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

stephen at melbpc.org.au stephen at melbpc.org.au
Mon Nov 15 17:05:05 AEDT 2010

Tom writes,        

> > mandatory Power Meters (with user-set-alarms like smoke detectors)
> > to simplify and enable savings in household/soho energy footprints
> .. 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 .. What the meter did was make them miserable, not helping
> them do anything about it. Most of the changes .. were difficult ..

Yes, of course, i understand what you're saying. However, one finds it
annoying that of 4 resources, electricity, gas, water and petrol, only
petrol is easy for the consumer to effectively monitor. How can people
reduce usage if they themselves can't readily monitor and so fine-tune
how much they're using? We need *easy-to-use* household feedback units.

We ALL need to reduce usage of ALL these four resources, yet, have few
tools to assist in this, except for the pay-on-the-spot petrol bowsers.

> There have been off peak electric water heaters for decades .. 

Yes, I have one. However, when i phoned my electicity supplier and told
them my night-rate meter was waaay off-time, and asked that they send a
service person to set it accurately, they were surprised. They did just
that and sent someone but he was un-impressed at this 'strange' request!

>.. cheap air conditioners are now causing a problem by overloading the
> grid. 

Not long ago i well remember being in a *major* retail hardware supplier
and for interest enquiring about a cheap split-system air-conditioner on
display. The salesperson, himself an ex-tradie, quietly said, 'don't buy
it, they're rubbish. For example all the bearings are el-cheapo sintered
bronze, instead of proper sealed ball-bearing units.' I can well imagine
the power usage of even just a half-worn set of compressor main bearings
sometimes running 24/7 during summer.

> a simple solution would be to require home air conditioning be limited
> to 2.2 kW at peak times (enough to cool one room). 

Yes, exactly the very satisfactory arrangement that i now have here. Two
such top-quality but low-power split systems, at either end of the house.
And i must say although i sympathize with Ivan's suggestion, they really
are a health and safety item. In summer, it gets *hot* here where i live.

> > Aldi Weekly Specials: 
> > Tevion Power Meter  $14.99
> 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

But, my point is, slightly more modern and sensitive units, complete with
user-enabled alarm-trip-points, so that normal home owners do have simple
ways to fine-tune power usage. Eg, switch on an acceptable appliance-load
and set the power meter as being a 'normal' load. Then, as the unit trips
and over-load-alarms, either turn off appliances, and / or reset 'normal'.

If such units also cease their audio alarm when household power use drops
again, people will be immediately 'rewarded' for any power saving actions.
That's *exactly* what we need. An easy way to monitor, and fine-tune, use.

My point is that normal consumers have no ready means to see how much gas
electricity and water they are using at any one time. Sure, such info may
be of little interest, for some, but, i think the average Aussie may well
act on any such information. Eg, try different gas-hot-water temperatures?


"Civilization is just a slow process of learning to be kind."  Charles L.
Lucas, (1613 – 1648).

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