(Last week, Phil T. & I entered our prototype networked power meter “Tweet-a-watt” into the Greener Gadget competition here in New York. After much demand for how to do such a thing, I’ve decided to post up this work in progress)
This project documents my adventures in learning how to wire up my home for wireless power monitoring. I live in a rented apartment so I don’t have hacking-access to a meter or breaker panel. Since I’m still very interested in measuring my power usage on a long term basis, I will build wireless outlet reporters. Building your own power monitor isn’t too tough and can save money but I’m not a fan of sticking my fingers into 120V power. Instead, I’ll build on the existing Kill-a-watt power monitor, which works great and is available at my local hardware store.
My plan is to have each room connected to a 6-outlet power strip which powers all the devices in that room (each kill-a-watt can measure up to 15A, or about 1800W, which is plenty!). That way I can track room-by-room usage, for example “kitchen”, “bedroom”, “workbench”, and “office”.
This project will show how to:
- snag data from a Kill-a-Watt power meter
- use an XBee to read analog sensor data remotely
- put XBees into low power sleep mode
- have multiple sensors transmit to one receiver
- parse XBee sensor data using python on a home computer and/or an Arduino-type thing
- utilize Google App Engine ‘cloud computing’ to store that data and display it for later analysis