Tracking Your Energy Use: Page 2 of 5

With Home Monitoring Systems
Intermediate

Inside this Article

Current transducer
Current transducers (CTs) measure electrical current using the magnetic field that’s created by electrons flowing through the wires.
Using a home energy monitor
With some practice with your home energy monitor, you’ll be able to differentiate individual loads and assess their contribution to your home’s total energy use.
Powerhouse Dynamics’ eMonitor gateway
Powerhouse Dynamics’ eMonitor gateway
Powerhouse Dynamics’ eMonitor base unit
Powerhouse Dynamics’ eMonitor base unit
Powerhouse Dynamics’ eMonitor app on a smartphone
Powerhouse Dynamics’ eMonitor app on a smartphone
eGauge monitoring kit
eGauge monitoring kit components
Current Cost’s EnviR standard monitoring kit
Current Cost’s EnviR standard monitoring kit
Individual appliance monitors
Individual appliance monitors (IAMs) are plug-based sensors that monitor electricity usage of individual 120 VAC appliances
Locus Energy's LGate electricity meter
Locus Energy's LGate electricity meter
Locus Energy's LGate using CT inputs
Locus Energy's LGate using CT inputs
The OWL monitoring devices
The OWL devices are designed to monitor only one circuit, usually the incoming wires to the main electrical panel.
The OWL Intuition series
The OWL Intuition series (which may not yet be available in North America) allows users to view information via any Internet-connected computer or by using a smartphone via the OWL app.
Blue Line Innovations’ PowerCost Monitor kit
Blue Line Innovations’ PowerCost Monitor
Blue Line Innovations’ PowerCost Monitor's sensing unit
Blue Line Innovations’ PowerCost Monitor the sensing unit attaches to the outside of the electric meter.
Energy Inc.’s basic TED 5000 display
Energy Inc.’s basic TED 5000, will monitor total household electricity consumption and show it on a small display.
TED's measuring transmitting units
TED uses one or more measuring transmitting units (MTUs) for each set of CTs, and up to four circuits can be monitored.
Wattvision monitoring has a pulse sensor installed at the electric meter.
Wattvision monitoring has a pulse sensor installed at the electric meter.
Wattvision's monitoring kit
Wattvision's monitoring sensor is connected via 50 feet of wire to a Wi-Fi gateway, which requires a 120 VAC receptacle.
Wattvision display on a smartphone
Wattvision display on a smartphone
eGauge monitoring installed in a electrical panel
If you’re not comfortable with digging into your electrical panel to install a monitoring system, consider hiring a licensed electrician.
Current transducer
Using a home energy monitor
Powerhouse Dynamics’ eMonitor gateway
Powerhouse Dynamics’ eMonitor base unit
Powerhouse Dynamics’ eMonitor app on a smartphone
eGauge monitoring kit
Current Cost’s EnviR standard monitoring kit
Individual appliance monitors
Locus Energy's LGate electricity meter
Locus Energy's LGate using CT inputs
The OWL monitoring devices
The OWL Intuition series
Blue Line Innovations’ PowerCost Monitor kit
Blue Line Innovations’ PowerCost Monitor's sensing unit
Energy Inc.’s basic TED 5000 display
TED's measuring transmitting units
Wattvision monitoring has a pulse sensor installed at the electric meter.
Wattvision's monitoring kit
Wattvision display on a smartphone
eGauge monitoring installed in a electrical panel

eMonitor

Powerhouse Dynamics’ eMonitor uses CTs and a base unit installed in the electrical panel to collect data. The base unit communicates with the eMonitor Gateway, which in turn sends the data to off-site third-party servers over the home’s broadband connection. Users can view real-time usage information from up to 42 circuits wherever there is an Internet connection.

The basic model, the eMonitor 4-14, comes with the equipment to monitor total building electricity consumption, as well as usage in 12 additional circuits. The eMonitor 4-24 and 4-44 can handle 22 and 42 total circuits with the addition of expansion pods, additional CTs, and additional monitoring services. In all units, two of the circuits are reserved for monitoring the main electrical service entering the building.

The base unit needs a 15 A dedicated circuit, though these products consume only 3 to 10 W to operate. In addition to the installation of the base unit, CTs, and the communication gateway, setup requires inputting circuit descriptions via a computer connection. Further configuration and registration allow the opportunity to confirm that communication is operating as intended and that all circuit labels were input correctly.

There is no local display. To view data and graphs, an Internet connection is required. The base unit will store data for several days in the event of loss of connectivity to the host server.

The eMonitor also offers remote control of compatible, Wi-Fi supported, third-party thermostats. If you forgot to turn the air-conditioning off before you left home, you can do this with a smartphone app—from anywhere. In the works is a plug-load-level control device that will allow remote-control of various appliances, such as a computer or window unit air conditioner.

The eMonitor offers some unique features. User-programmable alerts can help inform you about potentially worrisome conditions, such as a sump pump failure. These messages can be sent by email or text message to your smartphone. Apps for the iPhone and iPad allow viewing real-time operation and interface with the control features. The number of circuits that can be monitored makes the eMonitor appropriate for large homes and small businesses.

The eMonitor 4 is available through a dealer network or online retailers. A two-year monitoring service contract is required.

eGauge

Like the eMonitor, the eGauge has the ability to monitor multiple circuits. However, the eGauge monitor does not require a data monitoring contract. The information resides locally, rather than remotely on an outside web server.

The CTs are installed inside the electrical panel where the monitored circuits originate, so some electrical skills are needed to safely install it. The eGauge main unit, which also resides in the electrical panel or immediately adjacent to it, can accommodate input from up to 12 CTs. The main unit needs a 240 VAC, 15 A power supply which is supplied from within the panel being monitored. To view the data, the main unit is connected to your local network and computer, via Ethernet cable, or a HomePlug accessory or another variety of Wi-Fi adapter. While the eGauge data lives locally, it also can be viewed online. The eGauge doesn’t offer a smartphone app, but its data screen can be viewed with any web browser.

The eGauge does not include control features. The setup and monitoring interface are touted as intuitive and straightforward.

Comments (7)

fastbike's picture

Another great product is the Open Energy Monitor. This uses open source hardware and software and full details are at http://openenergymonitor.org/emon/
I am running one here on a three phase installation.

john gorman's picture

We have a solution that listens to Cent-a-meter and OWL wireless meters every 60 seconds (and a growing list of solar grid-connect inverters) and charts it on the web. This is all using open-source software, so anyone can set up a system. It's all at: http://www.solarnetwork.net/

Justine Sanchez's picture

Hi John,
Thanks for your comment and the correction. Indeed the display does need to be plugged in, and we will adjust that text.

Justine Sanchez
Home Power Magazine

Anonymous _2267's picture

I did buy the EnviR. The transmitter comes with batteries but the display uses no batteries at all and runs only on the wall wart supplied. The HP article erroneously states that the display runs on batteries. The transmitter is made to install in a breaker box if outside and I would think it would diminish the signal strength. My breaker box is inside so I installed the transmitter on the wall bringing the CT leads through a knockout hole.

The transmitter sends out a data pulse every 10 seconds so if you have an appliance that cycles on/off the synchrony of the data pulse and on time of the appliance could be out of wack so that a long observation would be required to notice the on effect of the appliance.
John Nelson Nucla, CO

Anonymous _2267's picture

After reading the article, I was interested in "The Owl" monitoring system. Upon going to there website ( in the UK ) I find that the pictured Owl ( CM119) is not listed and replaced by the Owl micro
+. However, they list having in the package only one CT which to me would allow only monitoring of one phase of a 240 volt ( read half your circuits ), or monitor only one branch circuit. You need two CT's to monitor both hot 240v lines and get the full picture of the power going through your breaker box. HP article is misleading in saying the ".......incoming wires to the main electrical panel"

John Nelson, Nucla, CO

Joe Schwartz's picture

Hello, John, Thanks for your comment.

The description for the OWL products mentions that "The OWL devices are designed to monitor only one circuit..." If you're planning on monitoring more than one circuit, there are several good options covered in the article.

Joe, editor

Justine Sanchez's picture

Hi John,
thanks for your comment. And yes this manufacturer is based out of the UK, however if you go to their website they list their USA distributor as Precision Data Systems: http://www.pdsmn.com/
Then if you go to their website and click on Products and Buy Now...you are lead to Amazon, who does offer the version with 2 CTs. Hope this helps!
Best,
Justine Sanchez
Home Power Magazine

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