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Old February 1st, 2022, 08:08 AM   #1
fcej
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What PLC for beginner

Hi,

I am looking on PLCs to make automations in a greenhouse (30x90 feet) in Canada, Québec. The goal is to start a heating, move rollup motors, read temperature probes.
I made a lot of computer programming, but I am completely new in the PLC world.

I am looking for something reliable, and not too expensive (if possible), with IoT (MQTT) support (LAN only).
I looked on AutomationDirect PLCs, which seem to be interesting for me, with free programming software.
I took a quick look on Siemens, Schneider Electrics, Wago, but they all seems to have a paying programming software.

Can you help me choose something based on the criteria I mentioned?
Thanks in advance !
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Old February 1st, 2022, 08:24 AM   #2
busarider29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fcej View Post
Hi,

I am looking on PLCs to make automations in a greenhouse (30x90 feet) in Canada, Québec. The goal is to start a heating, move rollup motors, read temperature probes.
I made a lot of computer programming, but I am completely new in the PLC world.

I am looking for something reliable, and not too expensive (if possible), with IoT (MQTT) support (LAN only).
I looked on AutomationDirect PLCs, which seem to be interesting for me, with free programming software.
I took a quick look on Siemens, Schneider Electrics, Wago, but they all seems to have a paying programming software.

Can you help me choose something based on the criteria I mentioned?
Thanks in advance !
You're likely to get a myriad of responses with varying opinions. I'm not familiar with AD hardware/software, but I know they are very inexpensive. If cost is your biggest factor, then it appears you've already identified your solution with Automation Direct PLC.
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Old February 1st, 2022, 09:20 AM   #3
fcej
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So only AutomationDirect make free programming software ?
Our budget is around 2500 $US.
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Old February 1st, 2022, 09:31 AM   #4
busarider29
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So only AutomationDirect make free programming software ?
Our budget is around 2500 $US.
Beckhoff has free engineering software (TwinCAT XAE). You'll have to pay for the runtime license at some point. You can keep reactivating the free runtime trial license every 7 days, but eventually you'll most likely want to purchase the runtime license. The runtime license cost is based on 'performance level' of the PLC you purchase. For your project and least amount of cost and fastest delivery, I would opt for a CX9020, which is ~$1000 but you might be able to get one cheaper on Ebay. Runtime license for that will probably only be ~$200. Of course you'll still need to get your I/O terminals.

Others may have differing opinions/recommendations.
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Old February 1st, 2022, 09:34 AM   #5
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Unless you really want to get into PLC programming for a career you can look into other control methods. Home Automation systems could also be used. Home Assistant with Node Red gives you a Function Block programming interface. It has a myriad of add-ins to control nearly anything. For a small greenhouse it may be cost efficient, the HA system is free, just needs a PC or a RPI to run on. I automate my home with HA. I wouldn't try to automate an industrial plant with HA but a single greenhouse, thats no more complicated than a home. Your endpoint hardware is the question of compatabilitiy. But with its massive add-in support you may be able to find something that will work. It's worth a look at least.
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Last edited by Nova5; February 1st, 2022 at 09:36 AM.
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Old February 1st, 2022, 09:42 AM   #6
Snyd1
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The micro 800 line of Allen Bradley can be programmed with the free version of CCW.

Unitronics, have not used but have been told they have IOT support for MQTT and such.

Weintek/Maplesystems might also have IO modules and free software

I think Phoenix has free software as well, but the controllers would likely make up for the cost of software.

I have not used any of these options, except the Micro 800s they would need a middle man to handle IOT/MQTT.
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Old February 1st, 2022, 09:55 AM   #7
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Siemens S7-1200 is relatively inexpensive, and there is a library for MQTT:
https://cache.industry.siemens.com/d...KU_V2-1_en.pdf
There are starter kits where you get the programming software bundled with a CPU at almost the cost of a CPU alone.

Other suggestion, maybe a KUNBUS Pi with Codesys, and MQTT for Codesys ?
https://revolutionpi.com/
https://sourceforge.net/projects/codesys-mqtt-library/
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Old February 1st, 2022, 10:20 AM   #8
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I'll throw in a vote for a Horner controller/HMI. All in one unit, free software. Might be an option for something like this. OP, look into a Horner XL7
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Old February 1st, 2022, 10:41 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by busarider29 View Post
Beckhoff has free engineering software (TwinCAT XAE). You'll have to pay for the runtime license at some point. You can keep reactivating the free runtime trial license every 7 days, but eventually you'll most likely want to purchase the runtime license. The runtime license cost is based on 'performance level' of the PLC you purchase. For your project and least amount of cost and fastest delivery, I would opt for a CX9020, which is ~$1000 but you might be able to get one cheaper on Ebay. Runtime license for that will probably only be ~$200. Of course you'll still need to get your I/O terminals.

Others may have differing opinions/recommendations.
I should note that if you pick up a CX9020 used on Ebay, there's a high probability it already has a paid-for runtime license on it.
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Old February 1st, 2022, 12:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fcej View Post
Hi,

I am looking on PLCs to make automations in a greenhouse (30x90 feet) in Canada, Québec. The goal is to start a heating, move rollup motors, read temperature probes.
I made a lot of computer programming, but I am completely new in the PLC world.

How many inputs and outputs? up to a dozen? a dozen dozen?


What types of inputs and outputs? how many discrete (bits/booleans)? how many analog?

Does the budget include programming time?
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Old February 1st, 2022, 02:10 PM   #11
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How many inputs and outputs? up to a dozen? a dozen dozen?


What types of inputs and outputs? how many discrete (bits/booleans)? how many analog?

Does the budget include programming time?
4-6 RTD + 2 digital inputs, 8 relays outputs for our greenhouse.

Thanks all for your responses, I will have a look on this.

Last edited by fcej; February 1st, 2022 at 02:27 PM.
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Old February 1st, 2022, 02:52 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by Snyd1 View Post
they have IOT support for MQTT and such.
The CLICK PLUS also https://www.automationdirect.com/adc...%20asc&start=0
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Old February 1st, 2022, 03:39 PM   #13
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If your main goal is cheap hardware and free software, it's hard to beat automation direct. I think AB and Siemens have hardier components and are easier to program quickly. Downtime is very expensive to me so dollars spent on software and more expensive hardware is worth it. It's also easier to find outside support on AB and Siemens products than most others. I think automation direct would be fine for what you have described.
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Old February 1st, 2022, 03:54 PM   #14
fcej
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Originally Posted by PLCMentor View Post
If your main goal is cheap hardware and free software, it's hard to beat automation direct. I think AB and Siemens have hardier components and are easier to program quickly. Downtime is very expensive to me so dollars spent on software and more expensive hardware is worth it. It's also easier to find outside support on AB and Siemens products than most others. I think automation direct would be fine for what you have described.
Yes AutomationDirect are very interesting for me.
Anyway, I also need the PLC to be in the greenhouse (-30 to +40 celsius), in a heated waterproof box of course. And if the heater or the rollup sides don't operate at the right time, this is bad, even very bad for vegetables.
So maybe Siemens or AB, or hardier hardware than AutomationDirect worth the price. Siemens are easy to find online, AB not, but maybe I looked wrong...
Still thinking.
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Old February 2nd, 2022, 07:22 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fcej View Post
Yes AutomationDirect are very interesting for me.
Anyway, I also need the PLC to be in the greenhouse (-30 to +40 celsius), in a heated waterproof box of course. And if the heater or the rollup sides don't operate at the right time, this is bad, even very bad for vegetables.
So maybe Siemens or AB, or hardier hardware than AutomationDirect worth the price. Siemens are easy to find online, AB not, but maybe I looked wrong...
Still thinking.
Just because it cost more does not mean its any better, you can have failures regardless of the price, just about ALL PLC's made now are very good.

Find one that you can support up there and get parts if needed, then build redundancy into your system to help with possible failures and fail safes
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