Energy Monitoring

In order to monitor the electricity consumption of my home, I use an AlertMe SmartEnergy kit.  This consists of a battery powered SmartMeter reader and a mains powered SmartHub. The SmartMeter reader is a current clamp, which clips onto the electricity input to my home within my circuit breaker box. This clamp calculates the flow of electricity through the wire by measuring the magnetic field surrounding it, and therefore doesn't need to physically break the circuit. The current clamp sends second-by-second readings of my home's power demand to the SmartHub via a ZigBee wireless network. The hub is attached to my router via an Ethernet cable, which allows it to upload my electricity data to AlertMe's cloud storage.

My AlertMe SmartMeter reader.

My PhD has built up my interest in non-intrusive appliance monitoring; software which calculates appliance-level energy feedback using only home-level energy data. Although AlertMe don't offer such a service, this is where PlotWatt, a cloud-based software company, comes in. To make use of PlotWatt's appliance-level analysis, I needed to transfer my data from AlertMe's data cloud to PlotWatt's data cloud. To do so, I set up my Raspberry Pi to periodically download my data from AlertMe and upload it to PlotWatt. I've since open-sourced the project to allow anyone to use or modify my code. This software and PlotWatt's algorithms have allowed me to find out how much money I spend keeping each appliance running using PlotWatt's online dashboard.

My Raspberry Pi.

A breakdown of my household's monthly energy costs is available at plotwatt.com. However, even enthusiasts like myself don't check this daily. Therefore, I wanted an energy display from which I could pick up this information as I walked past. To create such a display, I set up an old monitor attached to my Raspberry Pi, which displays the dashboard from plotwatt.com.

My home energy monitoring system.

As useful as this energy display is, it would be a real waste of energy to leave it on 24 hours a day. To avoid this, I've implemented a crude occupancy detection system, which guesses whether I'm both at home and awake based on the house's real-time power demand. It then uses this estimation of occupancy to turn the screen on and off using an AlertMe Smart Plug.