Tag Archive: Energy Monitor


Despite still having a handful of unfinished projects I decided to take the plunge and have some solar panels installed. I found a local MCS accredited installer MAH Solar Solutions and in no time had the kit up and running. My house faces east/west so I have 8 panels on each side.

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The panels are Canadian Solar 250W, total 16 to form a 4KW system fed into a Aurora ONE/PVI 3.6 inverter in the loft.

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The solar install was the perfect opportunity to finally replace my ancient fusewire consumer unit. Which got me to thinking of ways I may be able to better monitor my energy consumption. I hoped to find “a magical fuse box” but hours, days, weeks of research and the best solution I could come up with were DIN rail mount KWH meters.

Unfortunately no amount of searching could find a single image of the KWH meters in use or a diagram of how to wire them in a consumer unit. Instinct told me to have each meter mounted alongside each breaker, but this would prevent me from using the busbar. Then I thought about mounting them upside down, but this would cause similar issues and mean running the neutral far too close to the busbar! The next idea was to either mount 2 consumer units side by side, having the breakers in one and the meters in the other… Then I found some information about twin/dual rail consumer units which seemed like a winning idea.

MAH Solar Solutions were to be installing the new consumer unit and despite having never seen or used the KWH meters before they were more than happy to install them. They came up with the idea of mounting the meters at the end of each block of breakers. With a big enough consumer unit this meant the busbar could still be used. I will try and add some diagrams and more images at a later date.

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I’m still working the best way to read so many pulse counters simultaneously and log/process the data. Currently http://openenergymonitor.org/emon/buildingblocks/12-input-pulse-counting looks like one of the most promising, but I will need to start from scratch with a way to count, store, transmit etc. So for the time being I decided on the fluksometer which can handle 4 pulse inputs- which will do for now: mains, solar, oven & gas meter.

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The flukso service itself provides quite nice graphing- you can see here my mains consumption (blue), oven consumption (green), solar pv generation (red) and gas consumption (orange).

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Which feeds nicely to pvoutput.org.

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You can see the rj11 cable coming out of the gas meter (to the fluksometer). The purple cable runs from the RS485 port on the inverter in the loft. I am waiting on a USB to RS485 device so I can start pulling some detailed data using Aurora Monitor or similar.

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I understand the fluksometer has an onboard RFM12B configured on the 868Mhz band to understand communication from jeelabs devices- which is ideal as I meter my water using jeenodes.

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I just don’t know how to get them talking… yet!

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NetSmart Pro 24

Got home from work and the NetSmart Pro 24 (aka Current Cost Bridge) was waiting for me (along with 3 more Individual Appliance Monitors). Hooked it all up and seems to be ticking along nicely:

I could use another 3 monitors but am hoping to use the last few channels to monitor gas and potentially water.

That’s all for toady!

L

Energy Monitoring Update

So I’ve neglected the whole energy monitoring interest for a few months but spotted the new CurrentCost Individual Appliance Monitors (IAMs) are finally available (http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/Current-Cost-IAM-Pack-1-UK-Version-Only-/170673700726?pt=UK_AudioElectronicsVideo_Video_TelevisionSetTopBoxes&hash=item27bcf1ff76) so ordered a few and started playing again.

In addition to monitoring overall household consumption I now have the fridge, servers and living room a/v equipment each giving their own power readings BUT these are not currently posted to the internet using my original CurrentCost bridge. After doing a little reading it appears a new bridge has been released now branded as the CurrentCost "NetSmart". You can send off your existing device to be upgraded (presumably a firmware flash): http://currentcost.com/netsmart-upgrade.html or buy new.

Upgrade pricing:

£5.99- NetSmart 12 (12 month subscription with up to 3 additional energy data channels)
£7.99- NetSmart 24 (24 month subscription with up to 3 additional energy data channels)
£11.99- NetSmart Pro 12 (12 month subscription with up to 9 additional energy data channels)
£14.99- NetSmart Pro 24 (24 month subscription with up to 9 additional energy data channels)

New pricing:

£34.49- NetSmart 12
£37.49- NetSmart 24
£39.94- NetSmart Pro 12
£45.94- NetSmart Pro 24

I opted for the NetSmart Pro 24. I’ve yet to receive the device but I’ve seen a sneak peak of what to expect on the forum:

The other addition to my existing system I’ve been wanting to see is the ability to monitor gas and hopefully even water consumption. Neither have officially been delivered BUT a new device is available which may help achieve one or both of the aforementioned: Introducting the CurrentCost OptiSmart- http://currentcost.com/product-optismart.html

The OptiSmart can be used as an alternative to the clamp/transmitter that originally shipped with the energy monitor(s) if (and only if) your electricity meter is compatible. The same device can in theory be used to read gas and water meters should they contain a pulsing LED to indicate consumption. Unfortunately, mine do not! However, whilst examine my gas meter (Slumberger R5) I found an RJ11 socket which after some research appears to provide direct connectivity to the pulses! With a bit of luck the lead on the OptiSmart can be modified to plug in to this RJ11 socket. I’ve sent an e-mail to CurrentCost to see if they can confirm this before I order one. If that fails I may try with the CurrentCost development board.

I mentioned in a post a while back that Google were retiring their Powermeter service so I’m still on the lookout for a replacement service (or building something myself).

After a bit of research I discovered CurrentCost are already feeding the energy consumption and temperature to pachube. There is a nice little pachube app which utilizes google’s charting ability:

You can find your feed_id in the http://my.currentcost.com dashboard (on the right side in the devices section):

Unfortunately only a month’s data is currently retained (this may be a limitation with the free pachube account being used to post the monitor data?) and I really want years of data so I can compare same time last year figures etc. The search continues…

I also stumbled across the Home Automation Hub: http://www.homeautomationhub.com/ which is an open source project which involves ref lashing a Livebox to interact with various devices (including the CurrentCost energy monitor). I really like the idea of this as there’s so much more potential for two-way communication and other applications (linking in nicely with some of my other long term goals) but at the moment I’m going to shy away from it on account of the language being new to me and the apparent lack of current community support.

Expect another update once the NetSmart device comes through and potentially after a start logging gas consumption!

L

Since hooking up my Current Cost Bridge last week the portal is nicely capturing and graphing data:

Unfortunately Google Powermeter appears to have gaps (whether this is a problem at their end or the Current Cost end I’m unsure). It seems a lot of others are reporting the same thing:

I’m still considering hacking the device to post to my own site/script(s) but until I have the time I’ll continue to use Current Cost & Google Powermeter. It would also be nice to see google capturing the temperature.

No news on stock of the individual appliance monitors yet either- and I have my doubts either Current Cost or Google will capture this data (which will further encourage me to hack the device with my own custom scripts). Similarly if/when I find a way to capture water/gas consumption.

Whilst doing some research I came across the Navetas Smart Hub which is in a completely different league. Follow the link to view demos/videos etc but what makes it stand out from the crowd in my eyes:

  • Ability to meter all utilities (Electric, Gas, Water)
  • Non-intrusive appliance monitoring (as I read it, the ability to determine how much energy each of your devices are using without having to hook them up to any form of individual appliance monitor- apparently this can be achieved as all devices have a form of unique signature)

I’d love to know more about this but it sounds like it’s only available through certain energy providers? I’ve sent Navetas a message, see if they get back to me.

I’ll try and keep you posted- but don’t be surprised if other projects take my focus away from this a little.

L

A lot smaller than I thought it’d be! I did have to register at http://my.currentcost.com to get the data to Google Powermeter but there’s no fee and adding the device was a doddle!

L

Further to my post earlier today i’ve found that Current Cost will shortly be offering IAMs (Individual Appliance Monitors) which look to start at around £15.00 (or in packs of 3, starting at £30) – http://www.electricity-monitor.com/wireless-energy-monitors-current-cost-c-37_57.html – with a maximum of 9 attached to a single EnviR. I really like the idea of trying to hook one of these up in each room then maybe have a dedicated one for the A/V cabinet, server rack, and maybe a few of the kitchen appliances?

I eagerly await delivery of the Current Cost Bridge so I can find out if it will indeed feed Google Powermeter and then see if it will pass details of the inidividual appliances or only the total.

I came across a few other sites that i’ll be doing quite a bit of reading on over the coming days:
http://www.smarthome.com/ – US store but hopefully i’ll find some products on there which are available over here or at least get me on the right track
http://john.crouchley.com/blog/archives/722 – Some info about hacking the Current Cost Bridge
http://john.crouchley.com/blog/archives/345 – Some info about hacking the Current Cost to read gas usage
http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/powermeter?hl=en – The Google Powermeter discussion/help forum

After moving over to EON and getting a free Current Cost EnviR Black – The Smart-R Monitor i’ve hopefully become more aware of my power usage and, as a result become more “green”.

Their monitor is pretty good, giving current usage, previous 1day, previous 7days and previous 30days. But, in order to get a more detailed breakdown and analyze the data it is necessary to connect the monitor via USB to a pc and download the information. I want real-time access to the data without having to download it… and even more so, when i’m out of the house!

So after some research I found google (amongst the myriad of other services) offer a service: http://www.google.com/powermeter/ which provides some awesome features!

The google site offered a list of compatible devices/services http://www.google.com/powermeter/about/partners.html and the CurrentCost device was listed! But as it only has a serial port for connecting to a PC I was curious how to get the data streaming directly to google? A bit of research and I found a bridging devices to connect directly to my router: Current Cost “Bridge” Device CCPMB – I’m not yet 100% sure whether it can be linked directly in to the google service or if a CurrentCost subscription is necessary but i’ve ordered the device and will update once it arrives!

Now a wonder if anything similar is available for gas/water etc? I guess the problem is metering the usage?

L

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