Low cost ($100) WiFi thermostat also has Zigbee support?!?! This smells like it might be a hackable device. Might even be a PID controller? If it is you could partner something like this with Tweet a Watts, a chumby and you have a good start on DIY home automation. “there is space for a ZigBee module to be plugged into the back of the thermostat, as well as space for a module to enable demand response” I would like to see if I can get an FCC id off one and look at some board images.
Smart Energy: How to Measure It, How to Manage It. Smart energy meters for the smart grid are just one example of how important it will be to measure power usage at the application. Alternative energy sources like solar and wind require power metering, and so do car charging ports for tomorrow electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. In addition, server farms will need to be able power usage at the server rack level to accurately charge their customers for server power costs. All of these come back to smart energy ICs that can measure and communicate power usage. EDN technical editor Margery Conner will host a webinar panel discussion on August 24th featuring senior industry experts in key aspects of Smart Energy. PDF slides here.
What we need is to come up with some clever way to user power when it is actually available. There is no need to tickle-charge our laptops and cell phones, or to run the compressor in our fridges when the grid is under heavy load. Nor do we need to start our washing machines during high-load periods. But unplugging adaptors, and delaying the start of our washing machines during high-load periods should not be a manual task. First, how should we know when to do so, and second how should we manage to race around our homes unplugging devices all the time. This calls for automation.
This sounds quite tricky! How can one build up an intelligent grid that can use power when it is available in the grid and throttle down when a cloud blocks the sun?
It may sound like a daunting task but in fact all the information to build such intelligent devices is already available on the grid today. All we need is for the appliance manufacturer and consumers to embrace the idea!
A DIY project could be a Tweet-a-watt + Power switch tail / Arduino / relay. Ping the power company, see if it’s peak, if it is – turn off, if not – time to charge.
Ok this is for the power geek folks, a quick recap – back in May we showed you how to get the Tweet-a-Watt working with Google PowerMeter. It’s working but it’s not “official”.
All the code is up on github. Once you have the Tweet-a-Watt working with the python scripts we provide, you can add a cool extension and have beautiful graphs generated thanks to Google Powermeter. We thought we were done, but not quite.
Later that month we tried to get the Tweet-a-Watt “officially” added to the Google PowerMeter page here or here (we met the Rus Heywood from Google at Maker Faire, he directed us to Steve Hines and Rolf Schreiber).
It seems there is another hoop to jump through and at this point we’re going to suggest that the interested makers help out. Here’s the note from Steve Hines, a Developer Programs Engineer at Google, working with the PowerMeter team:
The enrollment process for Powermeter has a mechanism that allows the automation of this step of the process. It requires that the enrollment request come with a URL is called after enrollment. The handler at this URL can store the required token and path automatically.
One potential solution would be to have your python code extended to create a listener running on the user’s local machine at localhost would receive this request. The listener could then parse the request, taking out the token and path and storing them in environment variables. The python API scripts you ship would then use these environment variables rather require the user to edit the scripts and manually add them.
At this point, and just our opinion, we’re not really sure PowerMeter is a serious effort at Google and if it will continue, the manager (Ed Lu) recently left, the forums are pretty low volume on the Google site and if you review the Tweet-a-Watt time line it’s not that encouraging for folks wanting to use Google PowerMeter. The folks from Google have posted here before and we’re hoping they re-consider how they’re deploying PowerMeters and what the goal of the project really is, previously Google’s Ed Lu said…
We think ultimately Google will need to become a power company to meet it’s computational & storage demands, investing in a variety of power projects makes sense. The makers, tinkerers and students of today out there who use our power, solar and energy tracking kits are key to our future and Google’s future too. Google has the top minds in the world, we think the PowerMeter project should get a bit more love.
So with all this being said we’re hoping Google makes it a little easier for anyone to get any power meter to work with Google PowerMeter, specifically the hundreds (maybe thousands) of Tweet-a-Watt builders. The shifting priorities and management on Google PowerMeter likely makes it hard for the team doing to the work to get things done and the needs of the power metering makers are not likely a priority.
A lot of power start up buy our Tweet-a-watt to do prototyping and to later attract funding, our kit quickly allows them to do all the things they’d like to do later, then they can go to manufacturing, the last bit they ask about is the graphing and sometimes how it could work (easier) with Google PowerMeter.
From what we understand since Google is involved, even if it’s not in a major way in the “power industry” now, people in that space either worry about it, embrace it, want to work with them, compete or all of those. A lot of it is war-of-the-press-releases, but some of the concern may be valid – there’s also a lot of opportunity.
Regardless, if you want to start doing cool stuff with power metering and graphic, here’s what you can do immediately:
Breaking news! Tweet-a-Watt now works with Google Powermeter! and all the code is up on github. Once you have the Tweet-a-Watt working with the python scripts we provide, you can add a cool extension and have beautiful graphs generated thanks to Google Powermeter! This code, based on the original Tweet-a-watt, was created by the super-rad Devlin Thyne as special project with Adafruit (you can get a kit here).
You can download it from our source repository on github which now includes this script Please note that this mod is new, and is still under development, if you are having difficulties, try posting to the forums. Right now its only tested to work with a single Tweet-a-watt.
Google did release an API a few weeks ago, so this how it’s all working. Unfortunately, Google ignored our requests for access, choosing only to work with commercial partners and not the hundreds (perhaps thousands) of Tweet-a-watt makers out there, we’re excited that anyone can now build their own power meter and have it work with Google Powermeter now. Hopefully someone from Google will read this and consider adding Tweet-a-watt as an official option (besides AlertMe, UK and TED, Energy Detective, US). We’re open source, we’re power metering that works, we’re a good option for many people who wish to share their power usage.
For those interested in all things “net connected power meter” related, here’s a brief history on the Tweet-a-watt and what we’ve been up to. You can see all of these via our Tweet-a-watt blog category too.
April 23, 2009 – Google powermeter (press site)Google engineer Ka-Ping Yee says“Tweet-a-Watt is a really cool project! We’re excited by all the interest around Tweet-a-Watt and other do-it-yourself energy-monitoring projects, and we’d love to have all kinds of devices working with Google PowerMeter. Please stay tuned”…. (we resent requests, we received auto-replies and were ignored).
February 2, 2009 – Ed Lu from Google quickly “announced” Powermeter a week after our published project appeared on popular blogs / tech sites.
January 24, 2009 – Adafruit (Limor Fried and Phillip Torrone) release “Wattcher! For when you want to watch your Watts“. A Twittering power meter that uses the Google app engine. Project entered in the Green Gadgets competition and published on popular blogs / tech sites. All of our work for this project was placed in the public domain to avoid patent squatters.
December 2008 – Adafruit (Limor Fried and Phillip Torrone) create “Wattcher” aka Tweet-a-watt.
2006-2007 – Phillip Torrone starts collecting equipment for testing a “share-able” power meter for use with instant message networks
Tweet-a-Watt is a DIY wireless power monitoring system. The project uses an ‘off the shelf’ power monitor called the Kill-a-Watt and adds wireless reporting. Each plug transmits the power usage at that outlet to a central computer receiver. The receiver can then log, graph and report the data. This pack contains nearly everything* necessary to build a single outlet monitor and receiver. To monitor additional outlets, you will need an add-on transmitter pack. One outlet can monitor up to 1500 Watts.
The starter pack contains:
2 XBee modules (one for receiver, one for transmitter)
2 XBee adapter kits (ditto)
1 USB FTDI cable (for updating, configuring and receiving data from XBee)
1 bag of parts including 10,000uF capacitor, 220uF capacitor, 2 1% 10K resistors, 2 1% 4.7K resistors, 5mm green LED, 6″ rainbow ribbon cable, and 2 pieces of 1/8″ and 1/16″ heatshrink
GE has added a new interactive graphic on their website that details common appliances and the amount of power they use. You can choose which appliances you wish to “buy”, and it will add them up and present you with a “bill” — a report of total energy usage in kilowatts, dollars, or in terms of gallons of gas.
The data used is averaged from multiple sources, including the DoE’s Energy Star program, and from a number of public utility companies. If you want a more accurate value and/or do it yourself, you might consider using a Tweet-A-Watt.
For my third blog entry on the Intel® Energy Checker SDK, I will take on a two-part DIY and super fun project. I always wanted to extend the use of the SDK into my home and be able to monitor my personal energy consumption. As an engineer, I live by the motto: “you cannot manage what you cannot measure”. Isn’t the electric bill all about that, one may ask? Sure, it is a good year-to-year and month-to-month trend indicator and it will likely fit the needs of most of us for a while. However, using my bill, I cannot break down my energy consumption per function. What is the cost of running my lab equipment in the garage? How much does the entertainment system cost us per month? Etc. To be honest, I do not know if this information will trigger some good changes in the way I run my electric equipments – I sincerely wish so –, but at least I will have the knowledge.
I was aware of the existence of a cool little device called Kill A Watt produced by P3 International (P4400). This power analyzer actually fit requirements #1, #2 and #4 out of the box. Unfortunately it is a closed device and it cannot share its readings with the outside world. Luckily, there is also a cool DIY kit from Adafruit Industries – called Tweet-a-Watt – which precisely allows you to turn a P4400 into a wireless power analyzer using Digi’s XBee® 802.15.4 RF modules. With this kit, requirement #3 can be met. Sure, there are many other devices and kits available in the market, but for my project, this was the best pick. If you decide to take on similar project using different device(s), please share your experience with us!
Celebrate Earth Day 2010 with Adafruit – we’ll have posts all day and night with fun power/earth/green related projects and we’re having a one-time only sale on solar panels! Get a 2W solar panel 6V, 330mA out for $20, today only!
Today we’re excited to introduce the Google PowerMeter API on code.google.com, for developers interested in integrating with Google PowerMeter. This API will allow device manufacturers to build home energy monitoring devices that work with Google PowerMeter. We’re launching this API in order to help build the ecosystem of innovative developers working towards making energy information more widely available to consumers.
In today’s launch of the API on code.google.com we are highlighting the core design principles towards integrating with Google PowerMeter. In particular we outline the underlying data model and the accompanying protocols to ensure that Google PowerMeter provides consumers access to their energy consumption with utmost care in maintaining the user’s privacy and control on access to the information. We also highlight, with code samples and client implementations, how to easily start building your PowerMeter-compatible device.
The Tweet-a-Watt is a DIY wireless power monitoring system. The project uses an ‘off the shelf’ power monitor called the Kill-a-Watt and adds wireless reporting. Each plug transmits the power usage at that outlet to a central computer receiver. The receiver can then log, graph and report the data. This pack contains nearly everything* necessary to build a single outlet monitor and receiver. To monitor additional outlets, you will need an add-on transmitter pack. One outlet can monitor up to 1500 Watts.
Interesting strategy Yahoo, while Google is working with some companies to release power monitoring hardware, APIs and software to monitor / reduce power (Google Power Meter) Yahoo and Business Insider are making top 10 lists about how dumb it is.
Google’s Energy Monitor allows householders to monitor energy use and greenhouse gas emissions, thereby reducing consumption and saving money. Google may be best known for helping you find things on the web, but the online search company’s latest move is a bid to make futuristic low-energy eco-homes a reality. Launching for the first time in the UK today, Google Powermeter is an online tool that allows householders to monitor their home’s energy use and greenhouse gas emissions via the web, and so reduce their consumption and save money.
Some history – The open source Tweet-a-watt project was announced and released before the Google Powermeter, after the release we applied to Google’s program so the Tweet-a-watt could work with the Google Powermeter API, we received a generic form-letter response, and then later a Google engineer commented on our site…
Hi,I’m an engineer on the Google PowerMeter team. I think Tweet-a-Watt is a really cool project! We’re excited by all the interest around Tweet-a-Watt and other do-it-yourself energy-monitoring projects, and we’d love to have all kinds of devices working with Google PowerMeter. Please stay tuned. Comment by Ka-Ping Yee — April 28, 2009 @ 4:45 am
That was about 6 months ago. We’ve sent additional requests through the Google powered device form, but they’ve been ignored. There are thousands of people out there using the fully open source energy monitoring system based on the software (and hardware) of the Tweet-a-watt, which also uses Google’s app engine, it’s not clear why Google isn’t working with any of them or opening up their API so other power meters can use it.
Lastly, another Power meter maker wrote in a few months ago.
It’s almost 2 month later and our situation is like yours in April 2009. We are metering device manufacturer, we applied to the program and did not get any response from Google, not even stay tuned. The powermeter API seems to be something virtual. Comment by Robert — June 18, 2009 @ 5:27 pm
Eventually we posted about this on our site and a Google engineer commented.
In early 2009, a month after we released the Tweet-a-watt, Google announced their “PowerMeter” and now almost a year later they have their first device partner, we’re a little bummed that Google *could have* had thousands of Tweet-a-watt customers using the Google PowerMeter all this time but for whatever reason will not?
I know what you’re thinking.. “not another device that tweets something!” Yup, another device that tweets something. This time it’s a humidor and it tweets that status of it’s relative humidity and temperature levels. For cigar aficionados, this means a lot. In order to keep your cigars “fresh” for any amount of time over a few days, they must be contained in an environment that is controlled with the perfect amount of relative humidity and temperature levels. The purpose of this is so that your cigars don’t dry out or get too moist which would amount to a terrible smoking experience. The Tweetidor uses a digital precision relative humidity and temperature sensor (SHT75) along with the arduino.
This method of measuring mains AC electrical energy use is quite nice, it doesn’t require any breaking of the mains wire, which makes it much safer, you just clip-on to the wire a sensor called a current transformer (CT) that measures the current flowing through either the live or neutral mains wire. It does this by measuring the magnetic field that surrounds the wire, created by the current. The simplicity of just clipping on the sensor means that it can be used to measure the electrical energy used by the whole house. It is the method used by many commercial devices that you can buy.
I don’t have much knowledge of how the commercial devices work apart from the use of the CT sensor, I couldn’t find much information on them and so the following is what I have managed to get to work in quite an experimental way. The results seem promising and useful, there are probably better more accurate ways of doing it and so hopefully it will improve over time but this is how far I have got so far.