Created: February 10th, 2015
Everyone uses electricity in their home, often even during the day when they are out. During what are termed “peak hours”, or hours when most homes are using the most electricity, the power utility companies charge a premium to users to discourage them from consuming more than their share of the load.
What if there was a way to actively monitor your home’s electricity usage in real-time, while also keeping an eye on whether or not your region is experiencing peak loading? With our product, we imagine an ambient display that shows both personal usage and regional usage, nudging users to modify their electrical consumption based on the comparison they observe. This will both save the users money on their electrical bill and keep them aware of their impact on the environment, encouraging less energy consumption overall.
In order to create an analog dial gauge display, as well as enable the hanging weight display, we used two servos, each with a spindle to hang and adjust the height of the weight, and a needle to display on the gauges. The lower gauge displays the live electricity usage in the users home. To represent this, we used a Wemo smart outlet to communicate when a light was on and off, and reflected that in the gauge. The upper gauge shows the real time grid demand for the user’s utility provider. Ideally, this would be pulling data from a website such as this http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/, which displays the demand on the UK electric grid. For demonstration purposes, we included a function in our code so that the gauge would adjust based on time of day.
- Spark Microcontroller
- Two Servo Motors
- Foam Core, Spray paint, Tape, Glue
Label Part Type Properties
J1 Basic Servo
J2 Basic Servo
Part1 Spark Core (v1.0) variant variant 1; manufacturer Spark Devices; revision v1.0; name Spark Core
We used foam core to create the housing for the Electrocloud, as well as the inner mechanism.
We used spray paint and colored paper for accents.
The only real challenge we encountered was ensuring that all of our devices were hooked up to reliable WIFI. Since the Wemo doesn't work well on CMU WIFI, we had to use the Wemo off campus.
We are very happy with how the Electrocloud turned out. The prototype looks good, and the it functions well as a proof of concept. We only wish that we were able to pull real data about grid demand to control the upper dial, as well as update the lower dial based on the actual overall usage in a house, rather than just one outlet.