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Old 11-19-10, 06:10 PM   #1
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Default Home energy data logging project

Yesterday I saw that onterio will be increasing the electric bills 46% over the next 5 years as they phase out coal and go renewable. We don't have coal to phase out but are expecting similar increases in the future. The city recently announced millions in water infrastructure updates and they will be billing that not through property taxes but on water usage. In both cases the more you use the worse the hit will be.

So today I decided it's time to get off my *** and get really serious about consumption logging and reduction. We've done pretty good on the electric front but more can be done I'm sure.

Water wise we discovered a break in the main on the cities side of the meter so they'll be digging that out and fixing it shortly. While spending all this time looking at the meter I decided to throw the reading into my spreadsheet and see how we're doing since I got a bill just a month ago. It reports that we're using a lot of water. 200 gallons a day almost which is comparable to my dead of summer watering 1000 sqft of gardens and 14 fruit trees water usage. So I waited 24 hours, and checked again. Since then we've used 52 gallons. Thats with 2 of us having long showers but no laundry or dishwasher. My best guess is they don't actually read the meter 3 times a year and instead average things for the billing. We'll see.

Anyways since I want to do data logging and realtime monitoring of our usage today I ordered an arduino mega microcontroller kit off of ebay. I'm sure it's a chinese knock off but my morals no longer care so long as it works. the unit was 30% the price of an official one. I also ordered up some hall effect current sensors from a small place in the US. Later tonight maybe I'll pick up a bunch of temp sensors.

The plan is to wire up and monitor the following
Electric dryer consumption
Electric hot water heater consumption
cold room temperature
basement back temperature
basement front temperature
bedroom 1,2,3 upstairs temperature
upstairs living room temperature
outside backyard temperature
water from mains temperature
water from hotwater tank temperature

That is a good start to let me know what is going on beyond what my kill a watt can tell me.

As I've been slowly piecing my solar hotwater setup together(read that as I've got a stack of copper pipe, some glass and a tank) I'll use the arduino as the differential controller and some more logging. In the logging it will track
solar tank top temperature
solar tank bottom temperature
trench temperature
pipe to collectors start temperature
collectors inlet temperature
collector outlet temperature
collector surface temperature
plus more I've forgotten I'm sure.

eventually I'd love to put a water meter with digital outputs in line on the main but they are not cheap last time I looked.

My goal is to use this thread to organize my thoughts and flesh out design as I SLOWLY chunk through all of this. I'm a software guy not electronics so a bunch of this will require some research. Looking at the arduino stuff the code is trivial and I've seen some pretty cool web linking so I'd like to try that. The hardware is not too brutal looking but I'm doing my best to stay in the realm of already been done and here's the step by step tutorial on how to make it work.

The pieces I've selected so far are
hall effect current sensors - Linear BiPolar Hall Effect Current Sensor +/- 80 Amps I ordered 4 shipped for $26.40

maxim ds18b20 one wire temp sensors - 2 free samples so far ebay has them shipped for under $2 each if you order more then 10

the arduino ATmega with a 128x64 LCD screen and a bunch of starter electronics stuff that may be useful since I don't have much of it. Arduino ATmega 1280 128x64 Graphic LCD Mega Starter Kit - eBay (item 150521034176 end time Dec-16-10 04:19:03 PST) $68 after shipping.

When everything arrives I'll do some basic testing and get a couple of temp probes working and measure some electrical currents that I can verify against the kill-a-watt before I hook up the 220 appliances.

I'll have to decide what I want to do wire wise for all of this stuff. for things like the solar panels cat5 may work, but multiple runs of simple twisted pair may be cheaper. We'll see what home depot is carrying.

This should be fun. I've only been wanting to do it for a couple of years now...

strider3700 is offline  

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