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Fuquay Varina, North Carolina, United States
A guy finding out if life really does begin at 50.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Google PowerMeter

I've been interested in home automation ever since I read about X10 for the first time in Byte Magazine in May of 1980. I purchased a X10 starter kit that had two lamp modules and one appliance module in the early 80s. In the mid 80s I had X10 devices turning on the outdoor flood lights and inside lights when the garage door opened (which my ex appreciated). By the early 90s here in North Carolina I was controlling my lights, water heater, and heat pump. I even automated closing the garage doors at 11pm if the doors happen be left open. Opening and closing a garage doors that swings like barn doors was a feat, but that's another story.

One reason I automated was to save money. All during this time I wanted to be able to measure the power being consumed. To paraphrase Lord Kelvin "What you can measure you can improve." With that in mind years ago a found an old power meter (with the dials and spinning wheel), and had the dream to wire it into my home and install a sensor to track the spinning wheel. Due to all rewiring and software that would be needed my dream never came true. Then Google came along. Google is investing $5 billion into Atlantic Wind Connection which I think is good for the planet. But buried in that article was this little tidbit "It (Google) also offers home energy management software via Google PowerMeter." PowerMeter! What's that? Well $200 + shipping, and about 30 minutes of install I now have Google tracking my energy usage. There not much data yet as you can see from the image. Stay tuned.

The $200 device I installed is a TED5000-G. No software to install or keep running on a PC. The TED has two devices. The first device is a sensor installed in your power panel that transmits over your house wiring to the 2nd device. The 2nd device is plugged into standard outlet and into your router using an Ethernet cable. The 2nd device called a gateway is running a web server that creates web pages with graphs and gauges showing your power usage. The gateway will optionally send data to Google so you can share it with those you choose. The devices monitors your power usage once a second, and stores the data locally:
  • 60 Minutes of second data
  • 48 Hours of minute data
  • 90 Days of hourly data
  • 10 Years of monthly data
All of that you can export to a spreadsheet (Google exports data also). Google has only the basic graphs, but your data is rolled up and compared to other PowerMeter users. Right now it says I use 2% more power than others with similar size house. I'm sure that is due to the limited data collected so far. I'll blog more as I learn more.

FYI - Since this is all browser based it displays nicely on my iPod Touch.

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