[LINK] Micro-inverters and Browser Monitoring Key to Solar Power

Tom Worthington tom.worthington at tomw.net.au
Mon Nov 15 10:20:37 AEDT 2010

stephen at melbpc.org.au wrote:
> Good software, Tom. Also in my opinion instead of expensive 'Smart Meters'
> perhaps mandatory Power Meters (with user-set-alarms like smoke detectors)
> to simplify and enable savings in normal household/soho energy footprints
> could perhaps have been better ...

Yes, smart meters are of more use to the power company than the
householder. This is a case of a highly sophisticated IT system
providing accurate and timely information, but which is of little
practical value to the customer.

A low cost plug in energy meter is useful for educating people on energy
consumption. Some of my students use such meters in the Green ICT 
course: <http://cs.anu.edu.au/courses/COMP7310/>.

But apart from education, meters are of little use for reducing energy 
consumption in the home. I have watched a householder using their smart 
meter energy monitor. What the meter did was make them miserable, by 
telling them how much power they were using, but not helping them do 
anything about it. Most of the changes they would need to make were 
difficult: new light fittings, new fridge, new stove, more efficient 
clothes dryer. Some of low cost options were lifestyle changes they were 
not willing to make: get rid of the clothes dryer, air-conditioner, or 
their children. ;-)

What would be more use are mandatory energy efficiency
standards for new homes and appliances, with more consumer education. 
Telling the consumer after they buy an energy guzzling home, or 
appliance, that it is expensive to operate is of little use.

Building smart appliances would also be useful. There have been off peak 
electric water heaters for decades. Electric hot water systems are being 
phased out, but cheap air conditioners are now causing a problem by 
overloading the grid. A simple solution would be to require home air 
conditioning to be limited to 2.2 kW at peak times (enough to cool one 
room). Those wanting to have more peak air conditioning could be 
required to pay the capital cost of the extra power capacity required 
(this would add about $30,000 to the cost of a $600 air conditioner).

> Aldi Weekly Specials: 
>  Tevion Power Meter  $14.99

I have a similar unit to this. Keep in mind they are designed to measure
high power appliances, such as kettles and toasters. They only measure
down to about 1 Watt and so are not useful for mobile phone chargers and
the like.

Tom Worthington FACS CP HLM, TomW Communications Pty Ltd. t: 0419496150
PO Box 13, Belconnen ACT 2617, Australia  http://www.tomw.net.au
Adjunct Senior Lecturer, School of Computer Science, The
Australian National University http://cs.anu.edu.au/courses/COMP7310/
Visiting Scientist, CSIRO ICT Centre: http://bit.ly/csiro_ict_canberra

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