SMART energy monitors are helping create carbon efficient homes by giving consumers more flexibility and information regarding energy use.
Electronics engineer Tisham Dhar began building compact smart energy monitors in his South Australian garage as a hobby and has started selling them internationally. He is now searching for investors to scale up and launch the products commercially.
Dhar said his monitor’s unique design allowed it to work independently from mains electricity in times of power failure.
“It’s extremely cost efficient and I sell the whole stack for about $50,” Dhar said.
“It shows you where the majority of your energy usage is coming from so you can stop using high energy consuming devices. It also shows people their energy usage history over several months and uploads the information to the internet where they are able to track it.”
“If your power cuts out, and you have this set to record 3G networks, it will record the fault and contact the power network without you having to call them yourself.”
The energy-monitoring package is a collection of components including the monitor, a processing module, a wireless unit for connectivity, a backup battery, a shell casing and an optional LED display.
Dhar’s energy monitor uses its Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity to transmit the energy usage data to en energy tracking website Thingspeak.com where the consumer is able to access the information anytime. This allows users more privacy and gives them the option to run their data storage server in-house instead of having to use the device manufacturer’s server.
Other contemporary smart energy monitors can cost between $75-$150 but do not allow the same level of data access or privacy.
Smart monitors are part of the Internet of Things movement and are the latest in energy measuring devices. They are more efficient than their predecessors because of the ability to transmit data, receive commands, monitor supply and communicate with other appliances.
The monitors can also be used to help buildings and offices save on energy and reduce carbon emissions.
Dhar said he received about two to three orders a day and had sold his products to numerous countries including the United Kingdom, Switzerland, South Africa, Singapore, and the United States.
“People have mostly been using these things to monitor the activity of their solar panels,” he said.
“The normal monitor will report every half an hour but my monitor has higher granularity, so it makes an energy reading every 20 seconds. All the information can be seen using your mobile phone or tablet.”
The machine is set up alongside the fuse box and an attached transformer samples the voltage and isolates the monitor against spikes in the main supply.
It is protected from harmful weather conditions like heavy rain or snow because of its shell casing.
Dhar said all instructions relating to the machine were available online, but it did require a professional electrician to install the device.
He creates the monitors in his garage and currently sells them at cost in a bid to find a niche and constantly make improvements.
“I am looking at commercialising in the next year or two, but I would need a significant investment,” he said.
“I am entering South Australia’s Low Carbon Entrepreneur Competition and hopefully that will open new doors, and help get me connect with investors and mentors.”
South Australia's Low Carbon Entrepreneur Prize has been announced as the first initiative of the Adelaide to Zero Carbon Challenge.
The Adelaide to Zero Carbon Challenge is seeking ideas and innovative solutions from around the world that can be implemented to cut greenhouse gas emissions in South Australia’s capital Adelaide to help it become the world’s first carbon neutral city.
Dhar's products and contact details are available on his blog Whatnick.com.