MeterPlug enlists smartphones to help monitor energy use
MeterPlug is a new home energy monitoring device that brings a mix of simplicity and sophistication to the equation when it comes to keeping track of how much energy various home appliances use. Placed between the appliance and the AC outlet, the MeterPlug sends precise information on energy usage to iOS and Android devices via Bluetooth 4.0 and incorporates a range of power saving features to help curb excessive consumption.
MeterPlug can be used to gauge how much energy a single appliance is using or connected through a power strip to monitor multiple appliances. It is also capable of calculating electricity costs for different times of the day and if you are running several MeterPlug's on different devices, the app can be used to connect to them simultaneously.
The device has a wireless range of about 100 feet (30 m) and transmits real-time information on energy costs in your local currency as well as a historical breakdown – last day, last week etc. Its built-in memory also allows it to measure and record information for a later download when the user is not home.
The information on electricity costs is drawn from a database that covers the U.S., the EU and several other regions. If a country is not covered, users can add the local cost per kWh manually.
The team has developed full working pre-production units for North American, European and British plug layouts which work from 100V to 240V AC 50/60Hz.
It's not all about watching your money drain away though. Features designed to help actually save dollars and curb greenhouse emissions in the process include a "turn off" function, which enables the user to switch off an appliance that is using "vampire power" while on standby via their mobile device.
There’s also an alert or auto-off system when a specific device’s electricity cost goes over a preselected amount as well as a physical on/off button for situations when no Bluetooth 4.0-enabled device is available and the appliance needs to be turned back on. Perhaps the cleverest function is "Proximity Control," which enables you to turn appliances off when you walk away and turn back on when you are back in the vicinity.
How much do you save? The company cites the example of a Playstation 3, where wasted energy can add up to 170 watts of power if left on standby 24/7. This translates to around $220 per year (depending on your electricity provider costs of course).
At the time of writing, MeterPlug has already exceeded its crowd-funding target on Indiegogo, so production should be just around the corner.
MeterPlug will retail for US$59.95. You can watch the company's video pitch below.
Source:MeterPlug on Indiegogo
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In the campaign page they state 0.1W usage.
Personally I do not like concept of each plug communicating over wireless.
There are several reasons for this (spectrum contamination, range limitation and so on).
I would prefer power line communication to the connection device that could be then connected to the wired or wireless network and accessed by the mobile device or third party device.
The first thing I did after agreeing "this is something I could really use" then gulping at the price is to look for an API. I found what I was looking for on the "Updates" tab, which announces an April 2013 release of the MeterPlug API for:
* iOS * Android * Mac OSX * Windows 8
Dear MeterPlug: If you want to please early adopters (the kind of person who is going to be interested in your API), Linux support should be at the top of your list, not conspicuously absent from it.
Also, there will be a desire to have multiple options available for broadcasting the signals (powerline, WiFi, Bluetooth, RFID, Cat-6, Fiber Optic, Infrared, etc...)