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  • Looking for energy monitor suggestions

    So I’ve had two Brultech ECM 1240’s for a good 10+ years now. They work, for the most part, but they each require a serial port on my HomeSeer PC and there really isn’t a good web interface or client for them. I have them integrated with HomeSeer using UltraECM3 and that’s what I’m using as my interface. I have decided to get a solar system and powerwalls for my house, which is going to be installed a week from Monday. They are going to need to move some circuits around and redo some of my electrical panels, so I was planning to remove the ECM 1240’s before they got here. That got me thinking about whether it makes sense to reinstall them after they are done or if I should upgrade to something a bit newer.

    I like the idea of the sense and some of the other ‘smart’ monitors in that they can theoretically monitor loads that don’t have dedicated circuits. One of the downsides of my current solution is that I can monitor most of my big loads (fridge, heat pump, water heater, etc) because they have a dedicated circuit, but other things, such as my pool pump and TV’s don’t have dedicated circuits, so I can’t measure them. However, I’m also not sure just how accurate the smart monitors really can be at detecting all the different loads. Especially with something like the lights in my salt water aquarium. The lights draw quite a lot of power, but they are also dimmable, so they start in the morning with a very low power draw and slowly ramp up through the day until they are drawing a lot of power in the afternoon, then they ramp down again through the evening. I feel like that would be difficult or impossible for a smart monitor to detect, but it is also a big load for me.

    So, all that said, what are you guys using for energy monitoring? I’d like something that integrates with HomeSeer, but having it’s own web interface or app would be helpful too. Something that can also measure solar production would be nice as well, although the system I am installing does come with it’s own app for that, so it’s not a must have.

  • #2
    I have the same question. I suspect that most people are just using z-wave outlets. Although that gets expensive at 240V.

    For my entertainment center I use the zooz power strip than can separately monitor 5 plugs.

    On most monitored outlets I reset kWh at midnight and accumulate data using the device history plugin. Device history uses a SQLite database that can be queried. I am very unclear as to what the Homeseer energy plugins do. With so many people installing solar I would think there would be good interest in this area.

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    • #3
      Hi

      So I have searched for energy monitors to interface with Homeseer for the past couple of months, I do have solar panels but with no batteries.

      I do have a solar edge inverter.


      If you are going to use solar edge and batteries I recommend you get their integrated solution which can shift time of use from the grid to your batteries automatically to reduce cost.
      Solar edge installs a whole house energy monitor that you can see in their website production and consumption.
      There is a plugin for HS4 that can read the inverted information (produced).

      I searched online to see what other energy monitors existed and did find the ones you mention like “sense”, read reviews and found mixed reviews.

      There are some arduino based energy monitors out there but I am not aware of anyone integrating them with homeseer such as

      Eyedro
      Neurio
      Emporia energy


      By the way what was interesting that all of these energy monitors work exacty the same way by using the “clamps” around the cable on each circuit.

      So I ended up looking and brultech as an option only thing that put me off was the $800 price tag.
      What I ended up doing was installing 2 Aeon energy montinors and which look at overall production and consumption. i store these values in hse devices and create a graph with both.

      So in my view you have one of the best options available..

      Let me know what you end up using

      Cheers
      Chris


      Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

      Comment


      • #4
        Thanks for the replies. I do have a few older aeon labs zwave appliance modules that provide power information and I’m using those in some cases where an appliance doesn’t have a dedicated circuit that can be measured with my brultech monitor. However, using zwave modules for everything doesn’t seem feasible and may not even be an option for some things like my heat pump and water heater that are hard wired with no plug at all.

        I spent a little more time looking into the Sense and it looks cool, but it also seems to be kind of hit or miss. It might detect everything I want to monitor eventually or it might not. It might be able to correctly identity things or it might not. To some extent it feels like a step backwards from what I have now because at least now I know that I’m able to monitor the things that matter to me one way or another.

        I’ll keep looking at options, but the more I look the more I realize that you might be right that what I have might be the best option for me. I was hoping to get a more integrated solution that could monitor everything, but it may be that such a thing doesn’t really exist at this point.

        As far as my solar goes, the solar system as well as four powerwalls are being installed by Tesla. I am getting two SolarEdge 7600H inverters, but from what I can see it’s unclear whether I’m able to use the SolarEdge tools to monitor them or if I can only monitor them through the Tesla proprietary software. Some people online seem to have been able to get access to them through the SolarEdge web page and some haven’t. I’ll definitely look into the SolarEdge HomeSeer plugin assuming I am able to get access to my inverters.

        Tesla also allows me to use the powerwalls for time shifting, but in my case it’s not necessary as there is no time of use billing available from my power company. The powerwalls will only be used as a backup for power outages (and being in Florida I can have extended outages after hurricanes)

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        • #5
          Brett,

          There is a plug-in that you can use in HS4 to get the information from the inverter for production without the need to code or anything, once I upgrade to HS4 I plan on using it, take a look at the link below.

          https://forums.homeseer.com/forum/en...laredge-stefxx this will give you energy produced,


          So if you are using solaredge system I recommend to invest in the following which is an add-on
          https://www.solaredge.com/sites/defa...itoring_na.pdf

          OR better yet

          Install a Solaredge inverter that has this capability built-in.
          HD-Wave Inverter with RGM and Consumption Monitoring
          SolarEdge's single phase inverter with award-winning HD-Wave technology is now available with integrated consumption and revenue grade production monitoring. It only requires a simple connection of two external SolarEdge CTs (sold separately) to enable consumption monitoring.

          I learned all of this with my research...

          and remember you already know what you consume if you are using the Brultech on all circuits...

          Hope this helps..
          Chris

          Comment


          • #6
            Hey all, I'm logbuilder from WA state. Here we have solar, HS3, and an EV with level 2 charger. Solar is 34 panels (10.2kw) and 17 microinverters. Grid tied, no batteries. Thankfully, our grid is pretty reliable. Over the course of a year, generally we produce as much as we use. For monitoring, we use eGauge. we only monitor generation and usage but it can handle up to 15 sensors. They make a Pro version that handles 30 sensors. Pricey but it works and I really like the presentation. We use APS microinverters which work great. Haven't had any failures. They have an app to monitor them but it is very basic. Only monitors production. Every once in a while I will look at it since it does show each panel's output. I suppose if I have a problem, it will be helpful when troubleshooting. Otherwise I just use eGauge. I have 1 screen dedicated to monitoring. It has some outside camera views (Blue Iris) and eGauge. The EV charger also has an app but again, it is not that useful or needed.

            Initially, I thought it would be useful to integrate eGauge with HS. eGauge is IP connected. No plugin existed specifically for eGauge but it does have an API which outputs xml data. I suspect Big5 might work to pull data. I don't use Big5 so haven't tried. Over time, I have realized I just don't have use cases that require integration. We only have one rate regardless of time. Also, we have annual net metering so even monthly fluctuations don't matter. Our bill from the power company is about $16 per month which is the minimum it can be. I get paid annually for my gross generation @ .21/kwh. Usually I get a check for around $2k. Saving energy would not lower our costs at all. I have some z-wave devices that report energy usage. Interesting but not actionable.

            Do you folks have interesting ideas on what you would do with the energy monitoring being integrated with HS? I'd love to get inspired.


            Comment


            • #7
              Can someone share the ideas they have for using the usage data?

              BrettS You said you are putting in two powerwalls. If they are Tesla's, that is likely $15k for 25kwh. How are you justifying that?

              Comment


              • #8
                I haven’t done a whole lot with energy usage and automation, but I’ve done a little. For example, HomeSeer knows when my washer and drier are running, based on how much power they are drawing, and will make an announcement when they finish. I haven’t implemented this yet, but one other idea I’ve seen is to monitor the energy usage of the fridge and if the compressor doesn’t run for x amount of time then to send an alert to check the fridge before the food spoils.

                But beyond automation, just having usage data can be helpful. For example, I can see exactly how much power my pool pump used over the past month to see whether upgrading to a more energy efficient pump might be worthwhile. I can see exactly how much energy my heat pump used over time and I can see if increasing the temp in the house by a degree really saves on air conditioning costs. When I went from a standard tank water heater to my tankless I was able to see that the tankless water heater used about 33% less energy, even though we were taking longer showers because we weren’t running out of hot water. I can see how much electricity my electric car uses for charging. The big thing for me is just having usage history for all or most of the major power users in my house.

                As far as the powerwalls go, Tesla offers a pretty good discount when you install them at the same time as solar, plus when they are installed with solar you also qualify for the 26% federal tax credit on the whole purchase. I’m actually installing four powerwalls and after the tax credit and bundle discount it was only about $16K to add the four powerwalls. It’s still a significant amount of money, but I really need some sort of an automatic backup option. I have a big saltwater aquarium and if the power fails when I’m not home I could potentially be looking at losing thousands of dollars in livestock. Additionally just having power backup in Florida is a good idea. About 4 years when hurricane Matthew came through I lost power for three days. With the solar and powerwalls I will be able to run my house indefinitely in the event of an extended power failure. My other option would have been a whole house generator, but by the time I got a generator and a propane tank installed (my house has no gas service) I would be getting close to $16K anyway.

                My utility doesn’t offer time of use rates, but if you live in an area that does offer time of use rates then in addition to providing backup power, the powerwalls can also save a significant amount of money on your power bill by allowing you to run on battery during the peak usage periods and only draw power from the grid during the cheap off peak times.

                Tesla just restructured their solar and powerwall pricing yesterday. I think the solar pricing went down and the bundle discount went down a bit too, but since I had an order in progress they are going to give me a $2200 rebate after my system is installed to make my cost closer to what I would pay if I were to order a system with the new pricing. If you are interested in a Tesla solar system send me a PM and I’d be happy to give you my referral code which will save you a bit of money and give me a bit of a credit as well.

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                • #9
                  Brultech GEM is my recommendation.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    BrettS Thanks for the reply. When I first installed solar, I was quite interested (obsessed) with understanding what devices were using what. A Killawatt is really useful for the small 110 devices. I cataloged each device with usage and phantom loads. For the 220 devices, I can see the increase in overall usage (via eGauge) so the delta is the use of that device. The data is initially really interesting but I haven't figured out triggers for events. I know my electric water heater (15 years old) uses a lot when heating and also there are spikes all day long usually every 4 hours or so. I'm considering options for replacement. Oh,yea, regarding the eGauge system I use, it saves raw data for several years. It will graph any date range with any granularity I desire. I can also extract a date range for import to something such as excel for analysis. Since it seems most of your interest is in characterizing and monitoring your devices, an eGauge or something like it might do well for you even without any interface to HS.

                    My utility also does not have time based rates - one rate all day. For outages, ours mostly occur in the winter when solar is not producing much. We can go weeks without sun. Should I have an extended outage, batteries are a short term solution. I therefore have a generator. But it would be nice to have around 10kwh stored to smooth things out and not have to fire the genset for just the frig and freezer. Sounds like you got a real good deal on the storage with the package. I was looking at the KiloVault over on AltE - 7.5kwh for about $5100. That probably would be enough for me.

                    The frig/freezer idea is a good one. I was thinking about monitoring the inside temp with z-wave or wifi device however I haven't seen such a thing, Might have to build one with an arduino.


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                    • #11
                      Thought you might enjoy these. They are the graphs out of eGauge.

                      First is the last 24 hours. It has been cloudy all day.
                      Second is yesterday. Good sun, did wash/dry in morning and charged EV (Bolt) in evening.

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                      • #12
                        They started the solar and powerwall install yesterday and are hoping to finish up today. I still haven’t figured out what I want to do for energy monitoring yet. I may just reinstall my brultech 1240’s. It looks like I do have the option to monitor a generation channel with the 1240’s. However, one thing I didn’t consider is whether I want something that can also monitor the power going to and coming from the powerwalls. So I’ll need to spend some time thinking about that as well. And since everyone likes pictures, here are a few pictures from the solar install.







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                        • #13
                          Wow! Thanks for the pics From what I can tell you have panels on 3 sides of your roof. Somewhere around 40 panels when done? That should put you well over 10kw. Nice system!

                          It really is nice when you have a system that large that meets all your consumption needs. At the end of the year knowing you didn't directly pay for any house power and never bought any gas for a car. I can take a 100 mile day trip and it literally costs me nothing. Quite liberating. My system will have paid for itself in another 5 years and I should have another 20 years of free power. I'm on a well with a 240v pump so I get no water bill. Septic tank so no sewer bill. My heat is half propane which I buy once a year. I have 1000 gals of storage in 2 tanks that I own so I can shop for the best price every year. You'd be amazed at the spread from one supplier to the next. Most years I will use about 700 gals @ about $1.50/gal. When you have a solar system that fully meets your consumption needs, you tend not to worry with saving power. Phantom loads - why bother. As long as I know total production and consumption, that's all I really need. If either jumps or falls, I should be able to identify why pretty quickly. Those spikes you see in the middle of the night in the charts I posted are my electric water heater. It is really old and I'm sure there are way more efficient ones that would have other advantages too. The heat pump ones look pretty neat. However, since I don't buy any power, an inefficient appliance really doesn't matter. I'll wait till it fails and then replace with a moderately efficient one. Half the heat is wood based. That's an ongoing chore of processing firewood. We have a 5 acre woodlot that provides me all the wood I have the energy to cut.

                          My lack of needing to be efficient may be unique to WA state. Since I get billed for net usage and paid for gross production, there is no incentive to save as long as I produce above what I use. FL may be quite different. How do you get compensated for what you put back into the grid?

                          I remember one thing that I was paranoid about when I got the solar was keeping the panels clean so they would produce top power. Turns out that was wasted worry. My panels are ground mounted so I can get to them easily but they never look dirty and production has remained constant. The rain cleans them just fine. But as you can see below, sometimes they produce nothing. Batteries would be nice.

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                          • #14
                            The install is finished now. Here are a few pics of the finished work:







                            There are 48 315W panels in total on three sides of the house (none on the roof that’s predominantly north facing) for a total of 15.12kW.

                            They turned it on for a short time this afternoon to test everything. It was partly cloudy this afternoon, so the solar output was bouncing around a bit as the clouds went overhead, but I saw it get up to 12.9kW at one point while it was in direct sunlight, so that seems pretty good to me.

                            At least I don’t have to worry about the snow here

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                            • #15
                              Really nice looking. Looks like they did great work. 15kw seems like a lot to me. But you are in FL so your AC probably uses a lot. Up here, residential usually doesn't have AC. Were the Powerwalls in the above picture installed?

                              ETA: that pool looks inviting

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