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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Current Cost CC128


My latest gadget, which I have had for a few months is the Current Cost CC128. This device displays how much electricity we use , in real time. It also gathers historical data which I can download to a computer for analysis. There are quite a number of these type of devices from Owl, Wattson and others and they all work in broadly the same manner.


The device has a display unit , as seen in the picture. It communicates with a sensor which you install alongside your electricity meter via a wireless connection.

The sensor unit has a clamp which loosely attaches around the cable leaving your electricity meter. That's it ! Takes about 2 minutes to install and does not require an electrician. Nor does it interfere with your electrical supply or wiring in any way. Completely non invasive.
I had previously had an Owl device which worked very well, but did not record historical data. I passed this unit on to my mother-in-law who is using it in France, where it also works well. I chose the CC128 for a number of reasons :

  • It keeps historical data
  • There are a number of open source projects to provide integration between the unit and a PC/Mac for charting and analysis. Dale Lane has written a very nice application to allow you to download the data via a USB cable to your PC. Dale is incredibly knowledgeable on this subject , extremely helpful and his application is free, so I salute him.
  • CurrentCost hope to bring out additional sensors in the future, possibly including gas, oil and water consumption too. These would have to use a different approach. The electrical sensor uses induction to measure consumption. With gas the sensor would have to be an optical sensor which 'counted' the rotations of the smallest units on the meter.


I'm trying to reduce my energy consumption, which I consider to be far too high - approximately 21 units per day, and I'd like to reduce it . The CC128 helps me in a number of ways. I have the display setup on the window ledge by my kitchen sink. I can see at a glance what the consumption is . It's sensitive enough for me to be able to tell if unnecessary devices are on, for example lights left on upstairs. I can see the data presented in various forms, including KwH, KG CO2 or Cost in £/€/$. It also gives me a handy graph of the previous 24 hour period, in terms of Night, Day and Evening use.

Now of course I could gather some understanding simply by recording data from my own meter every day. This would go a long way to understanding how much I use. However it's a lot easier with a device like this. Daily data does not provide any insight into which devices use the most electricity. I expected electric ovens , kettles, and dishwashers to use a lot, but fridges , pumps and motors also consume a fair amount. I can see that an old fridge I have for storing drinks in creates a huge spike every time the compressor kicks in. I can see that my washing machine uses 80% of it's power in the first 10 minutes of operation .

Dales application can analyse the data from the device and provide some insights , for example trending (am I improving) , which days of the week do I use the most (Sunday dinner and Monday wash day are the worst offenders) and when during the day am I consuming the most. This is important as I have Economy 7 cheap rate electricity from 23:30- 06:30 GMT which is 00:30 - 07:30 BST. My spreadsheet calculations are that, with my Scottish Power tariff I need to consume 9% during the E7 period for it to be worthwhile. If you have E7, your tariff may vary, I have seen some where the break even point is as high as 38% !

I am also using imeasure , a a wonderful web site run by Oxford University , for recording your weekly GAS and Electricity readings to see how well (or not) you are doing against similar types of property. It even gives you an A-F energy rating, just like the ones you see on White Goods. Currently I'm an E , which I'm not happy with, but all this analysis is helping me improve that. More to follow on this subject

1 comment:

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