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Thread: Electricity/Gas Meter Monitoring and Reporting

  1. #1
    Automated Home Sr Member John Winter's Avatar
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    Default Electricity/Gas Meter Monitoring and Reporting

    Folks

    I've successfully had Cortex monitoring my gas and electric consumption for some time now, using a photodiode for the electric meter, and an IR emitter/reciever for the gas meter, both linked to a LTH module with reflashed pulse count firmware.

    Listening to the radio the other day I heard an ad for British Gas 'Energy Smart' - essentially its a giveaway for a free wireless electricity consumption meter, and a mechanism for you to provide monthly meter readings for more accurate bills. Since I'm with BG on their dual fuel tarrif (and I'm a sucker for free tech), I thought I'd sign up. It seems you can send BG your gas and electric readings via web, text or email each month, and that got me thinking - 'could Cortex autmatically send emails to BG for me?'

    In order to achieve this, Cortex would have to know current meter readings, and increment a counter as appropriate. A monthly schedule could be set up for an email to be sent to a suitable template, to include the current gas and electric meter readings, based on the counter values.

    How possible do you think this may be? Does Cortex have such a counter somewhere, and can an email be scheduled as described?

    John
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  2. #2
    Automated Home Legend Karam's Avatar
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    Not so easy. It is not a problem to schedule e-mails with live data content, the problem is with the 'counter'. I'm presuming what you want is to essentially send an absolute meter reading at regular intervals. The problem is that we don't have hardware (yet) that continuously monitors the meter, is independently battery backed, and/or stores the records permanently. At present if you were to try and set up an absolute meter counter in Cortex to track the physical meter then it could easily get out of sync. e.g due to routine Cortex shutdown or any 'unroutine' events - since it would be Cortex which is accumulating the pulse count. Since the absolute meter count is a pretty important figure especially if being sent for billing purposes then our feeling is that it would be important that if presented within Cortex then it should not be easily prone to inaccuracies.

  3. #3
    Automated Home Sr Member John Winter's Avatar
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    Thanks Karam

    Fair point re 'unroutine' events etc....

    However, as I'm sure you know and will of course attest to ;-) - most of the time - Cortex is rock solid, as is its pulse count facility. I wonder if there's there any way I can 'send' that pulse count data to perhaps another piece of software that would accumulate the numbers for me? Would the oft discussed but little understood (by me) xAP be of any use?

    John
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    www.nodeone.blogspot.com

  4. #4
    Moderator Kevin's Avatar
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    Re xAP...

    There's a couple of feature requests that I popped into Vivian a while back that would pave the way for a solution, but I know the list must be very long with higher priority needs. One of these was the ability to maintain a meter count in Cortex along with some xAP accessibility to read/write it. Another was to make the hardware counter capable devices have longer than an 8 bit count. Having this continue to count even when IDRAnet was powered but wasn't running would be even better.

    Alternatively there are many ways of maintaining the meter count externally that xAP can report. One of the very cost effective ways is using DS2423 1-wire dual counters, these are fast enough and offer persistent battery backed operation and count retention. Reporting these via xAP could allow a Cortex meter object (if it offered a count) to maintain synch even if Cortex or the IDRANet network were restarted. As these count even when on battery backup they are a very effective solution.

    I currently do it a different way by counting pulses within a xAP hardware count device ( was Netiom now a different route via a C-Bus module) and periodically reading / storing / resetting the 16 bit count in a xAP node that runs on a reflashed network router. I have to read it at least once per day to avoid it cycling. The xAP node (OPNMax) runs 24/7 and uses very low power.

    Shortly I'm going to explore another couple of options ... 1) Using a Moxa IOLogik unit that offers 12 inputs with fast inbuilt counting and Ethernet based reporting smarts as well as non volatile count - this might reduce it to a single unit to report the meter counts or 2) using one of the mbed processor devices that I've been playing with a bit recently as tiny xAP nodes.

    There's also the Brultech ECM-1240 (limited 230V/50Hz availability) which is a purposed unit - it would need a bit of thought about interfacing to Cortex though.

    K
    Last edited by Kevin; 23rd December 2010 at 04:13 PM.

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