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Device Created for Precisely Monitoring Power Use

Category: Science & Technology
Posted: 12:45PM

Depending on how high it is, if you have had to pay an electric bill, you have probably asked yourself about where all of the power is going, to hopefully cut down. Answering this question is harder than you might think though, because of what is involved in actually getting the data, but researchers at MIT are working to change that. They have created a monitoring device about the size of a postage stamp that can be zip-tied onto a power cord, and then make measurements from the electric and magnetic fields around it.

Wireless devices like this have been developed before, but have had the cumbersome requirement of carefully aligning them on the cord. This MIT device solves that by having five offset sensors and software the selects the one getting the best signal. The data it captures can then be analyzed to determine how much power a device is using, and if there are any anomalies. During one of its tests it actually identified a wiring problem in a house that was putting a potential dangerous voltage on a copper pipe. This analysis though is not done remotely; all of the data can remain at the user's home, abating any privacy concerns as well as bandwidth issues, considering how much raw data is collected.

The hope for this device is that it will become cheap enough to produce and the applications for analyzing the data will become common enough, that anyone will be able to optimize the power usage within their home. This could come from adjusting habits or replacing particularly inefficient appliances to better models.

Source: MIT

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ivangela on August 01, 2016 20:37

There is  a commercially available device called Sense that supposedly can tell what each device in your house draws by differentiating between slight frequency variations, I believe. I'm not sure that's how it works, I read about it a while ago but pretty interesting nonetheless. I ended up with a cheap kill-a-watt as this product was pricey.

Guest_Jim_* on August 01, 2016 21:03

I didn't fit it into what I wrote, but this device too can identify appliances based on how they draw power.

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