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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
Which feeds nicely to pvoutput.org.
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.
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.
I just don’t know how to get them talking… yet!