Counting the number of times an appliance was switched on ..#2

Thread Starter

iconoclasthero

Joined Jan 15, 2024
14
Here's my task:

The sump pump in the house I am working on has a 3-gallon discharge each time the SPST float (i.e., no leaking current) is raised to trigger.
I want a simple count of times that SPST is triggered.
I require no other information about the system whatever and either a clamp or a plug-through solution would be acceptable.

Would the OP please post a follow-up with any solution developed?
 

vu2nan

Joined Sep 11, 2014
348
An off-the-shelf electromagnetic digit-wheel counter, with the appropriate coil voltage, should serve the purpose.

201906210273204.jpg

It is to be connected in parallel with the pump motor.

Nandu.
 

AnalogKid

Joined Aug 1, 2013
11,192
To expand on Nandu's post - if the counter you can find or afford has a low voltage input, it can be triggered by wiring a small wall-wart power supply with the appropriate output in parallel with the motor.

That electro-mechanical type of counter is a classic, but electronic ones on ebay are way less money. However, they do require a separate, continuous power source.

ak
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
19,337
A simple electric clock of the mains powered type, not electronic but a mechanical one with hands that point at time, can be used to record the total pump running time. That will cost less than the counter, and it will give a more accurate report of the time spent pumping out water.
 

Thread Starter

iconoclasthero

Joined Jan 15, 2024
14
I ended up purchasing one of these https://www.amazon.com/dp/B016U4IZ6K thinking that the Hall sensor could pick up the EM pulse from either the coil of power cord or the motor directly. Testing it with a 12 VDC battery. it didn't work by just putting the sensor in the power cord or near the pump, but what I did notice was that it incremented every time it was connected to the battery—great, problem solved, get rid of the sensor, connect to a DC adapter on a master/slave power supply with the pump as master, done.

But the meter doesn't increment with the slow start of the AC adapter, only with instant on, so as a side question I'm very curious about, could something be placed between the transformer and the meter to supply a full 12 VDC only once the transformer is able to do so?

A simple electric clock of the mains powered type, not electronic but a mechanical one with hands that point at time, can be used to record the total pump running time. That will cost less than the counter, and it will give a more accurate report of the time spent pumping out water.
Interesting, but the float should give a consistent average displacement per event. Something to think about.

As for the counters...

I was looking at this before I came back to this thread:
https://www.amazon.com/AC220V-AC110V-Electromagnetic-Counter-CSK5-YKW

I think that this is a solution that will work. First of all, it's AC-powered which means I don't need to f- around with a transformer, second, I should just be able to wire on a NEMA 1-15, plug it into the master/slave AC power supply and I'm done.

I'm curious about this, however: what happens if i wire this in series with the pump? [irrespective of NEC, other safety concerns, etc.] i.e., if one end of that meter is connected to the hot side of a 120 VAC 15 A circuit and the other end of that meter is connected to the hot blade of the 5-15P that's on it (while the neutral blade is connected to the neutral side of the same 120 VAC circuit mentioned above. My theory is that the pump is going to draw a ton of power through the meter and since the meter is not designed to pull >10 A through it, the "AC 2.5 VA" meter might be fried even if this is true:
"A half horsepower sump pump draws about 5 amps when running, but can draw 15 amps for a few seconds when starting. The startup draw can be 1.5 to 2 times the continuous draw, so a 1/2 hp sump pump can consume up to 900+ watts, or roughly 7.8 amps. A 15 amp breaker usually works for a 1/2 hp sump pump, but some recommend using a 20 amp breaker and 12 AWG wire for new installations..."

There is this:
https://www.amazon.com/Digital-Traffic-Counter-Electrical-Totalizer/dp/B0C1C8H474
but I don't think it does what I want it to do...i.e., it requires a switch to be closed as opposed to an electric pulse like above. It is nice that it is electronic?
 

Thread Starter

iconoclasthero

Joined Jan 15, 2024
14
Realistically, I do not understand why there isn't a counter device [D] that exists such that I plug [D] into the 5-15R in the wall, plug the 5-15P from load [L] into the [D]'s 5-15R. [D]'s counter displays count of times [L] has drawn power through [D]. Count of number of times a load has turned on seems like a highly useful piece of information in many contexts.
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
19,337
Certainly there are counters that operate exactly like that. The more reliable ones are the electromechanical ones that have a constant duty coil. Some of them are intended for momentary pulse operation and would overheat if powered constantly. Counters like that have been around since at least the 1950's and may be available as surplus, or used, But they might not be available in the voltage that you require, so you may need to use an externaltransformer to provide the correct voltage.
 

Thread Starter

iconoclasthero

Joined Jan 15, 2024
14
Certainly there are counters that operate exactly like that. The more reliable ones are the electromechanical ones that have a constant duty coil. Some of them are intended for momentary pulse operation and would overheat if powered constantly. Counters like that have been around since at least the 1950's and may be available as surplus, or used, But they might not be available in the voltage that you require, so you may need to use an externaltransformer to provide the correct voltage.
No they do not exist...or at least not that I can find. Sure, things like https://www.mcmaster.com/products/electromechanical-counters/ exist, but they all seem to require some amount of wiring and may or may not be for 120 VAC (as the NEMA 5-15 designation would imply). Again: plug [D] into wall with it's 5-15P, plug the load into [D] with the 5-15P on the load, [D] reports number of times load powered on.

Anyway, thank you for the reply, but it doesn't answer any of the questions I asked above.
 

AnalogKid

Joined Aug 1, 2013
11,192
I might have missed something, but, again, why not put a 115 Vac totalizer in parallel with the pump, as in post #2? This will count each time the control switch closes, independent of the load current, or even existence. Isn't that good enough?

If the pump has an attached line cord that plugs into a switched outlet, put a line cord on the totalizer and plug it and the pump into a multi-tap.

ak
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
19,337
OK, I see that the goal is a plug-and-play series connected counter. I have never seen one of those packages even advertised. To make it work with a hall-effect counter trigger you would need an arrangement to split the conductors of the power feed, and just sense one conductor. THAT could be a modified extension cord. OR purchase a line-splitting adapter made to use with a clamp-on ammeter. That may be the closest that you can get.
 

Thread Starter

iconoclasthero

Joined Jan 15, 2024
14
I might have missed something, but, again, why not put a 115 Vac totalizer in parallel with the pump, as in post #2? This will count each time the control switch closes, independent of the load current, or even existence. Isn't that good enough?

If the pump has an attached line cord that plugs into a switched outlet, put a line cord on the totalizer and plug it and the pump into a multi-tap.

ak
I'm not sure how to say this politely, but this is nowhere near enough information for me to use and the specific questions I asked are still things I need answers to. This is a common problem with message boards and I can't figure out how to get around it.

As for your idea, send me a link to one so I can have something to look at. Sure, "totalizer" means something, but I don't know enough to know what it is. Some specifications. Also, what's this deal about burning up a pulse meter if it's not designed to be on the entire time the pump will be on?

Further, how do I run this in parallel with the pump? I have to take the pump apart and wire this to the float switch? I really do not want to have to do that. The pump is in a wet hole in the basement floor, don't want to have to retrieve it. Again, what happens if I run it in series? Will it explode or is it just poor form?
 

Thread Starter

iconoclasthero

Joined Jan 15, 2024
14
To expand on Nandu's post - if the counter you can find or afford has a low voltage input, it can be triggered by wiring a small wall-wart power supply with the appropriate output in parallel with the motor.

That electro-mechanical type of counter is a classic, but electronic ones on ebay are way less money. However, they do require a separate, continuous power source.

ak
There are a lot of words here that I assume mean things but they don't mean much to me. E.g., I don't know what a small wart power supply is, or even what a small-watt power supply is in actual numerical terms. Are we talking about e.g., the 12 VDC power supply that came from an old Netgear router I used to test the meter as described above?

Incidentally, if I had some way to supply the 12 VDC once it hit a threshold as I asked in my other question, I would have a working solution right now.
 

Thread Starter

iconoclasthero

Joined Jan 15, 2024
14
OK, I see that the goal is a plug-and-play series connected counter. I have never seen one of those packages even advertised. To make it work with a hall-effect counter trigger you would need an arrangement to split the conductors of the power feed, and just sense one conductor. THAT could be a modified extension cord. OR purchase a line-splitting adapter made to use with a clamp-on ammeter. That may be the closest that you can get.
You're missing my point: [rhetorically] If we have "The Clapper," why hasn't someone introduced "The Counter?"
 

Thread Starter

iconoclasthero

Joined Jan 15, 2024
14
"I'm not sure how to say this politely, but this is nowhere near enough information for me to use and the specific questions I asked are still things I need answers to. This is a common problem with message boards and I can't figure out how to get around it."

To expand on this, quite simply, the answers on EM counters I have received are not complete enough for me to even do anything with so they've largely been ignored. The follow-up questions I've posted have been ignored and not addressed, so none of my questions have been answered. The respondents are offering good faith suggestions that [presumably] appear to solve the tituar question.

So basically, the OP and the respondents have been talking past each other and I don't know how to get the information I need to close this thread feeling like I've succeeded in learning what I need to/want to.

It is frustrating and I do not know how to ask better questions, ask them in ways that show that that is the information I am looking for, etc., Anyway, I still want to know how to count how many times my sump pump goes off and I am no closer than I was a month ago.
 

Thread Starter

iconoclasthero

Joined Jan 15, 2024
14
OK, I see that the goal is a plug-and-play series connected counter. I have never seen one of those packages even advertised. To make it work with a hall-effect counter trigger you would need an arrangement to split the conductors of the power feed, and just sense one conductor. THAT could be a modified extension cord. OR purchase a line-splitting adapter made to use with a clamp-on ammeter. That may be the closest that you can get.
Wait, buried in there is something that I think was unintentionally useful. What you're saying is that the meter and hall sensor that I have might work in the setup I have if I take the power cord and split out the conductors and then try to sense a coil of an isolated conductor? This would make a lot of sense insofar as making sure you have balanced loads in muitwire branch circuit, e.g., with 12-3 coming of a 2-pole 20 A breaker, i.e., the EM waves should effectively cancel each other out (or that's how I conceive of it anyway—this apparently also comes into play with NEC's rules against non-paralleling).

So the moral of the story here is that if I want this to work, I need to get some length of copper formed into a coil with the sensor in the middle of it that is fed by either the hot or the neutral of the line feeding the pump, but not both?
 

AnalogKid

Joined Aug 1, 2013
11,192
he pump is in a wet hole in the basement floor,
That is new information and completely changes the scope of available methods for a solution.

To be clear- the pump and the float switch are a single integrated unit or an assembly of some kind, and the whole thing is waterproof and lives at the bottom of the sump?

yes / no

If yes, then no. As in No, I know of no such in-line power monitor and counter. While it is common in industrial situations to count the number of times a device is activated, it almost always is done by monitoring the switch, not the actual device power.

Actually . . . There might be a power quality monitor from Dranetz or someone like that that would do what you want as a sub-set of much more complex capabilities, but those things are hundreds or thousands of dollars.

ak
 

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
19,337
OK, and certainly getting inside all of the submersible sump pumps that I have installed would be extremely involved if it could even be done.. So the TS needs a scheme to trigger on the current draw of the motor, while not dropping the voltage to the motor or being burned up. THAT is quite possible. Depending on the sensitivity of whatever device the TS has, a series connection with one side of the motor power feed wound around some steel core, such as a bolt, with a few turns of insulated wire, sized either #16 or #14, may produce the magnetic intensity required.
AT THIS POINT A WORDS OF CAUTION!! This scheme requires working with power mains voltages that are a hazard to the unknowing. Thus suitable precautions are required.
 

AnalogKid

Joined Aug 1, 2013
11,192
Earlier there was a link to an LCD counter that needed a simple switch closure to count stuff. So, what we need is a current-sensing device that turns an AC current above xx amps into a simple switch closure. Turns out, there is a term for this: Current Sense Relay.

Wandering around the googleverse, here are some options.

https://www.amazon.com/Current-Sens...hvlocphy=&hvtargid=pla-4584207580245319&psc=1

https://www.amazon.com/Current-Sens...&hvlocphy=&hvtargid=pla-4584070164358181&th=1

I'm sure there are many others out there, but this covers the idea. Versions that do not require splitting out one wire from the AC feed and getting it through the hole are way more expensive.

Make a short male-to-female adapter cable, maybe only 1 foot long, with a 3-prong plug and 3-prong socket. GND to GND, Neutral to Neutral, Line wire through the sensor to Line. The sensor switch contacts go to the counter at the link at the bottom of post #5.

https://www.amazon.com/Digital-Traffic-Counter-Electrical-Totalizer/dp/B0C1C8H474

ak
 
Last edited:

MisterBill2

Joined Jan 23, 2018
19,337
One possible "current sensing relay" could be one of the starter relays like are used for some sealed unit compressors. But hose are seldom rated for more than two amps. Perhaps adding a low value shunt resistor would allow it to work sensing 5 amps but able to withstand 15 amps. That would be the second choice if the in-line electromagnet coil scheme does not work. The benefit of either scheme is that it requires no access to the load connection except at the line plug.
 
Top