Plugwise Energy Monitoring and Saving
Plugwise Energy Monitoring And Saving
Find out about the Plugwise system for energy monitoring and control of individual applianceshome
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In our article Bwired Energy Usage and Home Automation
we looked at a home in the Netherlands which uses the Plugwise
system to track electricity usage and control individual appliances. In this article we will look in more detail at Plugwise.
is a system which enables the electricity usage of individual appliances to be monitored in real time wirelessly. While a basic plug-in power monitor
enables the electricity consumption
of an appliance to be monitored, and devices such as Owl
enable whole house (or office) consumption to be tracked wirelessly, Plugwise
goes one stop further.
The Plugwise system is made up of three components pictured above and described below:
- a plug which goes between the plug of an appliance and the mains power socket.
- a USB device which is plugged into a personal computer and receives data wirelessly from the Circle(s)
. This Stick
can also transmit instructions wirelessly to Circles
to turn appliances on or off.
- a Circle
which contains a real-time clock and battery. Circle+
is used to co-ordinate the Circles
within the network. This also acts as a regular Circle
as described above.
- software which is installed on the computer to process the collected electricity consumption data in realtime, display it numerically and in charts, and log it for later analysis. The Source
software is also used to manually or automatically turn appliances on or off.
communicate with one another and with the Stick
via the ZigBee
wireless communication protocol. This protocol (not to be confused with Bluetooth
) is designed for applications where low data transmission rates
are acceptable, long battery life
is essential, and secure networking
is required. (Click here to view the ZigBee
article in Wikipedia
for more information).
form a mesh
network between themselves and the Stick
. As the transmission range of ZigBee is limited, tranmissions from Circles
distant from the Stick
are sent by the shortest available route via other Circles
located nearer to the Stick
has a unique ID code. Using the Source
software you simply enter the name of the appliance plugged into each Circle
having noted the ID codes, and you can start tracking electricity consumption
The Benefits of Plugwise
is primarily designed as an energy saving
product. By being made aware of where electricity is used in the home and office, it is possible to identify ways to reduce consumption. With average consumpion of 3500 to 5000 kWh (units) of electricity per year for the average European household, Plugwise predict huge savings of 500-600 kWh are possible.
Since Plugwise can be used to turn appliances on and off (as well as measuring their electricity consumption), it opens up the unique possibility of Peak Shaving
. At present when there is a surge in demand for electricity, suppliers struggle to meet it. In California for example, this has already led to serious power blackouts
. Peak Shaving
reduces peak demand by automatically switching off certain (non-critical) appliances in homes and offices when demand for electricity is about to exceed supply. Consumers who sign up to peak shaving programmes can expect reduced tariffs
For those on electricity tariffs
with different pricing at different times of the day, the Plugwise Source
software can be set up to schedule
tasks to benefit from the lowest rates - e.g. starting the dishwasher at night. This reduces the cost of electricity
for the consumer, and again reduces peak demand
for the utility company so that less new power stations will need to be built.
New Plugwise Products
By the end of 2008 additional Plugwise
components will be added. These include Switch
- a battery powered wireless double switch
which can be programmed (using Source
software) to control multiple lamps and appliances at the same time, and Socket
- a built in version of the Circle
which will measure the consumption of fitted lighting circuits etc.
The next version of the Source
software (scheduled for end 2008) will allow bi-directional measuring
. This will enable renewable energy
for example) to be tracked in the same way that energy consumption is already being measured.
is currently only available with a Euro-style (two-pin) plug. At the start of 2009 a UK-style (3-pin) version will go on sale, but until then Plugwise Circles
can be used with travel adapters
!) here in the UK. The Source
software is already produced in English, and the Getting Started Guide
and full Plugwise Manual
will be available in English also at the start of 2009.
The standard Home Basic Pack
includes one Circle+
, eight Circles
, and Source
software for around €360
. This can be coupled with the Home Extension Pack
, available for around €360
which contains ten Circles
to extend your Plugwise network. A Home Start Packet
is also available for around €125
which has just one Circle+
, and Source
to get your started.
When you consider the price of a standard plug-in mains power meter
(£10-30), and the additional functionality of the Plugwise Circles
, they are great value for money at around £20 each.
For commerical buyers, flexible Plugwise
packages are available
for use within offices and large buildings under the name Pro Basic
with up to 60 Circles
per network, multiple interconnected networks possible, more advanced software, internet access of collected data in realtime, and much more.
More Plugwise Information
Click here to visit the official Plugwise Website
(in Dutch). An English language version of the website is available here
, but currently there is more information and images of the Plugwise system on the original Dutch site. There are three Plugwise videos
available to view here which are in Dutch, but give a good feel of what Plugwise can achieve.
Article Last Modified: 15:20, 8th Sep 2008
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