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recording from gas water and electricity meters

Discussion in 'Electronic Basics' started by Andrew Vevers, May 31, 2005.

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  1. My electronic knowledge is stuck somewhere back in the 1960's so please bear
    with me.

    I'd like to monitor my household gas, water and electricity to a more
    sophisticated level than just occasionally going and reading the meter.

    Meters are available which emit a pulse every time a certain quantity of
    gas, water etc passes. I think I can handle this bit - either I persuade the
    utility company to fit them or I have my own downstream of the main meter.

    I want to capture the signal and store it in a device which can then
    download to a computer for processing with tables and graphs showing
    consumption figures.

    What do I need to do this?
  2. Tom Biasi

    Tom Biasi Guest

    You need flow meters and a software program, both of which there are
  3. mike

    mike Guest

    I did this a while back to monitor the electric water heater.
    Used a clamp-on AC current probe into a Radio Shack DVM with RS-232
    Interface into a laptop computer.
    Was interesting for about 20 minutes.
    If I were to do it over, I'd probably use a PIC processor on the current
    probe to log the data.
    But for cost, you can't beat a laptop. On a bad day, 386 laptops are a
    dime a dozen. On a good day, they're free.

    What is your objective?
    Collecting data is useless unless you're gonna change something based on
    the data. If you want to save money, use less. You don't need a
    computer to tell you that your hot shower costs money. Shorter showers
    means less cost.

    Here are some examples. I worried about the cost of the water heater.
    So I instrumented it. Then I discovered that the thermal time constant
    of a hot water heater is so long that there ain't much you can do by
    turning it on/off. Unless you're on time-based electricity cost...and
    you still don't need instrumentation to tell you when to turn it on/off.
    All you need is a cost/price/schedule list from the utility and a clock.

    Another interesting thing I learned was that the computer I was running
    all the time to play mp3s was costing me several bucks a month in
    electricity. Didn't need instrumentation to figure that out, but the
    instrumentation did give me cause to think about such things. You might
    spend more in instrumenting it than you can save.

    So I learned that thinking about energy use and minimizing it everywhere
    all the time was more important than trying to monitor it.

    "Sorry kids, you've used up your hot water allocation for today. Shower
    is off 'till tomorrow" just ain't gonna cut it.

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  4. Many thanks for the replies. I know that this might not ultimately make
    economic sense for home use, but I'm an environmental consultant. Mostly I
    advise industry on pollution problems. Sometimes I do water audits involving
    reading various meters around the works. I want to understand the technology
    involved in remote monitoring, without making expensive mistakes.
  5. Rich Grise

    Rich Grise Guest

    Then it would probably make sense to contact the utility companies, and
    see if they have any ideas on it. They might even already have something
    that does exactly what you're looking for, and they've almose certainly
    got many years' experience in the conservation department (pum unintended,
    but noted. :) )

    Good Luck!
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