Tag Archive: Gas


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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Thanks to ADH Heating Services I now have jeenodes counting pulses from my mains cold water supply:


Boiler hot water outlet:


And gas meter:


The pulses are being pulled into DomotiGa:

Which allows me to graph with RRDTool:

I also created my own module for DomotiGa to hook up to my custom 433Mhz RF receiving jeenode- I now have my window/door sensors (along with a bunch of rogue devices?) appearing:


I’m not best sure how to tackle the fact that the devices don’t issue an idle command when the alert has finished (i.e. when the door is closed or the fire is put out?). I’m considering trying out the built in DomotiGa feature to revert the values after 1minute or so (the smoke alarm should continue to send data whilst the alarm is being sounded so this shouldn’t be a problem).

I’m still troubleshooting a few problems- for example USB serial ports failing to open with error: "Cannot open serial port (#5)":

And some jeenodes going offline. Hopefully I will have more time to look into this later in the week.

L

Just logged in to see a few improvements / updates to the http://my.currentcost.com dashboard. Compare daily usage for week periods:

Record gas & water consumption (not tried these yet):

And finally- record consumption cost (to the nearest penny isn’t going to give very accurate cost estimates but it helps):

Meanwhile Enio (http://www.enio.co.uk) has now been down for over a week.

L

Home Automation Progress

An update since last week.

I decided I’d like to keep my CurrentCost netsmart pro posting electricity consumption data to pachube so spliced into the cable to see if I could pickup on the serial data using my home automation hub without disrupting communication between the enviR (CC128) and the bridge.

Taking the leftmost pin of the two connectors with the notch/clip facing downwards the pins are joined as so:

RJ45 -> RJ11
1 -> 1 (Yellow)
4 -> 2 (White)
7 -> 3 (Blue)
8 -> (White)

Rather annoying that they used white for 2 of the cores! On my USB serial cable for the enviR the pinout was as so:

RJ45
4 (Red) -> Spliced into White (pin2)
7 (Green) -> Spliced into Blue
8 (Yellow) -> Spliced into White (pin8)

After hooking the bridge, enviR and usb up to the laptop I could see data coming in over through the serial port- voila!

I punched the CurrentCost details into the hah web interface:

Then configured the extra data streams to pachube:

Just waiting for a few hours for some data but it appears to be flowing in nicely:

<eeml xmlns="http://www.eeml.org/xsd/005"xmlns:xsi="http://www.w3.org/2001/XMLSchema-instance"xsi:schemaLocation="http://www.eeml.org/xsd/005 http://www.eeml.org/xsd/005/005.xsd" version="5"><environment><data id="2"><tag>Light</tag><value>0.00</value></data><data id="3"><tag>Humidity</tag><value>0.00</value></data><data id="1"><tag>Temperature</tag><value>0.00</value></data><data id="13"><tag>CCIAM3</tag><value>44.00</value></data><data id="12"><tag>CCIAM2</tag><value>157.00</value></data><data id="11"><tag>CCIAM1</tag><value>5.00</value></data><data id="15"><tag>CCIAM5</tag><value>0.00</value></data><data id="14"><tag>CCIAM4</tag><value>82.00</value></data><data id="10"><tag>CCTotal</tag><value>415.00</value></data><data id="16"><tag>CCIAM6</tag><value>0.00</value></data></environment></eeml>

I took delivery of the two water meters today- just waiting for a friend to help me fit them and my additional jeenodes to arrives so I can get the data into the hah!

The crazy looking squid thing is the cheapest usb hub I could find to allow me to plug both the jeelink and currentcost enviR into the hah at the same time- hideous but does the job :)

L

Current Cost OptiSmart

My OptiSmart arrived this afternoon from Current Cost and I immediately dismantled it :)

Fairly amusing to see how tiny the circuitry was, and that the batteries are taking up 80% of the space inside the device!

The board itself looks pretty straight forward (although my knowledge is pretty limited in this area). I can see the RF module and a PIC chip with what appears to be a header available for reflashing?

My gas meter has an RJ11 connector with 2 wires staying open about 80% of the dial on the meter then closing for the remaining 20%. I hoped to replace the standard sensor with a straight forward RJ11 cable.

I spliced into the cable which comes with the OptiSmart (to read the blinking LED from newer meters) but couldn’t determine what each of the 4 wires in the sensor cable was doing. *EDIT* Upon further investigation, it appears the green wire is GND and red is +3V. Shorting any combination of them didn’t seem to count a pulse on the EnviR display so it doesn’t look like I can connect it to my gas meter as simply as I was hoping. *EDIT* Cracked it :) Join the green and brown wires then place the reed switch between the red and black wires- voila!

I need to adjust it to convert from cubic feet of gas consumed to the equivalent watts but then i’m all set!

I will likely try more experimenting tomorrow- worst case scenario I guess I could fashion a circuit which blinks an led on the opening or closing of the RJ11 connection but it seems a bit mad to need to go that route!

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

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