Energy meter for each circuit in a breaker panel?

Discussion in 'General Electronics Chat' started by DMahalko, Aug 18, 2012.

  1. DMahalko

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Oct 5, 2008
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    I am not looking to build something here. I am wondering if anything already exists to do this. Might be interesting for the nerds and control freaks.


    Is there such a thing as a totalling kilowatt meter that has 60 or so inputs for amperage coil pickups?

    The idea here is to install a amperage coil pickup onto every circuit wire in a breaker panel, plus pickups for the incoming panel mains. The coil pickups for each circuit would be tiny, sized for #10 gauge or so, to fit inside a typical residential breaker panel.

    The pickups could be clipped around the circuit wires, or the circuit wires threaded through each pickup coil spool before screwing down in the breaker lug.

    Minute-by-minute usage graphs for each circuit would be logged internally on a few gigabytes of flash memory, and readable by a PC through a USB cable or wifi connection.



    So, just how much power is the furnace or water heater or kitchen stove or whatever using, and when? Let's find out. :D

    I highly doubt anything like this exists, as few people would care to know such detailed info about their home's power usage.

    - Dale Mahalko
     
  2. nsaspook

    AAC Fanatic!

    Aug 27, 2009
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    Last edited: Aug 19, 2012
  3. DMahalko

    Thread Starter Senior Member

    Oct 5, 2008
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    Hmm, "requires a 2 year service contract, billed at $14.99 per month". Looks like someone is trying to line their pockets with additional profit after the initial sale, by requiring "activation".

    "Saves you up to 30% on energy bills!" Yep, which are mailed to Powerhouse Dynamics for the monthly service fees.

    I'm emailing them to find out what happens if that service contract expires and is not renewed. Is the equipment shut down and rendered useless?
     
  4. #12

    Expert

    Nov 30, 2010
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    Besides that, you will need 2 of them to get 60 circuits. (They only do 44 circuits each.) $1800 down plus 720 for "service"? I'd call you curious in more than one way if you paid that! Curious about electricity and curious in your spending habits.
     
  5. WBahn

    Moderator

    Mar 31, 2012
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    One of the guys here on the mountain has a system that monitors only whole house current draw, but it learns to identify items that are used repetitively. Basically it learns a current draw signature for it and then you can walk through the time plots and tag them with a name that has meaning to you, otherwise it will just assign them a sequential ID number.

    The system wasn't too expensive, since it was primarily software. I haven't talked to him about it recently and he had only installed it a few months prior to my last conversation with him, but he was pretty surprised at that time by how good a job it did at correctly identifying and tracking the major loads.
     
  6. MiniMoke

    New Member

    Aug 9, 2017
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    I was wondering the same thing, but more on the lines of intelligent circuit breakers that could replace the ones in your fuse box. These would monitor the power/current and transmit the info via Bluetooth or WiFi. It would also be useful to be able to remotely controller the breaker to cut power or apply power to individual circuits.
    With solar systems and battery storage it would be useful to have a system to route the solar generated power to particular circuits.
     
  7. wayneh

    Expert

    Sep 9, 2010
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    You can buy smartphone-controlled switched outlets for about $20, and some of these have a power monitoring function similar to a Kill-A-Watt meter. With a couple of those and some patience to collect the data, I think you could get a pretty good idea of where the power in any house is going.

    But really you already 'know'. The big items are the A/C, stove and well pump. Water heater and furnace if either of those is electric. Refrigerator. Lighting is fairly trivial in most homes and the wattage is written on every bulb anyway. Then you start getting into wall warts, always-on TVs and the like.
     
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  8. KeepItSimpleStupid

    Well-Known Member

    Mar 4, 2014
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  9. tcmtech

    Distinguished Member

    Nov 4, 2013
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    Most people who care understand the concept of doing basic device usage calculations and factoring them against the total usage.

    For me my #1 power user in the summer is air conditioning (500 - 750+ KWH a month) unless I am doing a lot of work in my shop like welding and metal cutting with my plasma cutter which can add anywhere from 150 - 800+ KWH to a bill.

    After that everything else combined only accounts for a fraction of my total power consumption (> 175 - 250 KWH a month) and is not worth the itemized concerns let alone any of it worth monitoring.
     
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  10. MiniMoke

    New Member

    Aug 9, 2017
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    Thanks Guys,

    Currently I have a solar system where the excess is sold to the grid (at more than I pay for grid power), so at the moment it's more economical for me to run big consumers such as the pool pump at night.

    The scheme I'm on is going to coming to a close in two years, so I'll have to run the big consumers during the day.

    I'm also thinking of getting batteries so I don't have to rely on grid power and if I go down that track, I'll need to monitor circuits and route solar power to them dynamically.

    For example on a sunny day, the batteries may be charged early, so excess power can be routed to the pool pump. Whereas on a cloudy day, the batteries may not get a full charge, so the pool-pump would be run at night (for a shorter period of time); if the power requirements of the other house circuits (and the battery status allow).
     
  11. tcmtech

    Distinguished Member

    Nov 4, 2013
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    If I was you I would do a serious energy audit of the realistic and likely peak power consumptions you will have in play weighed against the realistic costs of adding the battery plus other related systems and to what time frame they would theoretically pay for themselves in avoided costs on utility power.

    I can't count how many people I have talked with in life and online that never bothered to do such an audit who in the end spent way more on gear and operating costs than they ever saved themselves on cost avoidance saving elsewhere.
     
  12. MiniMoke

    New Member

    Aug 9, 2017
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    Thanks for that valuable advice. That's why I hijacked this post and asked if there was an easy way to monitor each circuit in my home :)

    I realise that current measuring clamps can be placed around the cables or individual monitors placed at particular devices, but I was more interested in knowing whether there were "intelligent" circuit-breakers out there that could replace the existing ones in my fuse board.

    My thoughts were that these circuit-breakers would transmit real-time current readings via WiFi or Bluetooth. This would greatly assist with the power audit.

    Then if a battery system (of the determined capacity) is deemed to be beneficial, it would be useful to be able to remotely control the circuit-breakers so that particular circuits could be switched on or off as required to route the solar power where it it is needed.
     
  13. tcmtech

    Distinguished Member

    Nov 4, 2013
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    The simplest thing to do is just control the high load high usage devices and leave the little stuff alone. That's how standard off-peak utility power metering and control systems work.

    Typically they use cyclic or timed control of things like the central air and water heating or higher load pool pumps. Beyond those types of devices most homes don't have much for loads beyond the numerous basic low power items like lighting, ceiling fans, alarm clocks, computers, TV's and portable device chargers. Stuff that's power consumption even when combined still doesn't add up in a day to what one item like a water heater or central air unit uses in less than a hour.

    That's the items that make a electric bill go up fast.
     
  14. LMVP Truth in Facts

    New Member

    Aug 10, 2017
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    I Agree with that you should know and be careful of the items you listed. But let me ask you my brother swears by turning off his hot water heater. I do not use hot water for my washer and its just me and my wife in the house. I don't think in my case turning on and off the water heater is necessary. Thoughts?
     
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