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Author Topic: HIVEMIND: Simple breaker panel load meter?  (Read 239 times)

Brad Johnson

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HIVEMIND: Simple breaker panel load meter?
« on: May 12, 2022, 11:35:21 AM »

I want to install a simple load meter at our breaker panel. I figured finding one would be easy since it's just a couple of clamps and a small digital or analog meter. I was wrong, or at least haven't found anything like yet. There's plenty of whole-home smart setups but I have no interest in them. It's a bunch of whiz-bang foofery I don't want or need. I'm also trying to stay away from anything "connected".

All I want is a readout of real-time gross wattage on a simple display I can mount on or adjacent to the panel. I prefer a digital readout I would settle for analog so long as it has decent granularity, say +/- 10 watts or so. 

Suggestions?

Brad
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Jim147

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Re: HIVEMIND: Simple breaker panel load meter?
« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2022, 11:37:50 AM »

An amp clamp on the incoming lines if you can get to them.
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Brad Johnson

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Re: HIVEMIND: Simple breaker panel load meter?
« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2022, 11:46:45 AM »

An amp clamp on the incoming lines if you can get to them.

I can do that now but it requires removing the panel cover. I want something that can be installed and left in place, a readout mounted to or near the panel with real-time data.

I've found a couple of industrial units which are the desired configuration but they are designed around monitoring a single circuit, not an entire panel.

Brad
It's all about the pancakes, people.
"And he thought cops wouldn't chase... a STOLEN DONUT TRUCK???? That would be like Willie Nelson ignoring a pickup full of weed."
-HankB

230RN

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Re: HIVEMIND: Simple breaker panel load meter?
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2022, 11:53:22 AM »

Given your stated need, I have no suggestions except to get a "Kill O Watt" meter

http://www.p3international.com/products/P4400.html

and apply it to the individual appliances.  AFAIK, this device only works for 110V equipment, though.  For 220 stuff, I reckon taking the published consumption and monitoring that by observing the on-times.

However, I'm curious about the need itself.  What's going on that you need to permanently monitor consumption at the breaker box?  (Once I ran around the house plugging my Kill O Watt meter into everything and got an idea of actual accumulated consumption for each, I never used it again: "My refrigerator is breaking the bank in hot weather" and that was all I needed to know.)

I've been missing "obvious" things lately, so enlighten me as to the need.

Have you called the power company with this question?
« Last Edit: May 12, 2022, 12:08:27 PM by 230RN »

Brad Johnson

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Re: HIVEMIND: Simple breaker panel load meter?
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2022, 12:11:48 PM »

Kill-O-Watt is good for measuring a single device but I want whole-home data, mostly to monitor for vampire loads. It's surprising how devices on standby, wall wart chargers, and keep-alive circuits can affect gross energy consumption.

Brad
It's all about the pancakes, people.
"And he thought cops wouldn't chase... a STOLEN DONUT TRUCK???? That would be like Willie Nelson ignoring a pickup full of weed."
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Hawkmoon

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Re: HIVEMIND: Simple breaker panel load meter?
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2022, 12:16:36 PM »

I can do that now but it requires removing the panel cover. I want something that can be installed and left in place, a readout mounted to or near the panel with real-time data.

I've found a couple of industrial units which are the desired configuration but they are designed around monitoring a single circuit, not an entire panel.

Brad

On the input side a panel is a single circuit.

Brad Johnson

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Re: HIVEMIND: Simple breaker panel load meter?
« Reply #6 on: May 12, 2022, 12:21:53 PM »

On the input side a panel is a single circuit.

Per incoming leg, yes, but I want to monitor the entire panel as a whole. This means inductors on both incoming legs. The simple metering systems I've found don't seem able to accommodate that, though I freely admit this type of setup is beyond my scope of direct experience.

*edit to add* Maybe install one simple monitor per incoming leg then just sum the readings?

Brad
It's all about the pancakes, people.
"And he thought cops wouldn't chase... a STOLEN DONUT TRUCK???? That would be like Willie Nelson ignoring a pickup full of weed."
-HankB

Nick1911

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Re: HIVEMIND: Simple breaker panel load meter?
« Reply #7 on: May 12, 2022, 12:25:15 PM »

I'm not aware of a product that meets your specs.  I'll tell you how I did it, though.

I ended up using a Continental Control Systems Wattnode WNC-3Y-208-MB.  This gives excellent data using two current clamps and two taps for voltage/frequency.

Unfortunately, accessing that data requires you to talk to it using modbus over RS485.  I did that with a D1 mini, an RS485-I2C bridge and about half a day of dickery.  Total cost was under a hundred bucks.  I have the D1 spitting out the data in JSON format, like so:

Quote
{ "EnergySum": 51593.76, "EnergyPosSum": 51591.52, "EnergySumNR": 51593.76, "EnergyPosSumNR": 51474.25, "PowerSum": -7.45, "PowerA": -237.07, "PowerB": 230.00, "VoltageA": 120.33, "VoltageB": 120.00, "EnergyA": 24837.87, "EnergyB": 26854.40, "EnergyPosA": 24966.92, "EnergyPosB": 26854.40, "EnergyNegSum": 2.24, "EnergyNegSumNR": 2.24, "EnergyNegA": 135.93, "EnergyNegB": 1.05, "EnergyReacSum": 2929.47, "EnergyReacA": -62.70, "EnergyReacB": 2996.44, "EnergyAppSum": 52750.26, "EnergyAppA": 25516.59, "EnergyAppB": 27354.60, "PowerFactorAvg": 0.01, "PowerFactorA": -0.80, "PowerFactorB": 0.69, "PowerReacSum": -429.47, "PowerReacA": -178.82, "PowerReacB": -250.00, "PowerAppSum": 429.78, "PowerAppA": 292.53, "PowerAppB": 346.00, "CurrentA": -2.44, "CurrentB": 2.87, "Demand": 386.88, "DemandMin": -11.12, "DemandMax": 20047.67, "DemandApp": 700.77, "DemandA": 20.98, "DemandB": 364.00 }

I probably should open source the code I put on that D1.

This gets polled every couple of seconds by a python script, which writes to a mariadb table.  I have grafana eating off that, to give me:
 

The solar stuff is another story.  No data is currently populated for it because that system is down due to other planned work.

Jim147

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Re: HIVEMIND: Simple breaker panel load meter?
« Reply #8 on: May 12, 2022, 12:55:13 PM »

There was a company in Canada that was called Ingenious something. That made something similar to what you want. I look in some of my old books and see if they are still in business.
Sometimes we carry more weight then we owe.
And sometimes goes on and on and on.

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dogmush

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Re: HIVEMIND: Simple breaker panel load meter?
« Reply #9 on: May 12, 2022, 01:00:11 PM »

https://www.nooutage.com//npz022.htm

Looks like what you are describing. It says "shipping in fall 2022". Not sure how fast you need it.

Or get an analog meter and some sensors from this page:
https://www.nooutage.com//metering.htm

Nick1911

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Re: HIVEMIND: Simple breaker panel load meter?
« Reply #10 on: May 12, 2022, 01:00:45 PM »

How about something like this:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/323579873177

Brad Johnson

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Re: HIVEMIND: Simple breaker panel load meter?
« Reply #11 on: May 12, 2022, 02:18:33 PM »

https://www.nooutage.com//npz022.htm

Looks like what you are describing. It says "shipping in fall 2022". Not sure how fast you need it.

Appears they're aggregating existing tech. I've seen that display under several names on Amazon. Looks about like what I want, though I would prefer clamp-type inductors. Whoever did their web page is definitely a product of the Netscape era.


How about something like this:
https://www.ebay.com/itm/323579873177

That's looks pretty much like what I envisioned, though I was hoping for a much, much lower price. At that price point it's getting into the smart home energy monitor segment. If that's the case, might as well go for the wireless-connected stuff.

Brad
It's all about the pancakes, people.
"And he thought cops wouldn't chase... a STOLEN DONUT TRUCK???? That would be like Willie Nelson ignoring a pickup full of weed."
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charby

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Re: HIVEMIND: Simple breaker panel load meter?
« Reply #12 on: May 12, 2022, 02:46:09 PM »

Would a stopwatch and watching your electric meter give you a good idea?
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Brad Johnson

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Re: HIVEMIND: Simple breaker panel load meter?
« Reply #13 on: May 12, 2022, 02:58:31 PM »

Would a stopwatch and watching your electric meter give you a good idea?

Yeah, but my eyesight sucks and I'm lazy.

Brad
It's all about the pancakes, people.
"And he thought cops wouldn't chase... a STOLEN DONUT TRUCK???? That would be like Willie Nelson ignoring a pickup full of weed."
-HankB

dogmush

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Re: HIVEMIND: Simple breaker panel load meter?
« Reply #14 on: May 12, 2022, 02:59:00 PM »

There's other options.

Here's a more basic digital meter with split core sensors: https://www.ebay.com/itm/323384260659  $145

You can get a 200A ammeter from Amazon for $25 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08Z87556M/  And pair it with a split core sensor if you don't want to unhook the mains: https://www.amazon.com/YHDC-Current-Transformer-SCT019-200A/dp/B01F8YLJCK

How many amps is your panel?

Brad Johnson

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Re: HIVEMIND: Simple breaker panel load meter?
« Reply #15 on: May 12, 2022, 03:26:14 PM »

You can get a 200A ammeter from Amazon for $25 https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08Z87556M/  And pair it with a split core sensor if you don't want to unhook the mains: https://www.amazon.com/YHDC-Current-Transformer-SCT019-200A/dp/B01F8YLJCK

How many amps is your panel?

That's more along the lines of what I envisioned. Simple and straightforward. Would be nice if it displayed watts and both service legs were summed on a single display, but whatever. I can't have everything and if it does what I need with minimum fuss and minimal cost, I can live with two displays and wattage calcs are simple. In a perfect world I could inlet the panel to mount the meters directly. No real bother, though. I can figure out something in that regard.

Panel is Cutler-Hammer 200 amp.

Brad
« Last Edit: May 12, 2022, 03:53:46 PM by Brad Johnson »
It's all about the pancakes, people.
"And he thought cops wouldn't chase... a STOLEN DONUT TRUCK???? That would be like Willie Nelson ignoring a pickup full of weed."
-HankB

dogmush

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Re: HIVEMIND: Simple breaker panel load meter?
« Reply #16 on: May 12, 2022, 03:50:56 PM »

If the panel is 200A total, you should be able to run both legs through the same sensor and get a total reading on one display.  (I think.  Pretty sure.  My AC induction theory is a little foggy, but the sensor should just read everything going through it from multiple conductors.)