Internet-connected home energy monitor

This is a magic box which will let you monitor the power consumption of your house from anywhere on the Internet! It measures both true power (Watts) and apparent (VA) power, it keeps a running total of electricity units used, and measures mains frequency as a bonus.

The project uses a Particle Core(*) module – a little board with an ARM microprocessor and a Wi-Fi interface – to do all the hard work. To build it, you’ll need to be able to solder and follow a simple circuit diagram. At UK prices, total parts cost should be no more than £50.

Internet-connected home energy monitor

The project was designed for 230V 50Hz (European) mains circuits, but with suitable calibration ought to work on US or other systems.

* – until a few days ago, Particle were known as Spark. You’ll find ‘Spark’ sprinkled throughout the supporting files for this project – please be assured these are the same thing!

You’ll need the following major components:

The Particle Core (a.k.a. Spark Core) module

This comes in a nice little kit with a breadboard and USB lead. You can buy one direct from Particle at, from Adafruit, or in the UK the cheapest I’ve found is from CPC.

There are two versions of the Core – one with a built-in ‘chip’ antenna, and one with a u.FL socket for an external antenna. I’ve found the built-in antenna is fine anywhere in my house where there is normal (“two or three blobs on an iPod”) Wi-Fi reception. The external antenna would be better for poor signal areas (e.g. an outbuilding) but you’ll have to add the cost of a separate Wi-Fi antenna and a u.FL ‘pigtail’ lead.

AC Current Sensor

This is a small magnetic device which clamps over a current-carrying mains conductor, and produce an output voltage which is proportional to the current flowing in the wire. The one I used was for an Owl home energy monitor, but you can search Amazon, eBay, etc, for ‘AC Current Sensor’ for a variety of alternatives. Make sure you choose one with enough maximum current capability for the load you’re wanting to measure (e.g. 30A = 7kW approx). Please note – you don’t want to use a ‘current shunt’: these are not isolated from the mains itself and cannot be used in this design.

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