Google, Energy Detective team up to monitor power use without a smart meter

Can't wait for a smart meter to measure your electricity consumption? Google and The Energy Detective may have the answer for you.
Written by John Dodge, Contributor

Can't wait for a smart meter to start closely monitoring your electricity consumption? Google and The Energy Detective may have the answer for you.

Google earlier this week said its PowerMeter software will run on Energy, Inc.'s The Energy Detective 5000, which captures and transmits home energy data like a smart meter from your utility. PowerMeter then massages the data, making it more visual and graphical.

The partnership is the first in what are sure to be more PowerMeter deals that Google will forge with device makers.

The key TED 5000 component is a transmitter attached to wires in the home circuit breaker panel. The transmitter sends the data to a WIFI router so it can be viewed in a personal computer browser (see diagram) for massaging by  PowerMeter.

Energy Inc. also offers wireless TED 5000 dedicated displays that plug into electrical sockets and use  ZigBee networking technology (300 feet line of sight is the range) although they would appear to provide a smaller subset of the data than PowerMeter. Consumption data can also be sent to cell phones.

The Google announcement on the deal was a bit misleading, showing what appears to be a fake handheld  device (pictured below) running PowerMeter and having nothing to do with the TED 5000. Energy Inc.'s site shows displays that resemble tabletop digital alarm clocks. More than likely, a user would employ a personal computer to use PowerMeter.

TED can be installed by a "technically-savvy homeowner (that's me)" but it involves removing the door of your electrical circuit breaker panel and clipping the transmitter leads to your two primary panel supply leads. The bottom of the instructions say "Serious injury/death could occur if you are not familiar with electrical components and operation of the circuit breaker panel. It is a very simple installation for an electrician."

Not the TED 5000

So much for the home handyman, but I have been in my electrical panel many times, adding circuits and looking for tripped breakers. While I would probably riska DIY installation, I am highly allergic to serious injury and death.  The TED 5000 also requires a bit of "simple" programming which is done from a computer.

Since the Google announcement, interest in the TED 5000 has been "overwhelming," according to Energy Inc. marketing director Melissa Lacas.

Ranging in price from $200 to $320, the TED 5000 looks like a cool product and one ripe for the times. PowerMeter is free.

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This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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