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Real-time energy monitoring in Canberra?

By Dacquiri - 24 July 2012 26

Having just received my jaw-dropping gas and electricity bills for the past quarter, I’m interested in those devices that give you real-time feedback about how much energy (let’s just worry about electricity for the moment) you’re using and what it’s costing you.

Same thing could presumably be achieved if the meters were inside the house, but they’re not.

Not interested in appliance-specific devices, but one that monitors total electricity use.

The internet is full of advertisements for various products, so I wondered if anyone had any actual (or ACTEWal?!) experience of these things.

What’s Your opinion?


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26 Responses to
Real-time energy monitoring in Canberra?
LSWCHP 8:08 pm 24 Jul 12

I’ve just had a similar sticker shock, and I was going to write an almost identical post!

We have an all-electric household, apart from our fireplace. We do heating, cooling, cooking, hot water electrically, as well as televisions, guitar amps, computers, phone chargers etc. The place is also about 30 years old with lots of exposed glass. Great views, but not so good for heating in winter. The first thing I thought when I walked into the place was “This would cost a lot to heat”. We also have two adults plus up to four teenagers coming and going.

Anyway, the electricity bill that arrived today said we’re using around 80 kWh per day, which is about 2.5 times “other households in our area”.

Total charge for the quarter was about $1250 or around $14 per day.

Does anyone else have recent cost figures? I thought we were using a lot of electricity, but 2.5 times other households is a helluva lot.

OpenYourMind 2:33 pm 24 Jul 12

I’ve got one that plugs into a socket and measures current drawn on the particular powerpoint. Using a bit of diligence, I managed to narrow down the items in my house that are using heaps of power. Items on standby can nibble away at your consumption.

pirate_taco 2:10 pm 24 Jul 12

patrick_keogh said :

frontrow said :

Why would such a device ever need to be battery powered rather than plugging into the mains?

No, for the whole of house monitoring there are two bits. One goes in your meter box and clamps to the main supply wires. It transmits using wireless to another bit which is the display and PC interface.

The bit in the meter box is battery powered because there are typically no powerpoints there 🙂 The other bit is typically mains powered.

The efergy model I have has AA batteries in the transmitter, and AAA batteries in the receiver.

kmaftoum 1:58 pm 24 Jul 12

I’ve generally used the ‘appliance’ style meters so I can measure the individual appliances/rooms, which have proven to be quite useful, even the cheap Jaycar ones.

I did once have a Cent-A-Meter but never got around to getting it installed.

What would be nice is if ACTEW would allow access to the real-time data via their new smartmeters somehow….

Karl Maftoum
Labor Candidate for Brindabella
http://www.karlmaftoum.com

Grrrr 1:31 pm 24 Jul 12

The reading from sensors that clip around cables (AKA Clamp Meters) vary from pretty good to wildly inaccurate.

I know you want a display to carry around inside, but don’t forget that ACTEW’s meter tells you accurately how much you’ve used – and therefore, if you compare readings across time, how much you’re using.. If you have a new “smart meter” it might show consumption rate as well as total. (Analogue meter at my place still..)

patrick_keogh 1:17 pm 24 Jul 12

Tony said :

http://www.smartnow.com.au/

The problem with it is you only get 1 days graph at a time. Id like to see 1 day, 1 week, 1month, 1year, 5 year, 10 year graphs.

That was why I wrote my own software.

patrick_keogh 1:16 pm 24 Jul 12

frontrow said :

Why would such a device ever need to be battery powered rather than plugging into the mains?

No, for the whole of house monitoring there are two bits. One goes in your meter box and clamps to the main supply wires. It transmits using wireless to another bit which is the display and PC interface.

The bit in the meter box is battery powered because there are typically no powerpoints there 🙂 The other bit is typically mains powered.

arescarti42 12:42 pm 24 Jul 12

frontrow said :

Why would such a device ever need to be battery powered rather than plugging into the mains?

Ostensibly so you can walk around the house with it and watch what happens when you do things like turn the dryer on.

frontrow 12:33 pm 24 Jul 12

Why would such a device ever need to be battery powered rather than plugging into the mains?

Tony 12:33 pm 24 Jul 12

http://www.smartnow.com.au/

I have one of these and its pretty good.
I also have the bridge device which you can buy from the store so I can access the data on their dashboard. The problem with it is you only get 1 days graph at a time. Id like to see 1 day, 1 week, 1month, 1year, 5 year, 10 year graphs.

My father also has one and he has it monitoring with total power usage, and total power produced from his 2k solar array.

Holden Caulfield 12:17 pm 24 Jul 12

I had an efergy, but I burnt it.

Special G 10:59 am 24 Jul 12

We have an Efergy meter. Don’t pay much attention to it now although when we first got it we adapted some of our habits and looked at some of our older appliances (fridge 15years old) and either stopped using them (dryer) or replaced (fridge). We were able to drop our power usage by half.

Good luck with it.

pirate_taco 10:49 am 24 Jul 12

I also have an efergy whole house monitor, and I also have problems with it picking up the signal within a normal house, and with batteries running flat (why would you build these with AAA size batteries?)
The real time accuracy of the monitor is also dubious.

patrick_keogh 10:37 am 24 Jul 12

I have a whole-house wireless electricity monitoring gizmo that I bought at Jaycar. It has multiple channels so I can monitor normal electricity and my solar power generation, or you could monitor off-peak or whatever. It has a computer interface so you can read the data and display it on your PC. I wrote an application that stores the data in a Google Docs database so I can do time series analysis just using a web browser.

arescarti42 10:27 am 24 Jul 12

I had an efergy whole house monitor where I last lived. It was useful, but my power box was on the far side of a metal garage some distance from the house (rural property), and the indoor display regularly had trouble picking up the signal. I suppose it would be less of an issue in a suburban setting. The other thing that annoyed me was the batteries in it seemed to run down fairly quickly.

The best one I ever had was installed by Country Energy, the indoor display was mains powered and it received the signal from the power box over the power line, sadly they discontinued whatever trial it was part of.

I now live in a unit and have made a habit of reading the gas and power meters whenever I think of it and putting the data in to an excel spreadsheet. Not as good as a real-time monitor, but a lot better than getting a bill 4 times a year. I average about $4.6 a day in gas and electricity.

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