PowerMonitor

An open source device designed to continuously monitor the power quality and energy delivered to a load or power circuit.

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Features

Energy Monitoring
With PowerMonitor the energy delivered to a load can be tracked over time, enabling users to understand how and when is this energy used. Parameters such as power (active, reactive and apparent), power factor, energy (active, reactive and apparent) and instantaneous current and voltage, RMS current and voltage, provide deep insights into the type and time distribution of energy consumed, efficiency of the load and any abnormalities that could indicate a fault is or is about to happen.


Power Quality Monitoring
PowerMonitor constantly analyzes the current and voltage waveforms and computes the harmonic distortions of all the harmonics up to the 40th order. This information is instantly and continuously accessible, such that users can monitor for excess distortions of the voltage and take appropriate action to mitigate the detrimental effects, or monitor for excess distortions of the current used by a load and evaluate if it is still healthy or even if its efficiency is dropping due to age for example.


Safety
While PowerMonitor is not intended to replace protection devices, it is able to supplement them and provide users with the complete picture of what happened before and after a safety event was triggered. Users can also set up alert triggers on both simple parameter thresholds (such as brown out detection, over current detection, etc.) and on advanced parameters such as harmonic distortion levels, anomalous current and voltage waveforms, etc.


The device itself is designed to withstand transient power events, is powered by a source that can be backed up and does not depend on the measured power circuit to operate, enabling multiple monitoring scenarios and automation.


Ease of Use
A lot of attention has been given into how PowerMonitor will be deployed and used. With a small footprint of only 2 modules for it’s primary form, and the use of shunts for small to medium nominal current variants, PowerMonitor enables easy deployment of multiple units to monitor multiple circuits/loads. With NFC configuration working without the device powered on, configuration can be performed before installation, making the process simpler.

Data Access
With 4000 readings per second, PowerMonitor provides a comprehensive set of new data in real time. The main way of accessing this data is via an RS485 link running at up to 2.8MB/s, using the Modbus protocol. Access is provided to all the parameters the device keeps track of and to the actual instantaneous current and voltage values enabling external processing of the full current/voltage waves.


Open Source Hardware
Since we are focused on highest quality and safety for PowerMonitor, the best way of enabling users to not only trust the device but to also understand how it works is by having it open source, both hardware and software. Anyone can then explore how the device is designed, how it is built and, should they consider it necessary and have the skills, how to modify it to better suit their individual needs.


FAQ

Who should be using this and why?


In a word, everybody! Power quality monitoring is usually only done when problems are apparent, because the devices that do it have a high cost and are typically not designed for permanent installation. Instead of relying on the utilities provider or bringing a specialist to periodically asses the power quality, and usually only when something went wrong, with PowerMonitor you can have this monitoring performed continuously and be alerted when things are about to go wrong, or when they do, know why.

We’ve designed the device small and affordable enough to be used in both residential and industrial / office settings, such that everyone is able to make use of it. Second to it’s power quality monitoring, PowerMonitor provides energy measurements and the data required to understand how this energy is used. This enables users to keep track of how much will the used energy cost, find any hidden energy usage and other such information.

How much does the device cost? 
The price isn’t fixed yet as the design is still in the (advanced) prototype phase, but we are aiming for a cost of less than 130 € for single phase shunt based variants. From the start of the project the goal has been to make it as affordable as possible, while still using high quality components, from reputable manufacturers.

This is an open source project, when are you releasing the design files and in what format? 
We are currently evaluating the latest version of the design for safety. As soon as we have verified that the device is safe for use and establish it’s ratings and limits, the design files will be made public. In keeping with the open source theme of the device, we are using KiCad to design the electronics, so the release format will be KiCad and an additional PDF for schematics. The firmware for the device will naturally be in the form of the full source code.

What are the specs of the device? 
Short answer is, they are not available yet. Long answer is, we are currently testing them out. Naturally we have a set of specs and we’ve designed it with them in mind, but before we give them out we want to make sure they are all met. Some of them are clear right now:
        Power: 9-24 V AC or DC
        Dimensions: 2 standard DIN rail modules for the initial release
        Nominal Phase Voltage: 240V AC
As soon as we confirm the rest of the specs we will update this page with a specifications section.


Will this device be available to purchase ready built?
Yes, as soon as we establish the design is safe and rate the current version, we will release the design files and begin manufacturing it. We will manufacture it ourselves in order to keep a close eye on the build quality, manufacturing issues and testing. All of this information will go into the next iteration and versions of the device.
Aside from the design files, we will publish articles explaining how and why we made the decisions during design, so keep an eye out for them as well :)

Do I need anything else to make use of this device? 
Depends on what you want to do with it. The device will require power, this can be delivered AC or DC, from 9V to 24V, so you have many options available. Other than power, if you only want to monitor and trigger a relay/contactor when thresholds are met, you don’t need anything else (except the thing you want to trigger). If you want to store the parameter values or create reports with them, you will need a device to pull data off of the PowerMonitor. There will be one available designed specifically for this device family, but really any programmable controller that understands the Modbus protocol and has a RS485 port will work (even a PC with a RS485 to USB adapter).
For configuring the device, you will need a phone with NFC support.

This is all great and I want monitoring for my business/office, but I don’t have the technical skills to integrate this device, do you provide integration services? 
No, we focus on designing and building the device, but we have partnered up with Sensix and they have a very cool solution that uses the PowerMonitor to monitor energy consumption, power quality, generate reports that keep you informed and allow you to take the best decisions when it comes to energy. They also offer monitoring of other parameters such as ambient conditions, so go check them out at sensix.io

About Us

We are an electronics manufacturing company based in Timișoara, Romania. For several years now we've been working with local hardware startups to bring their product ideas into the market. Our focus is electronic design, design for manufacturing and manufacturing of small to medium batches. When a product demand goes beyond our production capacity, we also handle the logistics and dealing with big manufacturers to get the devices built.

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