Energy Monitoring System Badly Needed by Newbie

My part time home has electricity costing as much as $.43/Kwh. In Feb 2011, my electric bill was >$1100. Only with the help of other members of the MCV forum, did I manage to create a scene using a luup program to control my AC to minimize unnecessary AC usage. This script shuts off my AC if any of my sensored doors or windows is open for more than 60 sec or if my motion detectors doesn’t detect motion for > 20 min between 9 AM and 5 PM. I also set the minimum setting on both of my AC thermostats to 74F. AND I installed a solar thermal panel for domestic hot water. AND I put my hot water recirculation pump on a appliance module and only operate it for a total of 90 min/day. AND I only power my electric hot water tank for about 10 hours per day.

Despite these measures, in July 2013, my electric bill went from an average of $450-600/mo to $1,000. Then in Oct 2013, my electric bill was $1,240!!! (I could find no evidence of tampering with vera so I don’t think it was due to AC overuse. My best guess is that the excess consumption was from a faulty door seal on my refrigerator freezer or a faulty refrig/freezer mother board, both of which have since been replaced. My major appliances are an electric oven, microwave, stove top, 49" LED HDTV and four 32" TVs. I also have 5 ceiling fans and ceiling lights that are often left on by guests. I am back in the $450-600/mo usage range, which I feel is still too much.)

After a long fight with my developer run HOA, I will install a 600 Kw PV system in a few weeks (long story). I still want to find the causes of excess consumption and eliminate or minimize them.

I have followed this topic from a distance but was reluctant to put the wrap around clamps on my lines in my circuit box. Now I have an electrician who I can trust and can hire to do this. I am now keenly interested in selecting a power management/monitoring system and software to monitor and track usage. I have scanned this Power Management forum and have a very basic understanding of the concepts. I am looking for recommendations for the best hardware that will allow me remote monitoring and data collection and review. This project is probably beyond my capabilities so I am also looking for a consultant to help me install and implement such a system.

Recommendations on the best components (hardware, software, data storage, etc.) would be greatly appreciated. If you are interested in being my consultant send me a brief note on your experience in this area, your background and fees.

From my reading of this sub forum, I am leaning toward the Brultech GEM and the Ergy plugin. I like the ability to monitor and track energy use by appliances (or at least circuits) and whole house consumption, and my PV solar energy production. Ideally, I would like to add my solar thermal energy production. I have a Heliodyne Delta T Pro controller (connected wirelessly to the internet) for my solar thermal system with 5 temp probes and a pump to solar panel and 2 flow probes (flow into HW system and flow to solar panel). Integrating the solar thermal inputs are way too complicated for me and not a priority now.

The Ergy site indicates that upgrades are not available until after MCV finishes their latest upgrade. How long is this likely to last??

Thanks for any assistance that anyone can provide!

A few general comments in no particular order:

Comments on ERGY…
a) Stability - Historically ERGY has a habit of destabilizing Vera systems
I haven’t run it in a while, so maybe they’ve fixed those problems. Last I checked, and this was only 1-2 months back, it had become “even bigger” as a plugin, which tends to indicate it’ll use more system resources… but I didn’t measure impact, just observe the bloat (and it was significant at that time)

UI6 goes one step further, making it even harder to disable:

b) Privacy - ERGY used to send a LOT more data about your Vera system than they need.
Using an earlier version, where they were sending your data “unsecured”, I could see everything being sent over. This meant that I could see ALL of the things they were sending about your machine and, at that time, they weren’t all related to energy management.

ie. all your devices belong to us, type of stuff.

They’ve fixed the encryption, but who knows what data they’re grabbing from your system. One way to address this is for them to publish a full/open disclosure of what information they’re collecting, or to OpenSource their Plugin so we can see for ourselves.

The value is in the service “at the other end”, so [IMHO] there should be no issues with disclosing what they capture.

c) Support for Watt Measurement devices - Limited
The Brultech, CurrentCost, TED (etc) devices all use a MCV-provided interface to expose their current energy usage in Watts. These all work with the built-in Energy monitoring graphs (UI4/UI5, since removed from UI6) but ERGY doesn’t recognize them for some reason.

At last time I checked, ERGY doesn’t work with the Brultech Plugin (and CurrentCost AFAIK either), with no response from ERGY’s representative at the time:,9730.msg69678.html#msg69678;u=16138

It’s entirely possible they’ve addressed some of these issues/concerns, since it’s been a while since I’ve used them, so your mileage might vary from the historical viewpoint expressed above.

Comments on Brultech GEM…

a) If you need multi-channel, there aren’t many DIY options.
That’s the conclusion I came to a few yrs back, and while it’s getting better (slowly) this is still largely the case.
If I were doing a “new system” today, either for myself or for a friend, I’d still install a Brultech GEM unit IF I wanted multi-channel input.

That said, most people probably don’t need multi-channel inputs… but based upon what you’ve outlined it seems like a reasonable option for your use-case:

eg. needing to pin-point usage, over time with different usage-patterns based upon rental.

b) Don’t be afraid of the install process…
This is not something I would have said with the older ECM-1240 units, but the GEM is a LOT easier to install and the configuration tool is simpler/better for a normal user (something that really couldn’t be said for the ECM-1240 toolset)

The sparky’s I’ve run into had no problems with the sensors (“CT’s”) that need to put put into the Main and/or Sub-Panels. They’d often seen similar items in their commercial installs.

For the closed donut style ones, the process is quite simple (with the Panel facia off) and is done with the Circuits (or whole sub-panel) switched off. As usual, have this work done by a person authorized/skilled to do so per any local requirements. Brultech’s docs cover this item a lot, but I can tell you that these are easy to install 8)

The larger CT’s, or Split CT’s that go onto the main wires are a bit more finicky since you have to “open” them, clamp around the wire, and then close them. Again, can be done with the relevant circuit off (and triple checked!!) and, as always done by someone that meets local requirements 8)

c) Plan for power…
Oddly enough, you need to power the GEM unit. It has 2x plugs (one for Power, the other to determine Phase/Frequency IIRC) and oddly enough I didn’t have these close to my SubPanel where the GEM was installed.

I had a sparky add a GFI Socket just below the SubPanel to let me plug in the GEM, since the CT wires aren’t massively long, and the GEM is installed just next to the sub-panel - see pictures in my thread

d) Plan for connectivity…
I use a WiFi connected GEM. You’ll likely have a similar experience about connectivity “near” the Main/SubPanel(s). No surprises here, there isn’t any… So remember to account for this in your setup (either by adding low-voltage/Ethernet cabling, suitably separated from any High Voltage, or by using a Wireless Tech like WiFi)

e) Where is your Panel?
In my case, there is a SubPanel, which is the most obvious thing since it’s in the garage. Then there’s the Main Panel, which is just above the meter on the other side of the garage (and outside).

This is a PITA from a meaurement standpoint, since some loads are in the sub-Panel, and some are in the main-Panel… This is why I have 2x units (one GEM, one ECM-1240).

Bottom line, know where all of your [important] loads are. Are they all coming from a single panel or from multiple ones?

Collection vs Analysis vs Action…

For the most part, I’ve used my HEM components for [static] analysis of usage, followed up with [manual] tuning of various system components to reduce the loads.

Most of the key items from this static analysis have been put into this discussion:

I haven’t ventured much into the direct/dynamic automation of the system, based upon this data. You’ll see others discuss those options, like following up on Washing machine cycles (etc), but they’re typically less common than “when this light switch” type scenes that you’ll see elsewhere.

The biggest impediment here is the ability to store historical data, and then act upon some subset of that data.

In your case, this translates to a user-scenario more like:
Alert me when Power usage goes above 20kW in 24hrs

Perhaps the Data Yours plugin will transform to adding scene-based events :wink: Storing that amount of data directly on Vera, leads to it’s own set of issues however, so offshoring this data from Vera will be of great benefit to overall stability…

In the meantime, you might be limited to either point-in-time alerting/eventing (Native, Lua or PLEG), something “baked” into the Power monitoring plugin itself, or provided by one of the commodity monitoring services (like SEG)

My next step is SEG integration, probably directly and without Vera in the middle (Vera is not predictable/stable enough, unfortunately)… using a Raspberry Pi with some COTS integration components.

You may also want to reach out to Sean, since he does do a lot of automation/control around this type of data.

Existing energy usage…

After a long fight with my developer run HOA, I will install a 600 Kw PV system in a few weeks (long story). I still want to find the causes of excess consumption and eliminate or minimize them.

I think you meant 6kW, no? Or is it 600kW for the whole month.

The items that stand out to me for early analysis by your contractor (or yourself) would be:
a) AC usage, including Fan (for central)
b) How much draw the Electric Water heater pulls, esp since you’re running it 10hrs/day
c) How much the Lighting is drawing, esp if it’s not LED and you have large banks of lighting

Anyhow, once you select your system and get something in, these would be great forum discussions. I’m about to embark on the Solar PV route myself, so will be interested to hear your stories.

[quote=“guessed, post:4, topic:180966”]Perhaps the Data Yours plugin will transform to adding scene-based events :wink:

You may also want to reach out to Sean, since he does do a lot of automation/control around this type of data.[/quote]

While you can’t monitor Vera Scenes, you can in PLEG with the following DataYours command:

I monitor my whole home electricity and am currently without a whole home meter.

[ul][li]Deploy Aeon Smart Switch 15A appliance modules to your Fridge, HVAC unit, Home Theater, TV’s, and Washing Machine [/li]
[li]Determine using an amp meter at the panel how much energy your AC compressor draws. Use this data to adjust the cool cycle watts used (0,1000,0) in your thermostat z-wave device. You only need the his for cool as you HVAC central unit should have a Aeon appliance module [/li]
[li]Add a whole home energy meter. I am installing the Aeon HEM next week [/li]
[li]Add all UserSuppliedWattage variable to all your Z-Wave switches with their rated load wattage. This way you can discreetly monitor the Living Room lights (or approx given the dimming level)[/li]
[li]Use the calculated power plugin to add all your monitored devices[/li]
[li]Use the Use the calculated power plugin to use the formula: (Whole home HEM - Calculated devices) to show “vampire power usage” [/li][/ul]

Except for my 220v electric washing machine, I have every device over 5 watts per circuit monitored via a Aeon Smart Switch or like to provide granular workload reports.

This all gets uploaded to an Azure SQL Database for future processing in Excel.

PS - If anyone ever figures out a 220v sensor to monitor a washing machine or AC compressor, please let me know.

For a good summary of hosted Energy/Data graphing tools, see this document:

Each review is short, with key pros/cons, and has sample screenshots from the services so you can get an at-a-glance view of a large set of the services available.

The author also wrote a set of tools that collects and publishes Energy data (TED, EDS, Brultech) - either locally (RRD, SQLLite, etc) or remotely to the sites listed above.

and if you want to see the eye-candy you get when you monitor real power circuits, just checkout Teken’s thread:
My GEM, ISY, Dash Box, Insteon Home Automation Install -

lots of information, along with the pictures/analysis for problem areas. It’s long, and just comes as great background. He’s pushing the measurements into SEG, but he’s using a to-be-released product called a Brultech DashBox that makes the upload to SEG easier (I’m playing with a RaspPi, but it requires a lot more manual intervention to get it going)

As a side-note, one of the sparky’s I was chatting to the other day was pulled up to a house where they were experiencing $1000’s per month in Electrical charges (apparently it was a huge house). After poking around, it turned out that the Electric Water heater had been turned onto it’s highest-temp setting, and was running 24x7. It was a 240v heater, with a very large capacity, so it was burning through a ton of energy and pushing the customer into the 4th tier pricing (35c/kWh)

I had a similar situation, used to have 800$ bills in the summer. After working on this for a couple of years, I truly believe the most cost effective way to analyze your usage and start your journey too lower bills is installing the Brultech GreenEye Monitor, and preferable the Brultech Dashbox recorder. You really need the 32 channels to figure out where the watts are going. My “Balanced Payment Plan” (Pay the same per month year round) has gone from $330 to $180. Utilizing the data - and controlling devices via the Vera also allowed me to switch to a rate plan where KW’s are cheap EXCEPT 3-6PM weekdays, needless to say 3-6 my house pretty much goes into standby. If you would like to see what the Dashbox data looks like soo you can understand the granularity you get, see attached or PM me and I will let you look at mine

Yup, I use the GreenEye/ECM1240 combo for a while now. When they GA the DashBox I’ll likely get one of them as well, so I can keep the data locally and to have more off the shelf components.

It’s amazing what happens once you visualize this data. Vera has a built-in graph that’ll do the basics of letting people see their data, which is what I’ve used until now, but being able to drill into detail and slice the data is the real power of this stuff - it makes it a game to see how you can improve your usage.

Time-of-use (TOU) plans in Northern CA aren’t so nice, they’re quite complicated with large High/Medium cost bands throughout the day, and a ratcheting Tier’d payment system based upon total usage. Luckily I’ve managed to stay off the TOU plans so far.

Dear sir,

I noticed at the top of the thread that you created a scene whereby you shut off your AC if the doors or windows are open for more than 60 sec etc etc. I too have a holiday home where the AC is extremely expensive. Can you please advise me how to start with the script to do this? Many many thanks in advance.