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Power Handhelds Technology

Monitor Household Energy From Your Smartphone 58

Posted by samzenpus
from the power-in-your-pocket dept.
kkleiner writes "People Power 1.0 is an open and extensible cloud-based platform that allows you to monitor up-to-the-minute household energy usage from an iPhone or Android smartphone. Part of the growing Internet of Things, People Power 1.0 brings energy monitoring to the common household. It works through your house router to connect to the Internet and send data to your smartphone. Or you can measure energy consumption from individual devices with People Power's GreenX Powerstrips."
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Monitor Household Energy From Your Smartphone

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Saying what a house is using each moment is ok, but if you want to do something about reducing energy, you need to know what devices/circuits are sucking it all up. Toys like kilawatt are ok, but the only work on small powered devices. We really need to know what the hardwired, dedicated and 220V systems are using, as they're the main energy consumers.

    • by ShakaUVM (157947)

      The SmartMeter (that pretty much every house in California has now) will show you instantaneous power consumption. If you're willing to do easy arithmetic and tromp out to the side of your house, you can figure out what the power draws are for everything in your house, without needing to buy anything.

      If you know what's on in your house, then, you know your draw. You can even test things under heavy load.

      In my house, the AC uses 4x as much power as the rest of the house combined.

      That said, I do have a widget

      • by adolf (21054)

        You don't need a "smart" meter to do this:

        Just tromp outside with a wristwatch, look at any old meter, and start counting revolutions. Some simple multiplication later, and you can see how much power you're using.

        Usage over time is easy, too: Just record the positions of the dials, and come back later to do it again. Subtract. Done.

        • by pnewhook (788591)
          But if you had a smart meter, all you need to do is to logon to your meter from any web browser and check the log. Far easier than what you are suggesting.
        • by elrous0 (869638) *

          You don't need a "smart" meter to do this

          Yeah, will that dial tell you which circuits are drawing energy and how much?

          • by adolf (21054)

            It will do every bit as good a job of it as a "smart meter" will.

          • by txmcse (937355)
            Are you suggesting that this device will? Of course a smart meter will. Adolf's method is free and foolproof. You are in ultimate control of what devices are on in your house. A little effort and a little time, and you can figure out the pull of everything that is on your system. Even (as was pointed out already) the 220v devices. Sure, this toy will tell you how much your lamp, or fridge is pulling, but those don't change... one you figure out what they draw per hour... it's pretty much going to stay
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @05:32PM (#36977616)

    Burn energy to save energy - what's not to like?

    But seriously - this is a cool idea. When the price drops to around $2-3 an outlet, I'll outfit my house.

    • Heh, you got me. :P

      I was going to scream "This is the way to do prevention! You pay now and recover your investment later!" but then I read your second sentence.

  • by Baloroth (2370816) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @05:35PM (#36977672)
    All we need now is an app that monitors how many monitoring apps there are! Otherwise, how are we going to keep track of them all?
    • by alienzed (732782)
      Then we'll make an app that will monitor the monitor monitoring apps so that we don't have to!
  • by iamhassi (659463) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @05:35PM (#36977676) Journal
    This is not free, the kit to hook up to your electricity is $150. [amazon.com] I don't purposely leave things on so I don't think I could turn off enough electrical appliances to ever save that $150, it's not like I could turn off the A/C, fridge, etc.
    • by hood8263 (1396373)
      ummm ya... you could turn off your AC
      • by geekoid (135745)

        depends. In some areas that means his house would be over 125 degrees during the day. Possible even as high if 150.
        Or he is Dr. Freeze.

        • Rather than totally disabling the A/C, you can use a programmable thermostat to let the house get uncomfortably (but not unsafely) hot during times when nobody is around, then cool it back down when people are around.

          Also, in areas of low humidity where it gets cool at night you can gain a lot of efficiency by opening windows at night, circulating the cool air around the house, then sealing up the windows during the day when it's hot out.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      If you say 10 bucks a month because you are more aware of your energy usage, then it pays for itself in 15 months.

      • by txmcse (937355)
        let's assume that a month is 720 hours (24*30). Iet us also assume that you're paying around .10/kwh... you'll have to save 100 hours of electricity to make up for $10/mo... correct? Now let's assume that if you are willing to pay $150 for a device to save energy, then you are already energy conscious enough to turn unneeded items off. So what this is going to allow you to do is to turn off the things you forgot to turn off before you left the house. (because if you are at the house, and you see somethin
    • Re:kit costs $150 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by malakai (136531) on Wednesday August 03, 2011 @06:47PM (#36978704) Journal

      I got this for free from Con Edison (not this model). They came out, installed it on the mains, and hooked up a little wireless gateway device. I get instant usage reports...etc.

      It's value diminishes a bit with time. Early on, I was looking at the charts daily. I really got into optimizing my place for low energy during the day. I could see when my refrigerator cycled on, and later when my A/C systems cycled on. It did lead me to throw away two older A/C units that were drawing way to much power.

      The ability to be alerted when you seem to be using unusually more power than normal is good. I had a BeerTender go bad and some cheap Wine Cooler/Refrig unit. Both started using way more energy than they should have w/o tripping the breaker. Also, they give you a little LED status bar that's wireless, and will show you what % of your target daily KW your on track to using. It basically shows you your energy velocity. I.E, it says "if you keep using this much energy, then by midnight tonight you'll be x% through your self-set daily budget." If you go over 100% it turns red. A few times this summer I had full red bars by 10am. Window AC systems are really not efficient.

      All in all, I've cut my year to year energy bill by half. In fact, this last month was $200 vs $450 last year. In a few years this will be standard and won't seem unusual, but the data is value added imo.

    • by fishb0ne (1190195)
      Perfect example of gaming the Amazon review system. Product has only one review, by a user which only has 2 reviews, both for the same product and company.
  • Do People Power Powerstrips have Genuine People Personalities?
  • I track my home energy usage for free with Google's PowerMeter (SDG&E)

    http://www.google.com/powermeter/site/recent [google.com]

  • Except for indirect spying on whoever might be home, I don't see why a smart phone app to measure home power usage is even useful. What you really need are overall trends and patterns by device. Not only can this wait until you get home, it works much better on a large screen.

    • by geekoid (135745)

      habit changes are easier with regular reminders. Like making people think about what they are eating every time they eat helps people control their diet.

    • by Darinbob (1142669)

      I don't understand the "cloud based" either. Or was that just added to get the buzzword count up?

      • by ee_moss (635165)
        'Cloud based' means you can access the data and interact with your energy from any location. Many energy monitoring solutions available today are accessible from the local premises only. With a cloud-based system you can access it on your phone, TV, computer, etc. at any location. The most useful time for me to turn off my power is when I'm away from home and forgot to turn something off, which is a good case for the mobile phone.
        • 'Cloud based' means you can access the data and interact with your energy from any location. Many energy monitoring solutions available today are accessible from the local premises only. With a cloud-based system you can access it on your phone, TV, computer, etc. at any location. The most useful time for me to turn off my power is when I'm away from home and forgot to turn something off, which is a good case for the mobile phone.

          A few extra sensors to detect movement or body heat and the system would automatically know when you are home or not. You could then define a profile for the system to automatically turn devices off that's supposed to be off when you're gone. This way, the system works automatically without any interaction. Instead, the app-centric approach to this tells me that the platform is going to nag me to death when I'm not home and the lights are on.

        • by Darinbob (1142669)

          Why is cloud based different from "you can go to a fixed IP address or web site to look this up"? If you used to use a computer and your ISP to get to a web site and now you can use a phone to get to the same web site, why is it now called cloud based even though the service has not changed its technology?

          • by pnewhook (788591)
            Because 'cloud based' is the new buzzword just like 'synergy' was a while ago. A meaningless word used to pretend you know what you are talking about.
  • Can't most people do this already without the need for an "app"? I think almost everyone with a smart meter should have access to the data through their power utility's website. Does this do something more, like monitor per circuit or per device usage?

    • Well there is no "App" for smart meters yet as utilities want to hold on to the data...they do not want to let you know how much you consume in real time. Also the People Power app and powerstrip will let you monitor each device's energy consumption and control the devices too. Also the current version PP1.0 currently only lets you monitor data for the entire house, but its a start. Soon you will be able to control your thermostats and devices through the app too, while measuring their power consumption in
      • by pnewhook (788591)

        Well there is no "App" for smart meters yet as utilities want to hold on to the data...they do not want to let you know how much you consume in real time.

        Depends where you live. My power utilities' smart meter allows secure real-time access to my power usage from a web browser, and therefore by default my smartphone.

      • hmm...I wonder if there's a way to get the data sent from the little port they installed on the outside of the house. Those scanners the power guys come around with are probably just simple IR, wonder if there's a way to figure out the control signal.
    • Can't most people do this already without the need for an "app"? I think almost everyone with a smart meter should have access to the data through their power utility's website. Does this do something more, like monitor per circuit or per device usage?

      I saw a presentation from a prof at the University of Washington who designed a power meter that plugs into the breaker and automatically learns the power signature of each device in your home as well as determine how much power each individual device uses. He founded a startup that was supposed to sell these things for about $150 in retail stores, except he sold out to Belkin before the devices went to market. This was about a year or two ago, and I haven't heard anything about these devices since. I de

  • Well, not up to the minute, but just last month they added daily usage graphs with on-peak and off-peak as well as average temperature. You can see yesterday's usage. You can also let it calculate your next bill based on partial usage. So, you may not want to drop hundreds of dollars on this if your local power company has the data and is willing to share...

  • Smart Meter Texas [smartmetertexas.com]

    Unfortunately, there appears to be no way to automatically send e-mails/SMS messages when certain usage targets are met, so the usability of the site leaves a lot to be desired. But it's a start...

    • I met the folks who manage Smart Meter Texas last month. They said it is underbuilt on purpose so that Retail Electricity Providers (there are 80+ in Texas) can craft custom apps on top of the portal data platform. Gives the REPs a new area to compete in besides price and 'green-ness'.
  • I just became aware of another product like this. Our area uses Itron or Schlumberger automated electric meters. These meters already have a radio transmitter in them. I got the Digi ERT/ethernet gateway http://www.digi.com/products/wireless-routers-gateways/gateways/ert-ethernet.jsp#overview [digi.com] and set it up for my meter. There is an app for both iPhone and Android that provides energy monitoring via the Digi Energy Day Trader website. If your house has a newer smart meter, there is a different Zigbee g

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