PowerHouse Dynamics eMonitor Unboxing, Installation and First Impressions

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By Peter Troast - January 20th, 2010

NOTE: The eMonitor4 has been released, making this best-in-class energy monitor even better.

Yesterday we installed the the PowerHouse Dynamics eMonitor, the most recent entrant in the home energy electricity monitoring category for consumers. The eMonitor, in addition to providing whole house data on your electricity use, is unique in that it also measures each circuit. This means you can isolate and see energy data for specific appliances, individual rooms, and anything else that lives on its own circuit.

We've only been seeing the data for 18 hours, so stay tuned for more analysis of the circuit by circuit functionality as our family immerses in this new wealth of energy information. Early indicators are interesting, however. The kids' rooms can now be tracked individually. My daughter, who doesn't like to lose to her brother at anything, got dressed in the dark this morning.

eMonitor in the box

The components are efficiently packaged and well protected. Interior packaging is corrugated. No plastic.

eMonitor in its corrugated packaging - no plastic

The brains of the product are the eMonitor itself. Black tube provides a convenient way of organizing the wires after installation.

Component parts of the PowerHouse Dynamics eMonitor

The components are: 1) the eMonitor; 2) two spring loaded 150 amp sensors for the main power that measure the entire usage; 3) 22 split core circuit by circuit sensors (9 50 amp and 13 20 amp); 4) an AC power adaptor; 5) ethernet cable for connecting eMonitor to your router; 6) a very thorough and well written Installation Guide. (In addition to these parts, it also comes with some handy bits and pieces to help with the install--wire ties, screws, a gasket for the electric box and a tube to organize the wires. The only tool required is a screwdriver.)

C Clamps for the PhD eMonitor

Two spring loaded sensors are used to measure the whole house electricity (or that going to the particular box if you have a multi-box set up). The spring loaded jaws simply clip around the main incoming power lines, directly over the insulated part of the wire.

Circuit sensors for the PhD eMonitor

The circuit sensors are smaller and clip around the insulated wire or wires to each circuit with a  simple clasp system. The base system comes with 22 total sensors.

PowerHouse Dynamics eMonitor connected to the circuit box

Here's the complete setup once all the circuits are connected to the device. The wires are then connected with a simple locking snap clip to the corresponding channel on the eMonitor.

The eMonitor fully connected

Using the pull ties and provided tube, it's easy to organize and condense the wires for a neat, orderly look.

PowerHouse Dynamics eMonitor with AC adapter and ethernet cable

Here's the final install, with cover back on (phew!) and showing the AC adapter and ethernet cable out to the router. 

Note on installation:

The folks at PowerHouse Dynamics say the install should only be done by a licensed electrician and we agree. (Depending on jurisdication, this may be code.) Though it is an extremely simple set up, it does require removing the panel from your electric box. Of course, all the work is done with the main power off. That said, it is extraordinarily simple and quick. The only part of the process that takes any time at all, really, is thinking through the circuits, organizing the channels and being sure you record which is which for later entry into the setup wizard. My guess is a typical electrician doing this setup would be in and out in 30-45 minutes. 
 
Stay tuned for more information as we begin to use the eMonitor and integrate its information into our lifestyle and behavior. And we're planning more video too -- we shot the entire install. 
 

For those wanting more information about eMonitor, including pricing and availability, please click here.


Comments

This is cool! What's the cost? Posted by Marc Rosenbaum on Jan 21, 2010 3:03am
Hi Marc, We're resolving final pricing with the PowerHouse Dynamics folks in the next week. I will let you know as soon it's done. We're in the process of recording our observations as a family as circuit by circuit data becomes part of our daily routine. I'll be writing more about that. Early indicators are that the granularity (vs whole house monitoring we've been doing for some time) is powerful. Hope you are well, Peter Posted by energycircle on Jan 21, 2010 3:22am
Very cool, Peter. Does this mean I'm going to wish I had this instead of the TED5000 we just purchased? I definitely look forward to the next layer of info. Phil Posted by philkaplan on Jan 21, 2010 3:50am
Phil--per my response to Marc, pricing isn't final yet. But it will be a jump from the TED 5000 pricing, that much is given. Obviously, as is our standard policy, we'll take care of you if you want to trade for the eMonitor. Peter Posted by energycircle on Jan 21, 2010 4:55am
I have a sub-panel in a separate location from my main panel. Are there any provisions with this system to handle that? If that is possible, I would seriously consider this instead of the TED 5000 I have on order. Also, how well does this system handle a PV/solar setup with net usage vs. generated power reporting? The PowerHouse Dynamics site is still a little light on details, but I'm totally sold on the idea behind this product. Posted by ebrown7 on Jan 21, 2010 9:00pm

My electrical box is outside. Does that mean I couldn't use this because the wires, being exposed, would be vulnerable to damage?

Posted by energycircle on Jan 22, 2010 4:39am
When are you going to post the video of the install? I am interested in this product as well. How much of a price difference vs the TED 5000? I read an article on CNET magazine (December 2009) where the CEO of Power House Dynamics stated the price would b around $600.00 plus a monthly fee. FROM CNET Magazine: "The cost of the system will vary depending on the retail channel and added services but Flusberg said the price will be about $600 plus a monthly fee of $8. " Posted by JRBGLB on Jan 22, 2010 5:08am
When are you going to post the video of the install? I am interested in this product as well. How much of a price difference vs the TED 5000? I read an article on CNET magazine (December 2009) where the CEO of Power House Dynamics stated the price would b around $600.00 plus a monthly fee. FROM CNET Magazine: "The cost of the system will vary depending on the retail channel and added services but Flusberg said the price will be about $600 plus a monthly fee of $8. " Posted by JRBGLB on Jan 22, 2010 5:11am
First the disclaimer: I am not an electrician and I have not actually seen the eMonitor control box.I think you have two options for your situation. If you have an available wall location on the internal wall behind your main circuit panel, you can mount the control box there and route the wires through the back of the circuit panel.Alternatively you may be able to mount it into a weatherproof enclosure designed for electronics. You will likely need to run the sensor wires either through the wall behind the panel or in a conduit run between the panel and enclosure.Here's one weatherproof enclosure that I found doing a quick Google search. I have no direct experience with it: http://www.automationdirect.com/adc/Overview/Ca....)Eric Posted by ebrown7 on Jan 22, 2010 2:36pm
Very nice Peter, open4energy will add this eMonitor to the list of energy monitors we publish, and put a link to this posting for our readers. It will be interesting to see the outcome of the manufacturers like Tendril who are working with the utilities in partnership with Silver Spring Networks and products like this being sold direct to consumers. I do hope they will all work together as we go forwards? Warning, as Peter has mentioned there are many scams doing the rounds. The most sophisticated of these is power factor correction. You will notice that the circuits have a power factor of as lows as 65% for circuits with mostly CFL bulbs, to 79% for circuits with electric motors, and 100% for circuits with incandescent. For a detailed understanding of power factor: http://open4energy.com/forum/home/scam/power_factor_correction Google "energy saving scams' if you are unsure, you will see the postings that can be depended on! Posted by open4energy on Jan 22, 2010 8:22pm
What happens if you do not have an Ethernet cable close and router on the same level as the utility box? My router is on the top floor, whereas the utility box is in the basement. Can the unit be connected to the router wirelessly? Posted by comptalk on Jan 24, 2010 1:02am
@bayoubaby--the PowerHouse Dynamics folks are working on a weatherproof box specifically for the eMonitor. I've made a note to keep you informed as soon as there are specs, pricing and availability. Posted by energycircle on Jan 24, 2010 12:45pm
@comptalk--For cases like yours where a long cable won't work, the PowerHouse folks have spec'd and tested a low cost ethernet bridge approach. We're exploring how broad the need is for this, and whether we can leverage some volume buying to keep the cost low. Posted by energycircle on Jan 24, 2010 12:55pm
What do you recommend I do in the meantime? Not really wanting to purchase a TED5000 PLUS the eMonitor service. Posted by comptalk on Jan 24, 2010 12:58pm
@ebrown7--the eMonitor accommodates electric generation, such as PV or wind, as long as that generation is brought into the electrical panel and have their inverted power output directly connected to the breaker panel, normally via a double breaker. Channels 3-6 can all be set as input channels. Nothing being generated here at our house, so I can't speak first hand on this but one of my neighbors with PV wants one immediately and has agreed to report on it. Posted by energycircle on Jan 24, 2010 1:06pm
I'll have Lisa get in touch directly regarding your TED order. We'll accommodate however you'd like to work it out. Thanks. Posted by energycircle on Jan 24, 2010 1:24pm
This looks pretty interesting... does anyone know if there will be an open API or some other way to integrate with Home Automation systems such as CQC or MainLobby? If so, this looks to be awesome. Posted by Mark J on Jan 26, 2010 4:45pm

@ Mark J: the PowerHouse Dynamics (PhD) team tell me their immediate plan is to provide the equivalent of an API in the form of an XML Export Specification which feeds data from the eMonitor to a home control/automation system in real-time. The system manufacturer – or an installer with adequate knowledge of the system – is then responsible for formatting the eMonitor data for the system display. Savant has done this integration, and PhD is currently working with several additional home control/automation vendors with whom they expect to make announcements in the coming months.

And yes, we all would welcome input from home automation users. If you'd like me to pass on your name, please feel free to email me at ptroast at energycircle.

Peter Troast, EnergyCircle

 

Posted by Peter Troast on Jan 27, 2010 2:34pm
I see an antenna on the device. What is that for? Posted by MikeK on Jan 30, 2010 2:23pm

@MikeK. The antenna is zigbee out for future add on devices--display, smart plugs, etc.

PT

Posted by Peter Troast on Feb 3, 2010 12:44pm
Is there an API, so I can view the actual power readings myself from the main, and each circuit? The TED has an API. And that is a huge plus for folks wanting to do some of their own charting, analysis, etc. I'd like to see the same here for this product. A basic API to see second, minute, and hourly power. Posted by MikeL on Feb 5, 2010 9:12am
Any update on availability of this? When I saw it orginally on this old house, it was supposed to be out in December, then saw news it was scheduled for January... Any update on availibility? For the record, I would also be VERY interested in an API. Soemthing that could get realtime data would be fantastic. Posted by Kevin Vandecar on Feb 8, 2010 10:35am
Overall, I see no reason to purchase this product. It has an antenna that doesn't function. It doesn't have all interfaces working yet, and is 2 times the price of competitive systems Posted by Jeff M. on Feb 24, 2010 12:42pm

@Jeff M. The zigbee antenna is for future add on features and functions, such as displays, smart plugs and thermostats. It's an indication of the extensibility of this system and the ambitious roadmap that the Powerhouse Dynamics team has for the product. As to price competitiveness, the eMonitor doesn't really have a peer with respect to the circuit by circuit monitoring capability, unless you consider the more commercially oriented energy management systems that cost substantially more.

Posted by Peter Troast on Feb 25, 2010 12:15am
What's the service charge for? Posted by prospect on Jul 27, 2010 4:48pm

Hello prospect,

A: Specific features of the energy monitoring & mgmt services include:

  • High quality web user interface with useful graphing and charting, comparison and aggregation
  • FREE access to all new Service features automatically as they become available
  • Ongoing automated diagnostics of your circuits and appliances performance, safety, energy use and cost
  • Actionable recommendations to conserve power/lower costs based on usage by specific appliances/circuits
  • User-configured notifications and alerts (via e-mail or text message) related to safety, usage or cost.
  • Real-time and historical analytics and reporting on:
    • Usage (overall and by circuit/appliance)
    • Cost (overall and by circuit/appliance, including phantom/vampire power)
  • Carbon footprint and other views of the cost of electrical use.
  • Remote control and optimization of:
    • Smart outlets (late 2010)
    • Smart thermostats (Q3 2010)
  • Monitoring of renewable energy sources, including real-time and historical production, usage, and potential problems.
  • iPhone/iPad interface (Q1 2011)
  • Collection, backup, and storage of data to a secure location
Posted by Lisa on Jul 27, 2010 4:51pm
what models are the two spring loaded CT sensors and circuit CT sensors Posted by Todd on Jan 4, 2011 11:39am

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