed logs to others for technical support.  (WattPlot may be run unlicensed in the free Viewer mode by anyone.)
bullet Log MATE settings and maintenance tasks.
bullet Monitor your system from a computer connected to your Outback MATE, or to the internet by TCP/IP, or through a network or internet connection to a remote computer connected to the MATE.

I'm a researcher or teacher.  What can WattPlot do for me?

WattPlot is the software of choice for colleges and universities around the world.  No other product gives the detail and flexibility of output for performing detailed analysis of how well an OutBack renewable energy system is performing.  WattPlot's state-of-the-art graphics make it easy for students to follow exactly how the system behaves, and how MATE settings work.  The per-second data capture, available as raw MATE output, plots, spreadsheets, or straight text, means that researchers get the detail that they need in whatever format works for them.


Does it work with all inverters from Outback Power Systems?  What about other manufacturers, like Xantrex?

Yes, all present OutBack inverters are supported, including North American, European, Caribbean, mobile, Radian, 12V, 24V, 32V, 36V, 48V, and 3-phase systems.

Inverters from other manufacturers, such as Xantrex, are not yet supported.


How do I get technical support for WattPlot?

We do NOT offer phone support for this product, since we do not maintain an office for the WattPlot aspect of our business.  If you need technical assistance, begin with the questions on this page (yes, they are frequently asked!).  Next, check the User's Guide.  Finally, you can view other options on our Support Page.


Which email address should I use to contact you?

That depends on what you need:

General enquiries:    WattPlot_info@
License activations:   activation@
Technical support:    techsupport@


Some technical parts of WattPlot don't seem state-of-the-art compared to newer Windows interfaces.  Why not?

While WattPlot incorporates some extremely sophisticated programming, it is intentionally designed to be supported by older operating systems.  When assigning a computer to monitor a MATE 24/7, most of our users do not select their best systems to do this.  More often it is some near-obsolete box such as an old Windows XP system.  In order to support all of these platforms, we use proven lower-common denominator software tools.  Besides, when it comes to power and performance, we believe you want to use them for data collection, not cartoon paperclips!



System Requirements

Do I need an OutBack MATE?

You need an OutBack communication device.  This could be a MATE, MATE3 or AXS Port device.  The WattPlot tools get all of their information via a serial port connection to an OutBack MATE (or MATE2) device, or a network or USB connection to an OutBack MATE3, or an ethernet link to an AXS Port device.  Direct connections to devices like an MX-60 are not supported by OutBack for data collection.


What are the computer system requirements?

WattPlot was written for the Windows operating system, and runs under a number of Windows environments.  The communication requirements depend on what type of OutBack communication device you have:

MATE/MATE2:  The original MATE devices connect via an old serial port.  If your computer has a serial port (or USB port and adapter, or you have a serial to TCP/IP converter), then WattPlot should run.  The appropriate serial cable (with pins 2, 3, 4, 5, and 7 connected through) is also required to connect the computer to the MATE.

MATE3:  The MATE3 has three connection types: UDP/IP is the default, and requires a CAT5 network cable running from the MATE3 to a local router.  A more powerful Modbus/TCP connection can be run through the same cable.  There is also an optional USB card that can be installed in the MATE3, allowing it to be connected directly to a PC USB port.

AXS Port:  Acessed via any TCP/IP network connection.


What flavors of the Windows Operating System are supported?  What about Windows 10 or Linux?

WattPlot has been successfully installed and run on Windows XP, Windows 7, Windows Vista, Windows 8, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10.  (The Windows NT version has been phased out.)

While we do not run any 64-bit machines in-house, a number of WattPlot clients have run the software on 64-bit platforms with no problems.

Note that the more recent releases of WattPlot (version 5) have no problems running under Windows 7 or 8.  If you encounter any issues with an older release (version 4), you might want to try some specific settings to accommodate the added security issues with these systems.

There have been reports from the field of WattPlot not starting seamlessly under Windows 8.1 and Windows 10.  This is because Windows 8.1/10 does not automatically support the older .NET 2.0 Framework that WattPlot 5 was compiled with.  (Some sites get a message that "An app on your PC needs the following Windows feature: .Net Framework 3.5 (includes .Net 2.0 and 3.0)".)  This should be addressed in 2017 when we upgrade the Framework that WattPlot is released under.  (We deliberately hold back environments so that very old client machines remain supported for as long as possible.)  Meanwhile, this site might help getting your WattPlot 5 up and running again under Windows 8.1 or 10.

The WattPlot software does run on Linux platforms that emulate a Windows environment, however, the licensing software for the WattPlot monitor program unfortunately does not.  That means we are unable to activate monitoring from a Linux platform at this time.


Can you run WattPlot on a Mac computer?

Yes, you can.  WattPlot does not have a Mac O/S version, however, we do have clients who are running it on Mac computers, using the VMware Fusion Windows emulation product.  This allows your Mac to run Windows as a Mac application, without losing your other Mac capabilities.


My system has no serial COM ports.  Can I use a USB port for my original MATE?

You can purchase USB-to-Serial conversion hardware and drivers to allow a USB port to work like a serial port.  Note that we have heard two reports of the Belklin FU5109 adapter working with other accessories, but not working with the MATE.  Another report said that a USB-Serial adapter made by Planex (model URS-03) and the AirLink101 model # AC-USBS both worked fine with the MATE.  Hint: One problem may be the DTR protocol, pin usage, and how units are powered.  For example, we were playing with a serial-to-IP device and discovered that we had to jumper (connect) pins 5 and 7 together in order to get the MATE to talk to it.

WattPlot can also monitor TCP/IP ports directly, eliminating the need for a serial or USB port if you can convert the MATE signal to TCP/IP.  Read in detail about how we did that here.)  Another solution is to simply purchase a serial port card for your computer (easiest to do if it is a desktop PC.

Prolific seems to be a good brand name - a number of clients successfully use the Prolific serial/USB driver.  Here are five more USB-to-serial product reports from users:

"I am using a IO Gear GUC232A USB to serial converter.  I like this one because it has a status light and seems to work with all my other programs.  It works with the WattPlot Monitor program."

"I used the IO Gear GUC232A USB to serial converter too, but I had some problems under Windows XP.  I got it working by using the ATEN 2K drivers (not the XP drivers) and keeping everything on COM3."

Another user reported success with the TRENDnet TU-S9 USB/Serial product from on his Windows XP, but the same product generated an 8020 Error under Windows Vista.  I will post an update if the problem is ever resolved.  (Subsequent to this, a different user reported that a TRENDnet TU-S9 did not work for them under Windows XP.nbsp; I don't think this is a recommended product.)

"I had really good luck with the USB/serial interface from Staples.  It puts out 0.5 volts more than the opto-isolated interface on the MATE needs as a minimum.  I tried a Trendnet USB/serial interface and it produces far too little voltage.  Unfortunately this is one of the problems with RS232--even the newer EIA specification doesn't tighten the logic levels up enough (and the follow on EIA specs. actually lower the voltages causing the kind of grief a lot of us using these interfaces are experiencing.)"

"I had purchased an RS232 9 pin to USB cable from my local computer store - $9.00.  The only identifier I can see on the package is “HL USB-RS232”.  When I loaded the driver that came with it, it shows as a Prolific driver.  Well, it looked like WattPlot was running properly, but no data from the MATE.  Having read your information on Vista and cable issues, I went and bought a different adapter.  This one is a Star Tech, USB to RS-232 Serial DB9 Adapter, M/N: ICUSB232.  Plugged it in (I think it used the Prolific driver that was already loaded) and voila – data from the mate.  I’m afraid to change to the driver that came with it in case I jinx the whole thing.  Oh and of course the new adapter is no where near $9 – it was $46.00.  I have just tried a Nexxtech cable, part #: 2608042 and it seems to be working properly.  Still using the Prolific driver, but whatever works."

I don't have MS Excel.  Do I need it to view the monthly spreadsheets?

No, it has never ever been the case that you needed MS Excel to view WattPlot's monthly power summaries.  The files are written in the industry standard Comma-Separated Value (CSV) format that is instantly readable by every major spreadsheet and database program out there, including MS Excel.  Early releases of WattPlot used to automatically bring the spreadsheet into Excel right from the monitor program, if Excel was installed on the PC.  Our users requested and appreciated this default convenience.  Now WattPlot first presents the monthly summaries in a powerful bar and line graph format, allowing you to drill-down to daily detail right from the graph.  If you want to go further and see the table of data for the month, WattPlot automatically opens your favourite CSV spreadsheet program and loads the data with a single mouse click.


How much disk space do WattPlot log files use?

We put a lot of effort into compressing the information that WattPlot stores.  Both the ‘text’ logs and the data logs are very small for the amount of data that they store.  There are two things that will ultimately determine their size: (1) You have a lot of choice about what specific data you choose to log or ignore; and (2) since the logs focus on recording changes rather than regular states, systems that experience more fluctuations will log more data.

Most plot logs will be around 80-100 KB per device (FX, MX, or FM) for a full day of per second data sampling.  FLEXnet DC monitors collect more data (300-400 KB).  General logs with all options turned on might be about 3-5 KB per day.  The Alert logs should be much smaller!


Does my computer have to be on the whole time?

Unfortunately, yes, your computer has to be on with WattPlot running in order to collect data from a MATE or MATE2.  The MATE has no data storage capability, so if WattPlot is not there picking up the information, it is gone.  There are a few very rare exceptions to this with an MX, which will keep accruing things like Daily kWh.  Daily kWh data from the MX is passed on by the MATE and displayed/logged by WattPlot.

The MATE3 has built-in data logging (on to an SD memory card).  The data captured is detailed and extensive, but can be quickly turned into real information by WattPlot™ SumMATE.

Are there low wattage alternatives to a computer always on?

As previously noted, WattPlot must be running in order to collect MATE data.  One way of using less power is to setup WattPlot to write log data to a USB drive instead of your system's hard drive.  Because such drives have no moving parts, they consume less power.  You can also turn off your PC display monitor - that will help.

There may be other low wattage alternatives in the future, such as WattPlot for handheld computers, but such options are not yet available.

You can also have a low wattage device that can send MATE signals over a network connection to a remote computer, without requiring a computer on-site.  Read about how to do that.

If you don't need to see and/or react to the data in real-time, the MATE3 has a built-in data logger that stores all system data (up to every second) on an SD memory card.  You can then use an excellent tool like WattPlot SumMATE to turn easily turn that raw data into powerful information.


OutBack MATE and MATE3 Information


Can I control my system remotely?

MATE/MATE2:  OutBack allows a limited number of commands to be sent to the MATE (for the Master inverter) from an external source (Inverter On/Off, Search, AC Use/Drop, Aux On/Off).

MATE3:  The MATE3 accepts a more extensive list of remote commands if you are communicating via the optional USB Card (which is not compatible with Windows 10 or higher).  However, a much more extensive command set comes from simply connecting to the MATE3 by Modbus/TCP.  At the present time, those commands include all of the above, plus the ability to direct Aux On/Off commands to specific ports, and to query and change various settings: (HBX state, sell enabled/disabled, bulk charge on/off, sell voltage, charger AC limit, AC input limits, absorb voltage/time, and float voltage/time).  More setting control will be added in the future.

WattPlot supports all of the above commands, where applicable, including from TCP/IP clients.  Commands can either be sent manually, or as part of WattPlot PRO's Automatic Action responses.


Is it possible to change MATE/MATE3 settings remotely?

MATE/MATE2:  Unfortunately, OutBack does not support the programming of an original MATE from any external source.  Nor can you download your MATE settings automatically to an external device.

MATE3/AXS Port:  The MATE3 and AXS Port do support extensive setting changes.  (See here for details.)


Can I access the historical data stored in my OutBack device (e.g. 128-day data)?

MATE/MATE2:  No, unfortunately this information is only accessible if the MATE was being actively monitored for that time period.  OutBack does not make this information accessible by external software.  The FLEXnet DC monitor does have a few cumulative values and the MX-60 has a Daily kWH tally that are available to WattPlot, and it does track this data, however, unless you accumulate the data yourself (or pay a monitoring system to do it) the daily history logs going back 128 days are only accessible through the device or the MATE.

MATE3/AXS Port:  The MATE3 and AXS Port can log many days of data on to a removable SD Memory card.  Unfortunately, that data is not accessible unless you remove the card and place it in an SD slot on your PC.  The good news is that the WattPlot™ SumMATE tool can turn that data into rich, user-friendly information at the click of a mouse.


How close does the computer have to be to the MATE?  How close does the MATE have to be to the OutBack equipment?

In a local installation, the MATE usually connected to the computer by a serial data cable.  Serial cable lengths in excess of 25 feet (8 meters) are not usually recommended, as they can lead to increased communication errors.  (See Remote Monitoring section for some ways around this limitation.)

The connection between the MATE and the OutBack equipment is by CAT5 network cable (using a non-standard protocol), and has been successfully tested at 1000 feet (300 meters).  Note that cables should not be run in conduit with AC wiring.  Such environments can generate communication errors.



What does the raw MATE data (captured by WattPlot in .OBM files) mean?

MATE/MATE2:  OutBack supplies a full technical specifications document which describes exactly what raw data from an original MATE means.

MATE3:  The MATE3 USB Card Owner's Manual describes the MATE3 data stream, however, it has many significant errors (especially for the Radian devices) and has to be updated.


Features and Capabilities


Can I control my system from WattPlot?

Yes.  Depending on the device that you are communicating through, WattPlot supports the full complement of MATE/MATE3 commands, subject to the device limitations.


Can I program my system settings from WattPlot?

MATE/MATE2:  The MATE does not support remote setting changes.  The old WattPlot 4 PRO can however maintain a copy of your system settings in its own custom dialog box, setup to emulate the MATE's menu structure with easy-to-use tabs.  WattPlot knows the system defaults, increments, minimums, and maximums, and provides extensive help for each setting, surpassing OutBack's own documentation in some cases.  MATE settings can also be exported from this window to a text file, or automatically emailed.

MATE3:  The MATE3 USB card connectivity does support some setting change commands, but it is a limited list and the card is not compatible with Windows 10 or higher.  We recommend the Modbus/TCP protocol of the MATE3, which has access to programming any MATE3 setting.  We are adding more functionality to that interface all the time.  (See here for details.)


How does WattPlot compare to WinVerter™-Monitor OB [1]?

Winverter™-Monitor OB is very graphical, with one window per device, showing pictures of components with arrows and LCD-like numbers to show what power is flowing where.  The product is simple and straightforward, making it easy to use and see what is happening with your system in real-time.  Data logging is minimal (calculated key values by hour), although values-per-minute are available in the PRO version.  This basic Windows-based product is established, stable, and is priced by what kind of devices you wish to monitor.  We think that Winverter is best suited to non-technical residential customers with few devices who want to see what their system is doing right now, want an idea of what their overall power production and usage looks like, and don't mind the slightly higher cost.      $180 for all three components ($360 for PRO), up to $180/$360

Wattplot™ uses a single multi-document-interface to show both real-time snap-shots and per-second pen-plots of system values for each device.  The product is feature-rich and thus there are many optional user-customizable settings available to take full advantage of the capabilities.  Its key strength is in plotting and logging every one of the system performance values, showing exactly what the system has done (every second) for any space of time.  This extremely user-friendly, Windows-based, package-priced product is regularly being enhanced (often in response to user requests) so new versions can be a frequent occurrence.  We think that WattPlot is well-suited to sophisticated users and dealers who need to precisely track complex system behaviour or perform detailed analysis and diagnostics for one or more client systems.      $120 all-inclusive ($180 for PRO)

OutBack's own support department staff have used WattPlot to monitor in-house systems and to resolve firmware issues.  Customers have even had their system problems diagnosed by emailing WattPlot logs to the support staff who then can then review precise per-second system behaviors.


Can I have the VisualMATE display showing at the same time as WattPlot?

Yes you can.  Turn on the WattPlot Monitor's TCP/IP Server function, and then direct WattPlot VisualMATE to get its MATE data from the IP address served by the monitor's TCP/IP server.

Better yet, the PRO version of WattPlot Monitor has the VisualMATE display built right in so you can just request it directly (from the MATE menu).


Can I use any other monitoring software at the same time as WattPlot?

WattPlot receives MATE data through a serial data port (or MATE3 data pushed to a TCP/IP port), and only one application can access those data streams at one time.  (However, if you were to create a serial 'Y' cable that could split the signal and feed it to 2 different serial ports, then you could have other monitoring software (or a separate copy of WattPlot) running at the same time as WattPlot for an original MATE.)

Alternatively, if the other software can receive data from an IP address (as WattPlot can), then you can turn on the WattPlot's TCP/IP Server function, and allow WattPlot to serve up the same MATE data to the other application.


Can multiple users monitor the same OutBack System?

Yes, multiple users can monitor the same MATE or MATE3 in real-time.  There are a number of ways to do this.  The easiest is to create a TCP/IP Server

If real-time monitoring is not required, then any number of users can view the historical logs produced by the Monitor program, using an unlicensed copy of the WattPlot SUmMATE program.  WattPlot Monitor PRO can be configured to email these logs on a daily or monthly basis, automatically.


Can I monitor mulitple MATEs for one OutBack system?

Yes, WattPlot has a MultiMATE license option that allows you to monitor a system with any number of MATEs.  This is designed for single systems, showing all data on a single screen, however, some users have implemented it for multiple systems.  Read about other multiple system options.


Does it support the FLEXnet DC System Monitor and the FLEXmax 80/60 Charge Controllers?

Yes, WattPlot has supported both the FLEXnet DC monitor and the FLEXmax 80 Charge Controller from OutBack ever since they were released (WattPlot version 4.0 and higher).  The program is fully compatible with every feature of the FnDC's additional data capabilities - a great addition to the monitoring tools.  WattPlot also supports the improved charge current reporting and additional error messages of the FLEXmax 80 and FLEXmax 60.


Does it support the OutBack AXS Port for ModBus connections?

Yes, as of release 5.1, the WattPlot suite can monitor streaming ModBus data from an OutBack AXS Port device and load the data files it stores on its SD card.  The functionality to re-program system settings on the AXS Port from software is not yet supported.


Does it work with other equipment like weather stations or battery meters?

Various other devices like weather stations and battery meters can supply data via a serial cable to your computer.  So long as your computer has enough serial ports for each device, WattPlot can continue to monitor MATE activity, however, data from the other devices cannot yet be included on the WattPlot pen plots and log files.


Does WattPlot support European regional settings, like a comma as decimal point?

Yes, WattPlot uses your computer's regional settings to display and accept decimal points as "." or "," throughout the program.  It also uses the appropriate separators when creating the Monthly Power Usage summary files, which are directly readable in any major spreadsheet program.


Is WattPlot compatible with the new MATE3?

Yes, All WattPlot tools are fully compatible with the MATE3.

If you don't need real-time monitoring, the BEST tool available anywhere for interpreting MATE3 data is WattPlot SUmMATE.  SumMATE can upload MATE3 logged data files from an SD memory card, summarize the data, and back it up with a single mouse click.  It can then present the data as summaries, plots, spreadsheets, bar charts, and more.

Yhe implementation of the MATE3 design itself has some challenges which you should be aware of.


Why is WattPlot asking for my email password?

Programs in the WattPlot suite of software tools have the potential to send you emails alerting you to important system events, or for tracking data logs.  Some programs rely on this more than others.  WattPlot always prompts for email settings because entering this information will also allow you to more easily register and activate your software, request technical support, share data files, or capture and send program traces in the unlikely event of a serious program issue.

The fact is that to do this without user intervention, you have to store your email password in a place where WattPlot can access it for sending email.  All WattPlot 5 programs store this data in a highly secure manner and will never transmit any of it off your computer.  Yes, we recognize that there would be a trust issue associated with that.  We have only our 9-year reputation in the industry to offer for that.

One good compromise might be to setup a free hotmail or gmail account that is only used by WattPlot. That way, your regular email is only receiving messages, not sending any.

The bottom line is that you do NOT need to enter ANY email settings.  The programs will function without them (except for email functions, of course).  And if you skip the Email Settings dialog box, you can always enter them later from the Options menu.


Do I need to set up files, or does the program do it automatically?

WattPlot will create all the files that it needs, as required.  It also creates folders to organize all of the files, although you have the option of specifying other folders for storing logs if you wish.  (See “Setup Logging” under the Options menu).

There is an initial setup screen where you define your OutBack system in some detail to WattPlot.  Most of this information can be preloaded by the WattPlot Device Wizard which can analyze incoming MATE information and make an educated guess about the devices of your system.  This can be further refined in the System Components screen, allowing the program to do more sophisticated functions automatically later on.


When I attach it to the MATE, does it just automatically begin taking in and processing data?

No (and Yes).  With the computer attached to the MATE, you have to run WattPlot, and select "Begin Receiving MATE Data" from the File menu.  However, if you go to "System Components" on the Options menu, you can turn on "Auto-Start", which means that it starts receiving as soon as you run WattPlot – no need to click that File menu option.  With "Auto-Start" on, WattPlot can be added to your Windows "Startup" folder, so that it starts logging data as soon as Windows boots up.


If I shut off or disconnect my PC, does the previous data get saved?

WattPlot attempts to save data at regular intervals (usually every 1-4 minutes or less).  If the PC is simply turned off, then there is always a danger of losing data (for any application).  Running past midnight, clicking “Stop Receiving Data”, or closing down WattPlot (either by exiting the program or exiting Windows), will generate a more comprehensive and coordinated data save before it continues/stops/exits respectively.


When I re-connect it, does it just take off where things ended with a gap in between?

Yes, sort of.  All of your previous data (back to midnight of the current day) will be displayed, and WattPlot will simply pick up where it left off.  WattPlot shows no visible gap, however, hovering the mouse on the plot will bring up text that shows the time (and other values) for each entry.


Are the vertical plot scales user-adjustable?

Yes, you can change these to your preferences.  (Note that it is not possible to see more detail on plots, given limitations with the data from the MATE.)  Here's how WattPlot determines the default scales:

The kW scale is determined for each individual plot window, based on the following formula:

Inverters: 10.0kW per device (multiple devices may appear on the same plot), regardless of model.  This may seem high, given the inverter specs, but since the MATE only has a resolution of about 100W, it works out to one pixel for 100W on a plot 100 pixels high – a lower maximum would not give a smooth line.

Charge Controllers: 1.0 kW for every 12VDC. In other words, 4.0kW for a 48V system, based on the MX60 spec of 800W maximum solar array for every 12VDC.  We appreciate that not every system runs at maximum capacity, so we allow this maximum to be adjustable, but the plot only gets narrower - the resolution will not get better, for the same pixel reasons as the FX inverters.

The vDC scale for the batteries has a minimum voltage that is well below the point at which the MATE should disengage, so users often ask if a higher minimum would make it easier to see low-battery conditions.  Here's the problem:

The MATE resolution on a 24V system is 0.2V.  The present scale spread of 20V gives a resolution of 1 pixel per 0.4V, which matches the MATE resolution, resulting in a continuous connected line.  In this case, the plots are not intended to be the primary indicator of warning conditions.  Low battery voltages and other warnings are indicated by the appropriate value in the upper snapshot appearing with a yellow (warning) or red (critical) background, instead of the gray.

Generally speaking, both default scales are also designed to minimize the cross-over of vDC and kW data, reducing overlap (and invisible points).


Can I log the volts and amps coming from each array in my solar panel setup?

A breakdown of volts and amps by specific PV array is not possible from the data the MATE provides, unless you have a separate charge controller for each array.  WattPlot can log data for individual devices (inverters and charge controllers) or can optionally combine devices into logical sets, based on your definition.  If you have a FLEXnet DC monitor, it might be possible to wire a shunt so that you can track the production of a specific array.


Can WattPlot show me elapsed charging times, etc.?

We did look into tracking charge times, etc.  Unfortunately the MATE interface does not say what mode the charge controller is in - it just says what the inverter is doing.  Typical charge cycles include lots of time when the FX Mode is not "Charging", so it is not possible to get such running times from the data now supplied by the MATE.


Can I view the raw data that corresponds to my performance plots?

Yes!  There are a number of ways to view the data that generated the device plots, depending on your particular needs.  Hovering your mouse over any part of the plot will show the approximate values for that point.  If you are looking at a historical plot (not being built in real-time), you can right-click to view more specific data related to that point, or you can select start and end points and then export the selected raw data to a text file or to an spreadsheet (as a CSV file).

WattPlot can also capture all of the raw MATE data that it works with and write it to text files in real-time.  These files can be later used to drive session simulations, using the "Captured Data" source option.  Note that the MATE transmits 3 KB per minute for each device, so the captured data file will grow by over 175 KB per device every hour (to 4.2MB every day).  We recommend this option only be used temporarily to build simulation files, or by advanced users needing deeper data analysis with separate software.


In the Snaphot bars, why do you show real-time volts and amps for the FX, but not watts?

The decision was originally based on a concept that the snapshot bars show raw data from the MATE, without any imposed calculations, etc.  While FX voltage is relatively accurate, the resolution from the FX for amps is quite poor (+/- 1.0 amp).  Displaying this data in watts would amplify such inaccuracies, giving misleading information.  For example, if a charge went from 0.9 to 1.1 amps, the amperage display would go from 1 to 2, but the wattage would jump from 120 to 240 W.

Note that the pen-plots are based on wattage, but the scale is designed to match the resolution of the FX.


Can WattPlot access the historical data stored in my OutBack device (e.g. 128-day data)?

No, unfortunately this information is only accessible if the MATE was being actively monitored for that time period.  OutBack does not make this information immediately accessible by external software.  The FLEXnet DC monitor does have a few cumulative values and the MX-60 has a Daily kWH tally that are available to WattPlot, and it does track this data, however, unless you accumulate the data yourself (or pay a monitoring system to do it) the daily history logs going back 128 days are only accessible through the device or the MATE.


Can I run the WattPlot Monitor and WattPlot VisualMATE at the same time?

Yes, you can!  Run the WattPlot Monitor program and turn-on its built-in TCP Server function.  You can then run VisualMATE, and specify the MATE Data Source as being TCP/IP, and supply the IP Address and Port given by the Monitor's TCP Server.  The Monitor program will receive the MATE data using your existing communication set-up and pass on that data to WattPlot VisualMATE.

Note that WattPlot 5, the next major release of the software suite, will have the VisualMATE interface built-in to the Monitor program as a viewing option!


Remote Monitoring


Can I monitor my MATE remotely?

Yes!  There are many ways to monitor a MATE remotely, depending on your specific needs and the situation.  Some options are described below, where system site refers to where the MATE is, and other site refers to the distant location:

1.  Detailed monitoring - shared, solo, or delayed?

SHARED.  I need the detailed real-time data simultaneously visible at both the system and other sites.  If the system site has an accessible IP address, you can use the WattPlot Monitor program free (unlicensed) to Piggy-Back on to the MATE data stream over the internet (so only one WattPlot license is required).  Multiple TCP Clients at other sites may view the same data stream simultaneously.

SOLO.  I want to monitor a system that is at a distant location, in real-time, with no monitoring required at the actual system site.  If the system site has an accessible IP address, you can use a TCP/IP connection from the standard WattPlot monitor program.  This does not require a computer at the system site, however, you will need to convert the MATE serial data signal to an IP one.  Or if you can have a dedicated serial modem link between the two sites, you can use a pair of modems to simply extend the serial data connection.  Or if both sites have access to a common network folder, you can use the free WattPlot Remote program to provide data for your WattPlot monitor program running at the other site.

DELAYED.  I want to review the detailed performance logs of a system that is at a distant location, without the need to monitor the system in real-time.  A WattPlot PRO monitor program, running at the system site, can be set to automatically email the full second-by-second monitoring data in compact, easily-attached files, on a daily or monthly basis.  These files may then be viewed by anyone running an unlicensed WattPlot SumMATE or Monitor program.  Or a user on site can email these logs on-demand from any version of WattPlot.

2.  On-demand monitoring - Web page, alerts, or multiple system check-up

WEB PAGE.  I want a web page with a snapshot of how the system is doing at any time.  The simplest solution is to use off-the-shelf screen capture products that can post a copy of your running WattPlot screen to a web site with whatever frequency you choose.  Or you can use off-the-shelf virtual desktop software to connect in to your monitoring computer running WattPlot.  Or you can use WattPlot's new System-Summary-by-Minute function which writes a simple text file (CSV), updated every minute, that can be turned into web content by some simple web programming (documented here).  (Thank you to Sallye Holloway of WoofPower for a great document on the programming option.)  (Actually, there is something simpler than the first option.  One user actually just fed a webcam image of their monitoring computer on to their web site!)  You can view a few examples of live web pages with WattPlot output from here.

ALERTS.  I need to be informed of system errors, warnings, or alerts that I can define myself.  The PRO version of WattPlot allows you to define any number of data triggers that will result in actions such as informative emails to be sent automatically by the monitoring computer.  It can also send MATE commands or run other Windows programs in response to these triggers.

MULTIPLE SYSTEM CHECK-UP.  I need to monitor multiple systems, not to collect detailed performance data, but instead to ensure that all systems are operating and running properly.  These industrial and dealer scenarios can be handled by a central monitoring station running WattPlot CheckMATE, connected to the various system sites by TCP/IP.


Can I monitor my system over the internet?

Yes you can.  This can be accomplished in a number of ways.  If you need precise monitoring, the best way is to simply convert the MATE's serial signal to TCP/IP (read about how this works) and then point WattPlot to that TCP/IP address and port.  Another method is to run the WattPlot Remote program on site with the MATE and direct it to save the data files in a location accessible by the internet (using VPN for example).  You can then run a WattPlot Monitor program anywhere, and have it read those data files for input.

For big picture monitoring, a number of clients have used different methods to view what their systems are doing from anywhere by putting WattPlot on their web sites.  See more details about web pages, or see some examples for yourself.


How can I monitor my system by TCP/IP, without a computer attached to the MATE?

If you can convert the MATE's serial signal to TCP/IP, then WattPlot can monitor the data via TCP/IP.  Prior to version 4.2, this was done through a virtual serial port on the monitoring computer - now WattPlot can monitor TCP/IP ports directly.  However, you still need to convert the MATE's serial signal to TCP/IP at one end.  Read all about this here.


How does the WattPlot Remote program work?

NOTE: The WattPlot Remote program is now obsolete.

In a typical (Local) WattPlot installation, the Monitor program runs on the computer that the serial cable from the MATE is plugged into.  In a Remote installation, it is the Remote program that runs on the computer connected to the MATE.

The Remote program handles all the serial port data communication with the MATE, and writes the performance data out to a series of ten data files (Remote_0.dat, Remote_1.dat, ... , Remote_9.dat).  Once all ten files have been written, it returns to the first and cycles through them again, replacing the contents with the latest data.

You specify the location of these ten data files, so they can exist on a network or intranet server, accessible in a wide variety of ways.  By telling the Monitor program, running on a different computer, where to find these ten data files, the data may be transferred from the MATE to a WattPlot Monitor located anywhere.

As of WattPlot version 3.5.2, used remote data files are no longer deleted, so that multiple Monitor programs can track the same Remote site.

When the last file has been processed, the Monitor program returns to the first file, which, by this time, will have new data from the Remote program.

Another file (Remote_Cmd.dat) is used to send commands from the Monitor program to the Remote program, which can forward appropriate commands to the MATE if applicable.


Can WattPlot transmit alerts by phone or email?

Yes, the Professional version of WattPlot (WattPlot PRO) has extensive user programming capabilities, including emails in response to events or scheduled.  WattPlot can also be customized with dealer logos and special capabilities.  Click here for more information.


Can WattPlot control my MATE remotely?

Yes.  Depending on the device that you are communicating through, WattPlot supports the full complement of MATE/MATE3 commands, subject to the device limitations.


Can I connect into my client's system to see their WattPlot screen?

Yes you can.  We call this piggy-backing on to their MATE data stream, and it is easy to do (even over the internet) so long as their computer can be accessed as a unique IP address.  The client has to turn on the built-in WattPlot TCP/IP Server (which has optional passwords for access and for MATE command acceptance).  You can then connect in to that server and see their MATE data in your own WattPlot screens.  You don't even need a licensed copy of WattPlot!  Piggy-back monitoring can be done from any unlicensed WattPlot Monitor program.

See below for more details.


How does the WattPlot TCP/IP Server work?

The WattPlot Monitor and WattPlot NetMATE programs both have built-in TCP/IP Server capabilities, meaning that you can access the MATE or MATE3 data stream that they monitor from anywhere that has network access.  When you turn on the TCP Server, you specify an IP listening port (e.g. 9091) on that host computer.  Any other computer that can access the host by its IP address can run any other WattPlot tool and access the same data, as if it were directly connected to the same MATE or MATE3.

TCP/IP access is available to all computers on the same Local or Wide Area Network, and over the internet if you have setup the host computer with a unique IP address for external access.  As the WattPlot TCP Server on the host computer receives data from the MATE/MATE3, it passes it on to any TCP Client who has requested to share the data stream.  The client may also be optionally allowed to send a command to the MATE, through the server.  The TCP Server can be configured to require a password for data access and to accept MATE commands.



Ordering and Licensing

How can I try out the program?

Fully functional evaluation copies are available here.


How much does WattPlot cost?

WattPlot is $120 per license.  Any combination of up to 10 devices (FX inverters, MX or FlexMAX charge controllers, FlexNET DC monitor) may be monitored for one price.  WattPlot PRO is $180, or $60 for an upgrade, and can can simultaneously monitor multiple MATEs, MATE3s, and/or AXS Port devices.  Since it is licensed by computer, WattPlot PRO can also store and organize the settings for (and data from) any number of MATEs, making it a perfect tool for dealers and installers.  A WattPlot VisualMATE license is $30.

The new WattPlot™ NetMATE application, giving MATE3 comaptibility, TCP Server connectivity, and emails of alerts, is available for $30.

Note that with licensing by computer, WattPlot can monitor any number of MATEs.

See the WattPlot Order page for details.


How do I order a copy?

Read the complete answer here.


Do I need an internet connection to get the software?

The WattPlot software is typically downloaded from the internet, and activations are typically done by email (within 24 to 48 hours).  That being said, a number of clients have dumped the installation ZIP file on to a portable storage device and installed WattPlot in remote locations with no internet connections.  Over-the-phone activations can also be arranged when necessary.

Another option is to install WattPlot on a temporary PC, license it, and then install WattPlot on the target PC and transfer the license from the temporary PC yourself.  MATE serial number conflicts in this instance are not a problem.


How does the product evaluation work?  Can I try it out for a longer trial period?

WattPlot is available as a fully functional trial copy.  Simply download the program, install it, and follow the instructions for requesting a trial activation code.  The two-week trial period starts when the activation code is created, and should therefore be requested around the time that it can be used.  WattPlot will then run for two weeks (usually about 16 days, actually) before the trial period ends.  Even if it is at a remote lcoation and you are unable to access your system within the two weeks, all of the data will be retained.  You will be able to view all of your information, so you should have more than enough logs and files to determine if the software functions on your system and is going to suit your needs or not.  Additional activations (such as activating a permanent license) can be done from the running program, without losing a second of data.

Longer evaluation periods are typically unnecessary for achieving the expected objectives, however, they may be granted in specific circumstances.


Can I run WattPlot on more than one computer with just one license?

No, each copy of WattPlot's Monitor program must be separately licensed for the computer that it is to be run on.  You may move this license yourself if required.  Note that all WattPlot programs can be run unlicensed (with limited functionality).


What if my hardware changes or I need to move to a new computer?

Moving the Monitor program to a different computer or making significant hardware changes to your system (such as replacing the hard drive) might require WattPlot to be re-licensed.  If you are moving to a different computer, you can generate your own activation key for the new computer, which will take the license off the original system.

Hardware changes that change the original PC's unique ID cannot be as easily transfered since the two configurations do not simultaneously exist.  In such instances, you can remove the license yourself and then have it re-licensed after the change.  In the case of an unexpected (emergency) hardware change, WattPlot will issue its own 7-day grace period license, in order to allow you to contact us with a description of the change and a request for a new license key.  Our typical response time is less than 48 hours.


I just got a new MATE with a new serial number.  Will WattPlot still work?

WattPlot Licensing is partial driven by the MATE serial number, however, the system has specific internal functions to allow you to switch to a new MATE without any user intervention.  Simply plug the serial cable into the new MATE and continue as before.


How many systems can I monitor with one standard license?

WattPlot is typically designed to monitor a single MATE for a unique OutBack system.  However, once it has been installed and licensed on a 'home base' system, it can be transported on the same computer to different MATEs without a problem.  Installers can therefore take WattPlot on a laptop to a client site for temporary monitoring.

WattPlot can store configurations for multiple systems, allowing dealers and installers to easily switch back and forth between systems.

The standard WattPlot can also be used on one computer to monitor multiple MATEs simultaneously.  Please contact us for more information on how to do this.

A better solution for monitoring multiple MATEs is the WattPlot MultiMATE product (for detailed monitoring of a small number of systems) or the WattPlot CheckMATE product (for less detailed monitoring of a large number of systems).


Are dealer or installer discounts available?

Yes, absolutely!  Read the complete details here.


I'm a dealer.  How do I get my logo and company name on your software?

For a limited time, if you purchase a WattPlot PRO Dealer Package and send us your logo then we will make every new copy of WattPlot capable of being branded with your company name and logo.  Simply go to the System Components selection of the Options menu, double-click on the Intallact icon, and enter the dealer code that we assign to you.  After that, your company name will appear in the title bar and your logo will appear in the opening Splash, System Components, and Help...About windows.



Troubleshooting Problems


How do I send you a screen capture?

1.  When your computer screen is showing the issue, hold down the "Ctrl" and "Alt" keys, then press the "Print Scrn" key.  This will capture the screen image on to your 'clipboard'.

2.  Depending on your email program, you can sometimes Paste (Ctrl+V) the screen capture directly into the email text.  Another possibility is to Paste it into a document and then attach the document.

3.  Feel free to send as many images as are necessary to fully describe the issue.  Screen captures are usually an extremely valuable tool for resolving problems.


How do I send you my configuration files?

If you have a running WattPlot Monitor application and your email settings are defined, you can use the Send Information function under the Tools menu to send the Configuration Files as an email attachment.

Otherwise, you can use the following steps to send them manually.  Note that WattPlot uses two configuration files: "WPConfig.ini" and "systemName Config.ini" (where systemName is the name you gave to your WattPlot system definition).

1.  The configuration files are typically found in the C:\ProgramData\WattPlot folder.  If you don't see the ProgramData folder, your version of Windows may have it hidden by default.  If this is the case, follow steps 2 to 6.  Otherwise, skip to step 7.

2.  Open File Explorer and go to Local Disk (C:) drive.

3.  If available, click on View and then check the Hidden items box.  That may do it.

4.  Otherwise, click on Options (or select Folder Options from the Tools menu).

5.  Go to the View tab and find the Files and Folders section, and under that, the Hidden Files and Folders sub-section.

6.  Select the Show hidden files and folders option and click OK.

7.  Open a new message in your email application.

8.  Click on the paper clip icon to attach a file, and browse to the C:\ProgramData\WattPlot\WPConfig.ini file.  Click Open or OK.

9.  Repeat for the C:\ProgramData\WattPlot\systemName Config.ini file.


How do I send you a sample of my data log files?

If you have a running WattPlot Monitor application and your email settings are defined, you can use the Send Information function under the Tools menu to send various data files as an email attachment.

Otherwise, you can use the following steps to send them manually.  Note that "systemName" is the name you gave to your WattPlot system definition).

1.  The data files are typically found in the C:\ProgramData\WattPlot\systemName folder.  If you don't see the ProgramData folder, your version of Windows may have it hidden by default.  If this is the case, follow steps 2 to 6.  Otherwise, skip to step 7.

2.  Open File Explorer and go to Local Disk (C:) drive.

3.  If available, click on View and then check the Hidden items box.  That may do it.

4.  Otherwise, click on Options (or select Folder Options from the Tools menu).

5.  Go to the View tab and find the Files and Folders section, and under that, the Hidden Files and Folders sub-section.

6.  Select the Show hidden files and folders option and click OK.

7.  Open a new message in your email application.

8.  Click on the paper clip icon to attach a file, browse to the data file that you wish to send, then click Open or OK.

9.  Repeat for attaching additional files.


Serial Data Communication Issues


How can I check that the computer is correctly connected to the MATE?

The newest addition to the WattPlot suite of programs is our free WattPlot Communications Port Tester (available as a free download from here).  This sophisticated program will check the data coming in on the selected system COM or TCP/IP port, show you what it is receiving, and check the integrity of the data.  It also has a built-in Raw Data Capture feature, allowing you to write up to 1 MB of MATE data out to a file to use in WattPlot's simulation modes.


WattPlot does not appear to be seeing any data from the MATE.

First, check the PC Communications setting on the MATE.  The default setup of the OutBack MATE is not configured to transmit performance data.  You must turn on this feature.  (From the main menu on the MATE select SETUP, then MATE, then PG2, then COMM, then PC, and then ON, to activate the serial communications port on the MATE.

Second, check the cable.  The full specifications are found in the WattPlot User's Guide.  If you are using a USB, read this.

Thirdly, you can check your connection with our free WattPlot Communications Port Tester.

Finally, try the Problem Solver from WattPlot's Help menu, or read the User's Guide section on solving communication problems.


Why do I get communication time-out messages?  I'm often having to restart my data reception.

There are a number of reasons why the communications might stop between the MATE and the computer.  If they drop for more than a minute, WattPlot will log this as an error.  (The MATE may have some COMM errors logged itself in these situations.)

One thing you can do is turn on WattPlot's Auto-start option (from the System Components window of the Options menu).  This is normally used to have WattPlot start receiving data as soon as it is run, rather than waiting for you to click "Begin Receiving Data", however, it also tells WattPlot to keep trying to connect to the MATE after a communications time-out.  This option is recommended for unattended operation with a communication link that is having problems.



Where is the 9-pin serial connector on a MATE2?

The 9-pin serial connector on a MATE2 (the black flush-mount version of the MATE) is on the bottom at the back.  It may be covered by the plastic casing, so you may have to break off the small knock-out rectangle of plastic covering the connector access.  You might want to remove the cover (using the 4 screws) to make it easier to open the access hole.


Data Value Issues


WattPlot is reporting some values that do not agree with values on my MATE.

Some calculated values (especially wattages) may differ between WattPlot and the MATE because these calculations are performed in different ways.  For example, when you hover the mouse over a pen plot, the wattages displayed to you will be approximations whose accuracy depends on the resolution of your pen plot screen.  (I.e. the wattages are derived from the screen display, not the actual data.)  WattPlot uses actual data (not these approximations) for calculated power summaries, and only actual data is logged second-by-second.  You can see the real values (as reported by the MATE) for any given second by right-clicking on any historical plot and viewing the Raw Data.

As of version 4.1.9, WattPlot (by default) will also compensate for the value truncation of certain OutBack devices, which might explain some discrepancies between point-in-time calculated WattPlot values and those calculated by the MATE.


WattPlot is reporting unexpected zero values and/or my summary wattages seem low or inconsistent.

The accuracy of WattPlot's data is limited by the poor resolution of data reported to it by the OutBack equipment through the MATE.  The worst example of this is in Amps values, which are truncated by the FX to the next lower integer value for 120V systems.  This means that a current of 0.9 Amps will be reported as ZERO!

The other impact is that the effect on output wattages is worse because the voltages are higher.  In other words, an actual 9.9 Amps at 24 VDC coming into the batteries truncates to 9 x 24, which calculates to 216 Watts IN (instead of 237.6 W).  However, the corresponding inverter current of 1.9 Amps at 125 VAC is truncated to 1 x 125, resulting in a calculated wattage of 125 Watts OUT (instead of 237.5 W)!

Another example of the effect of this truncation behaviour is 'remarkable' MX efficiency.  Since PV panel voltages coming in to the MX are often greater than the battery bank voltage, their truncation has a greater effect on PV wattage-IN values than on the MX charger wattage-OUT values.  As a result, it can often look like the MX puts more wattage on to the batteries than was produced by your panels!

There are now three improvements to help deal with this truncation issue.  As of version 4.1.9, WattPlot (by default) will compensate for this truncation, improving the accuracy of wattage values.  (This is an option which can be turned off.)  Also, OutBack's FLEXnet DC monitor will report currents with much greater accuracy.  Read about WattPlot and the FLEXnet DC.  Thirdly, OutBack's new FlexMAX 60 and FlexMAX 80 charge controllers report charging amperage accurate to 0.1 Amps.


VisualMATE is showing unexpected values for Amps from Battery into Inverter.

We sometimes get emails telling us that the VisualMATE ‘battery amps’ look wrong or don't match the watts flowing from the battery bank to the inverter(s).  The confusion is caused by where we placed placed the value on the VisualMATE display.  Because the amps and watts and shown between the battery and the inverter boxes, most people assume they are “Battery Amps” (DC).  What the value actually reflects is “Inverter Amps” - the number of AC Amps being produced by the inverter solely from battery power.  So it is power coming off the batteries, converted to AC, and then being output by the inverter(s).  For whatever reason, the MATE does report power coming off the batteries as DC Amps, it only reports power being converted from DC to AC by the inverter.  Therefore the watts are calculated by multiplying the AC amps by the AC voltage, not the DC voltage.  The values indicated by VisualMATE are correct (but possibly misleading).


How does WattPlot handle Daylight Saving Time or MATEs in different time zones?

The latest generation of WattPlot tools (version 5) are much more specific about time-stamping incoming data down to the second.  This can be a problem in locations where adjustments for Daylight Saving Time (DST) jump clocks forwards or backwards by one hour (or some other value!).

We solved this by storing all data as if DST is always on (if the local PC time zone supports DST).  This means that in most of North America, for example, a WattPlot 'day' of data may run from 11 PM to 11 PM during winter months, instead of midnight to midnight.  The software still tries to show the user the 'actual' MATE time, adjusted for whether DST applies or not.

For consistency with MATE3-generated SD Card data, etc., we recommend that you set your MATE3 clock in DST and leave it that way all year.

WattPlot's Data Source Dialog box also a field for Time Zone, allowing you to indicate that the system you are monitoring might be in a different time zone from the monitoring PC.  If this is the case, WattPlot will log data and time values according to the MATE's local time zone, subject to the same DST adjustments noted above.


WattPlot's window showing my system settings does not match the settings on my MATE.

OutBack does not support the functionality of external software reading your system settings from the MATE.  WattPlot has the facility to record these values itself, but only if you enter them manually.  If you see values that you did not put in, then they are likely just the MATE default values, filled in by WattPlot to save you time.  (The program asks you to confirm the loading of any defaults before it does so.)

WattPlot has this window to allow fast and easy setting look-ups (as opposed to a lot of button pushing).  It also provides extensive help and descriptions for settings, and allows you to print or email your settings for technical support.  Read more here.


PV amps display is not being updated and/or my MX wattage is inconsistent with actual performance.

OutBack has confirmed a known bug in the MX software that you must leave the MX showing the Status screen in order for PV amps to be reported correctly.  If you leave the MX in the MISC screen, for example, the PV amps will not change to reflect actual values until you leave the screen!

If WattPlot detects non-zero PV amps unchanged for 2 hours, OR unchanged for 5 minutes AND Charger wattage exceeding twice PV production, then an alert will be issued to check the state of the MX screen.


What does WattPlot's truncation compensation do?

The amperage reported by the MATE from many OutBack devices is truncated to the integer value below the actual value.  This means, for example, that all actual values between 3.00 and 3.99 amps would be reported as 3 amps, resulting (on average) in reported amperage and wattage values well below the real world values.  WattPlot can compensate for this by adding 0.5 Amps to appropriate reported values when devices are in relevant operating modes, resulting in more accurate power summaries.

Note that to balance MATE display compatibility with data accuracy, WattPlot displays a mix of reported Amps (as reported by the MATE) and adjusted values (as calculated internally when truncation compensation is turned on).  The Snapshot bars for individual devices at the top of the display show reported Amps.  The Snapshot bars for reporting sets show adjusted values.  The wattage values in the pen-plots and in the power summary spreadsheets are all based on the adjusted values.

The following table shows four examples of how truncation compensation adjustments are applied:

Device   FX-1   FX-2FX-12 (set)     MX
Actual Volts (real world voltage)    119   121   120     30
Actual Amps (real world current)3.0 - 3.91.0 - 1.94.0 - 5.97.0 - 7.9
MATE Reported Amps (truncated value)      3     1   n/a     7
Snapshot Amps (with compensation OFF)      3     1     4     7
Watts accumulated/plotted (with compensation OFF)    357   121   480   210
Adjusted/Calculated Amps   3.5   1.5   5.0   7.5
Snapshot Amps (with compensation ON)      3     1     5     7
Watts accumulated/plotted (with compensation ON)    416.5   181.5   600   225
Actual Wattage (real world power)357 - 475121 - 241478 - 716210 - 239

Note that actual Amps and actual Wattages are a range.  The truncated value reported by the MATE means that the real value could be anywhere in that range.  With compensation turned OFF, only the lowest value in the range is used.  With compensation turned ON, the middle value of the range is used.


I don't understand what the temperature-compensated voltages mean.  Please explain.

Temperature-Compensated Voltage has a tricky implementation in OutBack devices so it may be difficult to grasp at first.  Both inverters and charge controllers have target settings that the devices compare to the battery voltage in order to know when to start and stop various charging stages (and other functions).  These are set on your charge controller or on your inverter, using the MATE display.

Battery voltage is a chemical reaction, which slows down as temperature drops and increases as temperature rises.  When the temperature is low, more energy is required to get to comparable battery states, and vice versa when the temperature is high.  If you have a Remote Temperature Sensor (RTS) connected to your system, then OutBack devices can adjust their operation using a voltage compensation, calculated based on the battery temperature.  For example, if you are in a battery Absorb cycle, then you want the system to put more energy into the batteries when they are cold (below 25 degrees Celcius).

There are two ways that the system can 'fool' the charger into raising the battery voltage during cold conditions - the inverter uses one method, the charge controller uses the other:

1.  If an inverter is trying to reach a target (say Absorb point), then instead of comparing the actual voltage to the setpoint, it compares a lower Temperature-Compensated Voltage to the setpoint.  This will result in more energy being pushed into the batteries.

2.  If a charge controller is trying to reach a target (say Absorb setpoint), then instead of comparing the actual voltage to the user-defined setpoint, it compares it to a higher, compensated setpoint.  This will result in more energy being pushed into the batteries.

Some settings use temperature compensation, others do not.  (This can also vary with different firmware releases.)

If you have a WattPlot PRO license, you can call up the DC Voltage Setting Relationships dialog box, which gives you a graphic representation of exactly how the settings interact, and how their operation changes at different temperatures.  The settings on the right are temperature compensated - the ones on the left are not.  If you don't have a FLEXnet DC monitor attached to your system you can enter either the Temperature-Compensated Voltage or the battery temperature (RTS value) - both available from the STATUS/FX/BATT menu on your MATE - in order to see the effects.

The WattPlot PRO MATE Settings dialog box will also tell you which settings use temperature compensation.

If you have a FLEXnet DC monitor attached to your system, then WattPlot can access the temperature reported by the RTS, and will show the Inverter Temperature-Compensated Voltage when you hover your mouse over any battery voltage or temperature field.

The actual voltage compensation is 0.005 VDC per degree off 25 C per 2V cell.  For example, a 24V inverter, reporting a 26.0 VDC at a 15 degree temperature, will show a TCV of:

26.0 - (0.005 * (25-15) * (24V/2V))
  = 26.0 - (0.005 * 10 * 12)
  = 25.4 (a difference of 0.6 VDC)

Using the same calculation as above, if an Charge cController Absorb point is set to 30.0 VDC, then at 15 degrees celsius, it will use a compensated set-point of 30.6 VDC for the absorb function.

Note that the limits of compensation are +2C (35.6F) to +60C (140F).  Thus the maximum voltage compensation will be 1.2 VDC (0.6 for a 12V system, 2.4 for a 48V system).


Error Messages


Windows Directory Naming Error: 'C:\' is not a valid drive for this directory!

This error has been reported on some Windows Vista installations of earlier releases of WattPlot.  The problem is caused by Vista's incompatibility with earlier Windows programs - one of Vista's well-known frustrations.  It is possible to resolve this issue by running WattPlot in "XP-compatible" mode, as well as trying some other options.  More information.  Specifically, installing WattPlot software on drive D:\ (instead of the usual C:\) if possible, also seems to correct this issue.  (You will probably have to move your license or have your copy re-activated by us.)


I'm getting an error message but I don't know what it means.

The WattPlot User's Guide has appendices with detailed descriptions of most error messages and how to resolve them.  If you need further help, contact us.


General/Display Issues



WattPlot Monitor (version 5) does not always show system data when I hover over plot columns that have data.

Implementing a point-sensitve pop-up tool tip showing system data for specific plot column was a non-trivial programming feat in WattPlot version 4.  For some reason (yet to be discovered), the exact same logic doesn't seem to be as reliable in the new development environment of the WattPlot 5 tools - sometimes it shows up, sometimes you have to move the cursor a bit and hover again.  If you need to see some values and the hover is not behaving, simply right-click on the column you are interested in and choose Show Point's Raw Data.


My program has a problem.  How do I know if I have the latest release, or if this problem was fixed?

The WattPlot update page tells you the latest version number for each program, and allows you to directly download updates for free.  There is no need to re-activate after an update.  The update page also tells you exactly what changes are included for each version number.  Use the About screen, under the WattPlot Help menu, to determine which version you are currently running.

If your system is internet-connected, and you are running a version 5 WattPlot application, you can automatically check for new releases and update your program from the File menu.


How do I know which color line on my pen-plots correspond to which data set?  Is there any legend for the lines?

A shortage of screen space made an explicit legend impractical.  Instead, the same colors used in the pen-plots are standardized in the Snapshot bars at the top of the WattPlot window, and in the power usage summaries at the bottom of active pen-plots.

For inverters, the colors are:

Red = Battery Voltage
Blue = Inverter Watts
Purple = Charger Watts
Brown = Buy Watts
Green = Sell Watts

For charge controllers, the colors are:

Red = Battery Voltage
Purple = Charger Watts
Brown = PV Watts

For FlexNET DC Monitors, the colors are:

Red = Battery Voltage
Purple = State-of-Charge
Green = Shunt 1 (A)
Brown = Shunt 2 (B)
Blue = Shunt 3 (C)

The Date field in my monthly power summary is always filled with "######" when I open it in Excel.  Why?

WattPlot uses .CSV files to compile monthly power summary data files.  These are actually very simple text files that Excel (and every other spreadsheet program) recognizes and loads easily, using default values for such things as column widths.  Alas, in Excel, the default column width happens to be too narrow for dates, so to see them, you simply have to widen the column a touch!

Note that, since these simple text files have no memory of such adjustments, you unfortunately have to do this every time you open the summary file into Excel.  We note that some other spreadsheet programs do not have this inconvenience.


Other Issues


I am adding a new OutBack device to my system.  How will this affect WattPlot?

WattPlot Monitor keeps careful track of all your OutBack devices defined in your system.  While it is usually smart enough to just add devices on-the-fly (plug-and-play), that method is not really recommended.

The easiest addition is to add a new device to an empty port on your HUB.  We recommend adding it to WattPlot FIRST (using the System Components screen under the Options menu).  That way, you can define it precisely, and WattPlot will not be surprised when the data starts showing up.  You can then simply plug the new device into the HUB in the port you defined for it.

The difficulties arise when you need to re-arrange your existing devices.  For this, you should always redefine the system in WattPlot FIRST (using the System Components screen under the Options menu), before changing the actual system.  There are two choices for this:

If you are using the WattPlot default IDs, then the port number is part of the device ID (such as "CC-2").  You can add an inverter into port 2 and keep the same ID for your charge controller now in another port (e.g. "CC-2" for the charge controller in port 3), but this could get confusing.  On the other hand, a lot of your historical data is stored using the old device ID, so do you really want to change it?  That is your decision.

As for the new system definition, you can either clear out the old one and start again in the System Components window (under the Options menu), OR you can Add a new System definition (from the Systems menu).  This will allow you to select the old or new system definition when opening historical data.  That is the most elegant solution - and even better if you wait until the end of a calendar month in order to make a clear transition from one definition to the next.  NOTE: If you keep the data folders separate (which is the WattPlot default for two different system definitions), WattPlot will make intelligent guesses as to which system definition to use, based on which folder you open historical data from!


Questions and Answers are added regularly!  Got one you don't see here?  Send it to us...

Back to Top

[1] WinVerter™–Monitor FX-MX is a trademark of RightHand Engineering, LLC

Copyright © 2007-17 Andrew Welch, Intallact