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Community and Q&A

Power metering devices

davidmeiland | Posted in Energy Efficiency and Durability on

Anyone here using a whole-house power metering device, like a TED or similar? I’m debating buying one of these (looks to be a $200-300 expense) and using it for a while at my house, in combination with Google PowerMeter. I’m already fairly clear on what most of our loads are, so the real use would be setting this up at customers’ homes and monitoring either the whole-house load or possibly specific items like heating appliances or hot tubs. I probably have an endless supply of folks who could benefit from knowing where the electricity is going. I already use a couple of Watts Up plug load meters but these don’t handle 240v loads.

Any feedback on these, and any recs for specific hardware?

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  1. albertrooks | | #1

    Hi David,

    You may be aware of this, but there was an excellent 3 part podcast on this at the green architects lounge here on GBA. It did talk about all of the levels of monitoring your thinking about with some product specifics.

    Here is a link:

    Best of luck.

  2. v5PHTcyPPU | | #2

    I've been monitoring my household electricity use with TED for about two years now. Nothing has taught me more about where my household energy goes.

    I have a pretty unique setup that wouldn't be easy to replicate because it uses software I put together myself in order to get the maximum information out of TED. Here's the result:

    In case you're interested in the technical details, I monitor the TED with a $100 plug computer running Linux (a SheevaPlug, which draws only 5 watts). I use collectd to poll TED every second for power and energy used by my house and rrdtool to graph the results. The plug computer also runs a web server so I can access the graphs from anywhere.

    You could do something similar with a TED 5000 and PowerMeter except you wouldn't get the 1 second time resolution that I do. I'm not sure exactly what the PowerMeter resolution is, but it's definitely not second by second. The downside of lower resolution is that it makes it harder to identify which appliance is using the electricity. With my setup, I can easily identify each major energy sink in my house by the profile of its energy use (e.g., well pump, refrigerator, furnace, dryer, etc.). I know when it comes on, when it goes off, and how much electricity it uses.

    I can also tell when my house is mis-behaving. I have discovered maintenance problems in my washing machine, furnace, and plumbing by monitoring my electricity. I can also check to make sure everything is turned off before going to sleep by checking my baseload usage (80 watts for the whole house).

    A TED is an invaluable addition to any household interested in reducing energy. Not everyone has the skill to interpret what it reveals but in the right hands it provides crucial feedback on the operation of a house, feedback that you can't get in any other way.

    Energy Metrics

  3. bHqUcamKme | | #3

    I coordinate our utility's energy efficiency program, so I'm always messing around with devices like this. Right now I use a device called an Envi, made by Current Cost. It does a nice job, and can interface with Google Power Meter so you can monitor usage via the web. Soon I will be experimenting with a new system called "EnergyHub" that will actually talk to my wireless smart meter, and allow me to control smart power strips and outlets.

  4. davidmeiland | | #4

    Thanks to all for the helpful comments. I had not seen the Lounge posts on this topic.

    Albert, are you somewhere in the Seattle area? Just curious. I'm in San Juan County.

  5. albertrooks | | #5

    Hi David,

    Yes... A bit south of you in Olympia Washington. Greeting from your state capitol!

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