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I first heard about the Open Source Energy Monitor from Alexander Bischoff at Open4Energy. We've covered all sorts of home energy monitors, and through our coverage and our own experience we’ve been able to get a good feel for what works… and what doesn't. It is my personal belief that home energy monitoring systems need to incorporating monitoring, data storage, and control (or at least an output to encourage a person to control). It seems that the Open Energy Monitor has all of this and more.

From the Open Energy Monitor About Us Page:

This is a project to develop and build open source energy monitoring, control and analysis tools for energy efficiency and distributed renewable generation. These technologies are at the heart of sustainable energy systems, monitoring and controlling how energy flows between the various parts of the system. These tasks can be achieved using a low cost, modular, open source micro-controller system known as an Arduino, powerful and flexible enough to form the basis of a wide range of systems. PV installation monitors, solar hot water controllers, household energy monitors etc, can be assembled from a selection of modules linked together with an Arduino and configured using simple to use software libraries.

With the Open Energy Monitor, homeowners can monitor all sorts of energy inputs, analyze the data, and force outputs as a result of the data. The only downside: it requires active homeowner engagement, something the home energy monitoring field seems to lack (at least if the experience of Google Powermeter and Microsoft Hohm tells us anything). A schematic of what is possible can be seen below:

At the heart of the Open Energy Monitor is Arduino, “a tool for making computers that can sense and control more of the physical world than your desktop computer. It’s an open-source physical computing platform based on a simple micro-controller board, and a development environment for writing software for the board.” I actually received a coupon from RadioShack for some Arduino boards about a week ago, before I had even heard of the Open Energy Monitor.

The founders of Open Energy Monitor, who are based in the UK, are also providing a kit to help those interested get started with open source energy monitoring called Megni.

I’m not sure if I have the time to spend on a project like this (I do have to research other emerging home energy topics you know), but I know there are many out there with home automation and energy monitoring as their hobby, and this sounds like a great fit. I’ll be interested to see what smart home communication protocols are being used with the Arduino controlled energy monitors. I’m guessing Zigbee wireless will be the most popular, as it is also an open source protocol. Arduino already has a page on communicating over Zigbee.

I can’t wait to see systems that are developed to help homeowners live more sustainably, please share yours with us ([email protected])!

Open4Energy - Get Smart about Energy™