First Days with our TED-5000 Home Energy Monitor

Understanding your home energy usage is an important step to to reducing it.  You can get a good first start by just looking at your energy bills and thinking about why there are peaks and valleys and how this year compares to last.   To go beyond looking at your bills and save even more, you need a little help from some tools.

The beginner tool for measuring your electrical usage is a Kill-A-Watt electricity usage monitor.  You should definitely borrow or buy one if you haven’t already, to measure the electric usage of devices like cable boxes, cell phone chargers, TV, etc. around your house – both in their on and off positions.

The advanced tool in understanding and therefore reducing home energy usage (in this case just electricity) is a home energy monitoring device such as the The Energy Detective (TED-5000).  There are a number of different home electricity monitors that measure and report your entire home electricity usage.  I like the TED-5000 because it logs usage so you can see patterns, works with Google Power Meter and can also monitor solar and wind installations.

The TED-5000 that Alicia bought for me as my Christmas and birthday present finally arrived this week after a known supply delay from the manufacturer.  We set it up and configured it to interface with Google Power Meter. We have been having lots of fun playing with it!  After a few weeks of usage I will write a more detailed post about the TED-5000, but for now here are my first impressions.

I love seeing how much power we are consuming right now and seeing what happens when I turn off a computer or light.  I also love being able to look back and see how much power was being used in the house at any given time over the past few days.

For example, with all the lights off and everyone in bed, we are still consuming about 300W.  I have also detected an interesting pattern that might be  the circulator pumps for our boiler using about 150W and cycling on during the night.  We were under the impression the heat wasn’t kicking in at night because we have the thermostat down low enough. This pattern might also be from the refrigerator or freezer.  These are both going to require some additional exploration to see if we can identify everything that makes the always on load of 300W and see if any of that can be eliminated.

Having the TED-5000 work with Google Power Meter is also really cool.  Since Google announced this service, I’ve contacted with my utility company to try and get a smart meter, but they are only doing pilots in other regions.  Now I can monitor our electricity usage from anywhere via the web and compare it with others. It also provides another option for viewing usage from my iPhone.
When I am at home, I can access all the great features of our TED-5000 via the web on my iPhone.  We have fun seeing what happens when we turn on an appliance like the coffee machine or the dishwasher.
Getting the TED-5000 setup has not been without some bumps.  The initial place I installed the gateway was flaky.  I eventually figured out that the power supply for our router was interfering with the power line network that the energy monitor uses to communicate with itself.  This is frustrating since you need an ethernet drop near an outlet that is near the main electrical panel.  
I have also had difficulty connecting to the TED-5000 from outside my home network using the secure web protocols.  

As I have time to play and learn more, I’ll be sure to write up a more in depth article on how to use the TED-5000.

Happy Greening!
Jon



Comments

  1. Jon —

    Great post! The TED 5000 is an amazing product, overall, but not without its issues. My company has been selling it (sort of … manufacturer had a rather massive back order that is only now getting fulfilled). We’re bracing for an onslaught of technical support questions 🙂

    The line noise issue is very common and kind of tricky to sort out. They almost encourage you to install the gateway next to the router by providing a 3 foot Ethernet cable; but this will almost always not work (and worse, it will work for just long enough to make you think everything’s fine).

    I tried connecting over SSL (https) to my TED after configuring my network to let in outside traffic and forwarding traffic on the ssl port to the router. But, as you say, it is terribly slow — and at least when I tried it, there was no authentication (username/password) so it’s kind of pointless to use SSL to secure nothing 😐

    We are working on some installation videos, FAQs and other resources at EnergyCircle.com (my company), and I have also posted some more technical stuff on my personal blog at http://fivepercent.us/2009/08/22/ted-5000-installation-notes-and-observations/.

    Once you get the product up an running, it’s pretty good (and Google PowerMeter starts getting cooler once it has a little history).

    What’s amazing is that almost everyone writing about the product reports some sort of revelation about electricity use. What I have been surprised at is that it doesn’t get “old” — I have been monitoring electricity for several years (with the Blueline monitor before) and still am finding things that are soaking up electricity needlessly.

  2. Thanks for the comments Tom,

    I wonder who sells the power line filters they suggest and if they should include one standard in the box. Any idea of price?

    Since you sell the various TED-5000 do you know if the solar and wind one does DC or AC power monitoring?

    Does the Google Power Meter start showing comparisons to other people after more data is collected?

    Thanks,
    Jon

  3. I think solar is great. I am saving to buy a home, but my neighbor did solar panels and he cut his electric bill to $0. They look really cool on the roof too. He went to http://freecleansolar.com to get started.

  4. Want more detail then just overall use – for instance, want to find out the big energy hogs in your house? Here’s one product that I have in my home that really tells you all those details: http://www.powerhousedynamics.com

  5. It all starts at home. If every home conserves energy, then we can prevent natural calamities.

Speak Your Mind

*