Monitoring power usage with CurrentCost

Last year i was very lucky to be given a CurrentCost power meter. Unfortunately the electrical board in the townhouse we were living in didn’t really have room to fit the clamp meter and as it had 3 phase power and we only had one clamp we couldn’t really use it properly. Yesterday I finally got around to installing it in the house we’re currently living in.

CurrentCost Meter (photo by Roo Reynolds)
CurrentCost Meter (photo by Roo Reynolds)

There is a wireless connection between the meter and the clamp which goes around the active cable coming out of the normal electricity meter.

Measuring Clamp (photo by PixelFrenzy)
Measuring Clamp (photo by PixelFrenzy)

Unlike most power meters available in Australia it is possible to connect a serial cable to display to get a live reading of the power used downloaded to a computer. Using a microbroker, rrdtool and a bit of perl as glue we know have 24/7 logging of electricity usage at about 30 second intervals from which we can create pretty graphs.

Breakfast
Breakfast power usage

Unlike our last house we have electric cooktops in the current place and you can definitely tell when I started cooking breakfast for Kelly on Sunday in the graph above. It probably cost us about 20 cents in electricity.

Our idle power usage is around 550W which is pretty high and we’ll hopefully be reducing it a bit once we start identifying exactly what is using the power. Looking at a snapshot of power usage overnight its pretty clear when the fridge/freezer thermostat kicks in though.

Fridge Power Usage
Fridge Power Usage

10 thoughts on “Monitoring power usage with CurrentCost

  1. Chris, intersting to read your blog about measuring your energy consumption. What is the software you are usining to represent your data. Also what is the voltage you have in Australia and cost per kilowatt hour.

    Regards

    Mark

  2. Hi Mark, I’m using rrdtool to store and visualise the data. We use 240V in Australia. I pay around 17-20c/kwH – it depends on how much we use – it starts out cheaper and gets more expensive as we use more.

  3. Hi Chris, I wondered where I could buy one of these meters in Australia, any ideas? (I’ve mailed their UK site to see if they’d ship to AU). Cheers, Pete

  4. I don’t know of a place you can buy them in Australia (a work colleague got one for me from the UK). Best bet is to get one shipped from the UK, though I have heard they may have a NZ distributor (but I don’t know who).

  5. Thanks Dan – that’s great news. Much easier to get them from Jaycar than overseas. Hopefully they’ll be stocking the new versions of the CurrentCost soon.

  6. Here’s a funny thing. I wasn’t getting any readings on my CurrentCost setup after installing it earlier tonight and was about to box it up to send back as faulty. Then Google turned up your very helpful article Chris, with the helpful installation picture by PixelFrenzy, causing me to move the clamp from a thick cable to the “live”/red one going to the fuse box, and now I’m getting readings! So here’s to you for taking the trouble to fully document the set-up for those of us too dozy to think clamp placement through. It’s obvious now why it wasn’t working when I first tried it.

  7. Jerry – glad it helped :-) At first I made the mistake of putting the clamp on the active wire going into the existing meter instead of the one out, only to discover later on that the old meter itself consumes a measurable amount of power.

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