Tracking Your Energy Use: Page 4 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

The PowerCost Monitor

Blue Line Innovations’ PowerCost Monitor can be installed by homeowners—an electrician is not required—since the sensing unit attaches to the outside of the electric meter. The base model includes the sensor and display.

A pulse sensor on the meter communicates wirelessly, using your home Wi-Fi, to the display unit. For the basic BLI-28000, the information is only viewable on the display provided. To view your household’s real-time electricity usage online or to store and analyze data over time, you’ll need to choose from one of the third-party software offerings and need the PowerCost’s Wi-Fi bridge or gateway. These Wi-Fi accessories require a 120 VAC power supply, while the sensor units and displays operate on batteries.

The sensor unit may not be compatible with your electric meter—check compatibility on the Blue Line website before purchasing. The base unit will keep a cumulative total, as well as show real-time, instantaneous demand. The user programs in the utility rates so that the display can report the cost of electricity consumed. Alone, the PowerCost does not offer any control features, but some models can be synced with the Iris automated control system, enabling you to incorporate usage information into a home automation platform.

The Energy Detective (TED)

Energy Inc.’s basic TED 5000, will monitor total household electricity consumption and show it on a small display. On the display, you can toggle through instantaneous power (kW), cost per hour, recent use, monthly use to-date, and you can compare to a monthly projection.

TED uses one or more measuring transmitting units (MTUs) for each set of CTs, and up to four circuits can be monitored. The MTU resides in the electrical panel being monitored and requires a 120 VAC power supply. The MTU transmits a signal over the household wiring to the gateway and/or the display. If you prefer to view graphical information on a computer screen, you can forgo the display. Setup requires downloading Energy Inc.’s proprietary Footprints software and configuring your gateway much like another device on your network. For online viewing and smartphones, several third-party applications exist. 

TED can monitor on-site renewable energy generation as one of its data inputs. While not revenue-grade monitoring, it may be sufficient for keeping informal tabs on your electricity consumed and generated.

Installers report that it is not unusual to spend time troubleshooting the signal over the power line, since other electronic devices in the home can interfere with TED’s signal. TED can be purchased from the website directly, or through distribution channels.

Wattvision

Wattvision is easy to install, but it only measures total electricity consumption—not other circuits or RE-system generation. With a pulse sensor installed at the electric meter, it does not require an electrician to install. You just select the correct sensor based on your existing utility meter technology, brand, and layout. The sensor is connected via 50 feet of wire to a Wi-Fi gateway, which requires a 120 VAC receptacle.

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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