Author Topic: question re: Building Energy Measurement Devices  (Read 3052 times)

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jlsoaz

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question re: Building Energy Measurement Devices
« on: June 04, 2016, 01:23:50 PM »
Hi all:

For my home, I've been using a device called "The Energy Detective" for a number of years:

http://www.theenergydetective.com/compare

I've run into an issue though in that for some reason one of the areas of my house, in the garage where I installed a new panel to deal with some electric vehicle charging, has been resistant to integrating the Power Line Communications such that information on the use on that panel is sent properly to be integrated by TED and give me a fully accurate picture of my energy use.  This difficulty seems too have proven resistant to a couple of different electricians looking at it, and so it has me wondering if it would be a good idea to look into an alternative measurement device, maybe one that uses an alternative to PLC.  So, I'm wondering if anyone can recommend any alternative technologies that have worked well for them.

Note, I put this under "other" as it does not seem related to "controllers" or "micro-controllers" but if it should go in one of those, then that seems good.

SparWeb

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Re: question re: Building Energy Measurement Devices
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2016, 12:38:24 PM »
Nothing wrong with knowing about the alternatives, but I don't have enough information to know whether any alternate you choose might not have the same problem.
What have you done to trouble-shoot the existing problem?
What system is being used to charge the EV? 
How is its power consumption being monitored by TED?
No one believes the theory except the one who developed it.  Everyone believes the experiment except the one who ran it.

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OperaHouse

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Re: question re: Building Energy Measurement Devices
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2016, 04:11:48 PM »
I gather this is a communications problem, not a sensor issue.  Do you have any "energy saving devices" that attach onto the power line or lightning arestors.  These can shunt the signal.  Moving sensor power fro one phase to the other can sometimes help.

jlsoaz

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Re: question re: Building Energy Measurement Devices
« Reply #3 on: June 10, 2016, 01:54:47 AM »
Nothing wrong with knowing about the alternatives, but I don't have enough information to know whether any alternate you choose might not have the same problem.
What have you done to trouble-shoot the existing problem?
What system is being used to charge the EV? 
How is its power consumption being monitored by TED?

Thanks, but I'd really just like to figure out what other alternatives don't use PLC.  For example, are there any that use wi-fi? 

I've been down the trouble-shooting road before with my TED, and it was a time-consuming and somewhat bad pathway for me, so I'm avoiding it.  Two electricians telling me they can't get it to bring my new panel or sub-panel into the calculation is enough for me.

Note that it's working fine except for that one area. That is, my whole house's use of electricity is measured about accurately, as far as I can tell.  So, the only problem is that this one single area in my garage is not measured, and that will start to become a higher energy use circuit if/when I get another electric vehicle.

jlsoaz

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Re: question re: Building Energy Measurement Devices
« Reply #4 on: June 10, 2016, 01:57:04 AM »
I gather this is a communications problem, not a sensor issue.  Do you have any "energy saving devices" that attach onto the power line or lightning arestors.  These can shunt the signal.  Moving sensor power fro one phase to the other can sometimes help.

I don't know,... right now the only circuit that doesn't seem to be measured by the TED device is one that seems to be tied-in to my solar system and inverter (which is presently very active) and my EV charger (which is presently idle).  I'd like to sidestep all the trouble-shooting and just see what else is out there that offers an alternative to PLC.

DamonHD

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Re: question re: Building Energy Measurement Devices
« Reply #5 on: June 10, 2016, 03:19:44 AM »
Wireless (or partially so) monitoring devices include Open Energy Monitor:

https://openenergymonitor.org/emon/

If that is any help to you.

Rgds

Damon

jlsoaz

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Re: question re: Building Energy Measurement Devices
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2016, 03:19:08 PM »
Wireless (or partially so) monitoring devices include Open Energy Monitor:

https://openenergymonitor.org/emon/

If that is any help to you.

Rgds

Damon

Thanks, I scheduled someone to come over in the coming week to look at a small solar panel addition project, but aside from that, I will be discussing a few other things with them, such as doing a better job of getting data out of my inverter, better understanding how my batteries are functioning and seeing if the TED5000 can be extended to this comparatively new circuit or if we need to take a fresh approach.  I'll also ask if they can give me any language I can write down to get back to folks here as to what seems to be going wrong with the PLC/TED5000. 

I don't mean to be impatient with the well-intended responses, it's just that aside from having partially given up on it, my inability to understand what is going on to prevent the ted5000 from fully gathering data, or to describe it in meaningful terms, leaves me impatient and frustrated.  To put it another way, I had 38.5 months of leasing an EV (the lease has ended so I am for the moment back to just driving a gasoline vehicle), but no data-based understanding of how those nightly EV charging loads were integrating into the rest of my home's energy use.

I have in the past indeed had to trouble-shoot and identify which items were on which circuits.  The gateway, as it stands, appears to be plugged in over the last few years on a circuit where there are no issues in it gathering any data other than from the one distant garage circuit.

The area (or circuit(s?)?) I am complaining about, to try to describe it a bit better, came about like this:

The house was built 32 years ago by someone else, has 200 amps (I'm told this is double what was really needed or code?) and, if I understood correctly, it all (or most) went into a well-established panel that is about 50 feet away.  So far so good - no issues with how that was functioning.  When I went to install an EV Charge station in the garage (240 Volts at up to about 30 or 40 amps) we looked at the existing garage wiring and it just could not tolerate another load like that.  So, we drilled a hole in the concrete wall and created a new panel that took power directly (if I understood correctly) from the grid power coming into the home.... so bypassing what is going into the main established panel and decreasing power to it (if I understand correctly).  I don't remember the numbers, but I think there is about 50 to 100 amps going into that new panel (and does this decrease the power going to the old panel by the same amount?).  The new panel supports only the one EV charge station, maybe a few overhead lights, and another couple of sockets, though one of those sockets is also 240 Volts (such as if I want to plug in a second EV or perhaps a dryer someday).

So, in theory, everything has been kept very simple.  Because this new panel "bypasses" (as far as I know) the entirety of the old panel and system, I wanted to put a new TED5000 inductive coil on it, but at the same time I didn't quite process until later that this separateness of the new panel might also mean that PLC might be interfered with? 

There may be several ways in which I have not provided enough information, but one to clear up may be to explain that my garage is separated from the main house (where the main panel is) by anywhere from two to six to eight feet of earth and two concrete walls both of which are very difficult to drill through.  Further, we do not have some of the original plans (specifically - we have not figured out where the electric power comes from the main panel into the garage).   

On the main panel, the garage circuit breaker is just one switch and not two (maybe 10-20 amps?) and it was clear, when we went to look at what we needed to do, that in order to operate EVSE in the garage and not have an issue, that we needed to find a way to get more power into the garage.  The existing garage circuit we have left in place and it still powers most of what it used to power.

I was given some advice at one point that, if it all possible, I should avoid "messing with" the main panel, and so far I have done that.  This pertains not only to the relatively minor issue of the garage/EVSE but also to questions around the new solar inverter and batteries and related, and so this is why, for the moment, the entirety of my main panel is in theory tied-in to the peak amp limitations imposed by my inverter (around 33 amps I think) even if for 20+ years it was theoretically (as far as I know) up in that 150-200 amps range. 

I haven't had any prominent circuit breaker issues show up, whether before or after the modifications.  I can't remember the last time I tripped a breaker, if ever.

PS, edit: I just took a look at the new panel (the one that was put in for the garage modifications, so I could have a 240 Volt EV charge station) and when I put in my new solar inverter and batteries, apparently there were further modifications done to it.  On what appear to be four of the switches (grouped by 2) there is this spelled out:

"Photovoltaic Electric Power Source"
"Breakers are Backfed"
"Max Output 55 amps at 240 VAC"

Probably someone capable tried to walk me through the meaning of some of this 2-3 years ago, but it didn't properly take.  As far as I know, the charging of an EV at 120 Volts could be done from a different main-panel-fed battery-and-solar-fed circuit during an outage, but would not be done on the 240 Volt circuits.  Hopefully I'll get some good input this week from the consultant as to what can or cannot be done to extend the PLC-related device to reading the new panel, or whether I should get an alternative device. 

It may also be useful for people here to know that when dealing with highly technical issues, I tend either to need to hire someone to take care of it, or if I try to deal with it myself, I tend to not be impatient and not very capable, so that can help people here not spend time trying to come up with great ideas for how it could get done by me.  I'm just not very good, so far in this life, with DIY.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2016, 03:34:53 PM by jlsoaz »

SparWeb

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Re: question re: Building Energy Measurement Devices
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2016, 08:33:07 PM »
Jlsoaz,

Don't be so humble, we all had to start somewhere.

One thing you need, to make any progress at trouble-shooting, is a proper schematic of your system.  You have backfed breakers on (I think) a sub-sub panel in your garage.  What's backfeeding them is (or "will be") your solar inverter, I guess, but you don't say where that inverter, is so I am only speculating.  Figuring out what's going on will be difficult until the connections between panels and the major circuits are clarified.  A schematic would resolve this confusion.  Also, the act of making a schematic yourself would IMMENSELY help your own understanding of your system.

Backfeeding is normal - up to a point - when feeding power to the grid rather than taking from it.  Not necessarily a big deal.

Branching from the main panel to a sub panel is also common and not a big deal - if done correctly!  I have a similar setup, though my garage and house are separated from the pole by over 100 feet each.  The house panel is the typical thing; the garage panel is a nightmare that I've finally gotten around to ripping out and throwing away this summer.

You will have to convince me that the two electricians who have looked at your system know enough about solar PV installations or inverters to be helpful to you.  Don't take that as an arrogant statement - I've been fussing with this stuff for a decade and I still wouldn't offer professional advice (but informal DIY advice is OK!)

I think you have told me enough that I can figure out why your TED is confused.  The computer in the TED may be designed to measure a system that has a single line supply and no independent energy sources.  Give it inputs that don't fit that worldview and it doesn't know where all the electrons are going.

Have your electrician friends set up the provisions for an EV that you don't have yet, and don't know the specifications to?   ummm...  I'm a little concerned about that.
There are many reasons why DIY is good for your pocketbook.
No one believes the theory except the one who developed it.  Everyone believes the experiment except the one who ran it.

System spec: 135w BP multicrystalline panels, regulated by Xantrex C40, DIY 8ft diameter wind turbine, regulated by Tri-Star TS60, 800AH x 24V AGM Battery, Xantrex SW4024

jlsoaz

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Re: question re: Building Energy Measurement Devices
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2016, 11:40:30 PM »


Jlsoaz,

[...]

I think you have told me enough that I can figure out why your TED is confused.  The computer in the TED may be designed to measure a system that has a single line supply and no independent energy sources.  Give it inputs that don't fit that worldview and it doesn't know where all the electrons are going.

Thanks, but on this narrow point, yes, that makes sense.  That's why I'd like to just bypass the whole question and just get a new type of device, if that will do the trick.

On the broader points as to my overall system - everything seems to be working fine, other than the TED plc communications... I don't want to go looking for trouble with it, though to be sure I'll work with the new installer to understand it better so that when it comes time to replace batteries or for the system to get me through a local extended outage, I have improved understanding of things.


Have your electrician friends set up the provisions for an EV that you don't have yet, and don't know the specifications to?   ummm...  I'm a little concerned about that.

There is no reason to be concerned here (other than a minor issue I will go over with the installer).  My EV charge station has been in and working properly for the last 2-3 years.  I had a Nissan Leaf that I drove for awhile, but the lease expired.  I will get another plug-in at some point, perhaps a heavily used PHEV, once they dip below $5k-$10k.  The market is not really my speed right now because I tend to try to skip the early depreciation years and just buy and drive for the later economical years.  There isn't really anything to go over on the EV specs side... my station delivers up to 7.2 kW theoretically but it was a moot point with my Leaf since it could only accept 3.3 kW on the AC Level 2 connection.


There are many reasons why DIY is good for your pocketbook.

Thanks for the various points.  On the matter of cost, I guess I may look at it (somewhat) differently than you do.

jlsoaz

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Re: question re: Building Energy Measurement Devices
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2016, 12:57:21 PM »
quick follow-up:

I had a fresh-set-of-eyes recommended local installer over and the conversation quickly turned to bigger issues, so the question of the TED5000 and the PLC problems went to the background.  They did more or less confirm what I had suspected in my lesser-understanding way which is that the TED information in that one spot is not getting where it needs to go because of some complications in trying to push or pull information through some paths that are maybe going in the opposite direction of what the TED is looking for (that explanation may be botched or not helpful, but anyway, they more or less confirmed in their higher-understanding way what I had thought).

If we do follow up and work on some things, I'll see about trying to get the TED issues addressed along with larger projects.  I guess I'll also see if I can get them to do a schematic out of it, if I think of it.

One very separate thing that's a bit frustrating - I had this idea for a small solar panel overhang to replace a tattered old cloth overhang that is at my front door entrance (to shield from the rain and sun).  I think this would be nice feature for the house, including both how it would look and function, but I hadn't realized there might be structural engineering issues (the wind around here is, at times, very strong) and that part of the house has already had an expensive structural issue, so now I'm wary.  I guess everything doesn't go as we first conceive of it.  :-)
« Last Edit: June 19, 2016, 01:02:54 PM by jlsoaz »

george65

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Re: question re: Building Energy Measurement Devices
« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2016, 09:04:24 PM »

One very separate thing that's a bit frustrating - I had this idea for a small solar panel overhang to replace a tattered old cloth overhang that is at my front door entrance (to shield from the rain and sun).  I think this would be nice feature for the house, including both how it would look and function, but I hadn't realized there might be structural engineering issues (the wind around here is, at times, very strong) and that part of the house has already had an expensive structural issue, so now I'm wary.  I guess everything doesn't go as we first conceive of it.  :-)

I have been thinking of a similar thing.
Used 3-4 yo Panels are so Dirt cheap here, I did a cost comparison to erecting a veranda made from solar panels sealed together to form a roof as to the cost of a normal colour bond type metal roof. 
It would cost me about 25% more to do in solar than metal. All I would have to do is undermount  the panels and seal them together with silicone.
The framing can be the same, it's just the cost of used panels ( on average) is about 50% higher than the same coverage area in tin.  Of course the colour bond doesn't save or return you money. I figured even with a less than Ideal direction and pitch, it's still worth the small extra cost, particularly on an over cast day where you really want all the panels you can get and alignment is a very secondary concern due to the diffused light anyway.

In your case, could you not make up a simple and cheap support separate to the house?  If you are only going to put up 3-6 panels, you wouldn't need an overly complicated or expensive structure to support them. Make it free-standing or even connect it to the house to add support to the house rather than  the other way around.    ;D

jlsoaz

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Re: question re: Building Energy Measurement Devices
« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2016, 11:13:50 PM »
[....]

In your case, could you not make up a simple and cheap support separate to the house?  If you are only going to put up 3-6 panels, you wouldn't need an overly complicated or expensive structure to support them. Make it free-standing or even connect it to the house to add support to the house rather than  the other way around.    ;D

Agree that the costs would be moderate.  Heck, I just think it would look cool, so in theory the panels needn't even be connected.

In my case it would be just one large panel or two small panels, maybe 5 by eight feet or something like that.  I guess I could have someone take a look at erecting four poles or some-such.  On the one hand it seems a lot of trouble to go to in order to give the UPS person a chance to put the boxes under something else, or to give folks a shade while ringing the doorbell, but on the other hand, it could look cool.

Finally got finished this week with revisions to the battery, inverter, circuits, etc.  The only thing that didn't get fixed was that the TED still can't see some of the power use that it is separated from.  I have given up on that for now.