Electricity monitor

Hi all! We need help picking out an electricity monitor so we can save energy/money. Also, if we know how much energy we use we can try to offset our emissions!

I made a Google Sheet here describing a few different options I found, their pros/cons, and their costs. Please comment below with suggestions, insight, expertise, etc. I am not an expert on utilities by any means so help would be appreciated!

Thank you very much!!!

Here is the google sheet:

It seems there are two main categories of electricity monitors:

  1. Attached to breaker board, measures total electricity used (and some can distinguish among appliances)
  2. Attached to plug, measures electricity required by whatever is plugged in there

The “Sense” product is my favorite because it measures total electricity used but can distinguish among appliances. It is a bit pricey (~$300) but I don’t think that is unreasonable given its sophistication. It would easily allow us to see which tools/appliances are the most costly. https://sense.com/product.html

I’d suggest using TA12-100 paired with ESP8266 chips. It’s cheap and expandable.

I took a look at https://sense.com… seems pretty cool. The creator was interviewed on this episode of The Amp Hour podcast: https://theamphour.com/371-an-interview-with-joe-bamberg/.

So basically I agree with @Erica_Gardner, I think it’s worth it.

So as someone who has been using a sense for about two years now, I don’t really think it would work well for the type of electric use that would be happening at the generator. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a pretty amazing piece of technology, but it has a few weaknesses in my opinion. It is really good at measuring overall power usage, but in my experience it isn’t that great at individual item power measurement. This is because they are using usage patterns to try to detect individual items through just two measurement probes on the mains coming into the electric panel. So for me it has been great at detecting how mush power things like the hot water heater, dishwasher, and clothes dryer are using. However, it has a hard time distinguishing motors that use similar amounts of power (like my table saw, and mitre saw). and for power usage that it can’t place into patterns it just give you a great big unknown bucket. There is also no way to train it on your own. So, you can’t say turn on a device and then tell it that a certain device is running to help it recognize a device. Device recognition is a black box that they handle completely on their own.

I had high hopes for the sense when I purchased one a couple years ago, but I have found that there individual device detection is fairly unreliable.

I like this idea. I would be happy to help lead a project to create a design for individual power monitors and for a system to collect the data. I currently have a Thingsboard server running at my house that collects data from a few IoT devices. Once we have a design and system in place, I would also be happy to run a workshop where interested members could help us make a bunch of the sensors and hook them up.

This could be interesting - “make a power monitor in a day” and make like 12 of them or whatever. It sounds like you’re the person to do it if we go that way!

In terms of achieving outcomes - Do we know that we need device-level monitoring? And is it worth the cost and trade-off in complexity, as well as the potential of only capturing some percentage of the total energy usage if every single outlet in both buildings is not equipped with a device? (vs one device which captures 100% of energy usage but does not distinguish between saws)

Erica would know better than I what data is needed for this initiative.

… if we do go in this direction, I would gladly collaborate with you on it. Too bad about sense.com the idea seems so cool! They have OTA updates so maybe it will get better over time.

Anyway, I do a lot of IoT as well. Measuring A/C power consumption with reactive and reluctant loads is somewhat challenging / interesting too IIRC. I imagine, you need to sample >120 samples/sec to have a shot at an accurate calculation… and then math it down in order to report to the internet. Anyway let’s chat sometime.

Thanks for the review, Jason!!!

So for offsetting the carbon footprint, we would need to know our total expenditures. But Elliot can we just get that from the landlords or from a meter?

We could figure out what is using the most energy if we make individual monitors, but yeah if we don’t equip every outlet it might not be as useful. Although people might want to know how much their equipment of choice uses?

I think the workshop idea is great! How much would it cost per unit?

(PS I will literally be in the jungle until 4/9 so I won’t be able to contribute for a while)

Hi all - I think it would be good to meet in person to discuss the pros/cons of the different options. Sending out an email with a doodle poll!

http://whenisgood.net/e4rej5h Doodle poll here! @Jason_Criss @Dekwan_Perry @Elliot_Wells @vicatcu