How to control electricity consumption
Currently most electric companies offer information about electricity consumption that your clients accumulate each month. According to each one, you can go even further and see both the daily consumption and the consumption in real time. Still, the information they offer is general. That is, it is what is being consumed without making any distinction if it is the consumption of large appliances, lights, etc.
In order to carry out a more exhaustive control of said consumption, there are different options. On the one hand, there are the commercial ones, which are nothing more than devices already ready to come home and connect following the instructions offered by the manufacturer. And on the other hand, there is the possibility of creating an electrical consumption measurement system on your own.
The advantage of creating your own system is that you will be able to make it as personal as you want and need. It is true that it may not be valid for everyone, but with a little patience and following the instructions that can be easily found thanks to the previous work of other users it is possible to carry out a project of this type.
Creating an electric meter with Raspberry Pi
What do you need to create an electric meter with a Raspberry Pi? Well, of course, the first thing is one of these development boards. Here has to be the Raspberry Pi 3 or Raspberry Pi 4 preferably. The rest of the Raspberry Pi models are not the most recommended for the use of a HAT, although it is already up to each one.
Along with Raspberry itself, we should also add that set of non-invasive sensors that will help you measure the current that will pass through each of the wires that go to the electrical panel of your house. Depending on the number of phases you have installed, you will need more or less. Also if you want to have a more exhaustive control or you only need to measure the one carried out by those with the highest consumption, such as the one that gives current to appliances or lights.
These sensors are connected to a small board that in turn will be connected to the Raspberry Pi through the G-PIO connector and you can find different brands and with different connections as well. So, for example, you can have a small plate for only three of them or up to seven. As we said before, everything will depend on the control you want to have.
For example, each of these non-invasive sensors can be purchased for a price around 13 euros. Meanwhile, the HAT that goes with the Raspberry Pi and allows you to connect them would cost about 50 euros more or less.
Now that you have the necessary hardware, the installation is not complex at all. It basically consists of connect the HAT to the Raspberry Pi, then the sensors and these in turn to the phases of the home electrical panel. Being non-invasive, it is something that anyone can do without fear.
Measuring and visualizing data
With all the hardware in place, the setup process will be the most tedious for many. The good thing is that you will find very varied guides, so it is only a matter of seeing which one you like the most because of how they do data visualization especially.
One option is generate a database which will export these to Grafana, a service that allows you to view data as you practically prefer to do it. Thus, just by accessing the web you will be able to see how your consumption is going at each moment, the history, comparisons with other days, those that have consumed the most and the least, etc.
In Bujarra this process is well explained, although there will be a part that you always have to investigate yourself to adapt everything to your real needs. Of course, if you don’t want to get involved a lot and you just need to measure the cost of a particular appliance or a series of devices connected to the same outlet, there are options such as power strips with a consumption meter or sockets with an electric meter. So you decide.