Home Energy monitoring

I hope this is the right spot for a question I have on home energy monitoring systems.
There is a Choice article called “Home energy power monitor buying guide” which was written by Peter Zaluzny (last updated: 27 February 2017). Unfortunately, the article only indicates that these devices are available, there is no information on the devices that will help in buying one.
So, I am wondering whether there is anyone who has a home energy monitoring system and what their experience is. The type of system I am referring to will monitor the power consumption for the house with the information display varying in sophistication ranging from a simple wall mounted display of ‘power’ (kW) and ‘energy’ (kWh) to a web based system with computer displays of instantaneous reading and history for all the various electrical parameters and can monitor single or multi-phase plus the option of solar power. This means that it is theoretically possible to see what is happening with the power in the house, particularly for me how much solar is being generated compared to what power is being consumed with an indication whether there is a net import or export of power.

Why I am interested in this is because I have solar PV cells on my house. I am able to monitor the Solar power being generated, with indications of energy generated, instant power plus an historical report on various electrical parameters. However, it is only giving information about the Solar PV cell system. To give me a better idea of the total picture, I have imported data from my energy provider and added data I have manually extracted from the Solar panel web site and created a spreadsheet and graph. This shows that I am consuming only a small proportion solar generated power in my house and the main proportion is being exported (about three times). This is really not the right economics way to do it because of the ridiculously low rate that is paid for exported solar power. It is far better using inside the house and not buying the power.
I try to maximise the amount of solar generated power I use by not turning on too many appliances at the same time, e.g. I will boil the kettle, then only put on the toaster when the kettle finishes. While this works to a degree it is purely guesswork. This is where I hope a home energy monitoring system will help.

So, after that long intro - if anyone has one of these systems could they let me know how well they have worked. The type of information I am interested in is:

  • Is the home monitoring a stand alone display and what information does it show?
  • Is it a web based computer monitoring system and again what information does it show?
  • Is it a single or multi-phase system and is there solar monitoring?
  • How useful is the system to you, i.e. does it help you actually monitor your power and has it helped reduce your power consumption?
  • What is your electrical knowledge like, i.e. are you a complete novice or do you have electrical knowledge and what level?

I am aware that the programs that come with battery systems do have much of this capability, but I am not in a position to install one.

Thank you in advance for your help

PS If Choice would like a volunteer to test these systems I am ready and willing.


Thanks for the feedback @allandorrington, I’ll be sure to pass it on. Tagging @Energy-Campaigner in case anyone has any input they can share

Some years back I purchased a Wattson energy monitor for about $180.
First surprise was the instructions saying it must be installed by a qualified electrician, instantly adding another $180 to the cost.
Then the electrician told me that the way my place was wired he could only connect it to the house circuit or the off-peak circuit but not both.
I suspect that installation for solar would be higher still as there would need to be at least two induction devices installed.
I opted for the house circuit as I had already monitored my spinning disc meter for some time to get a handle on my hot water costs.
In day to day usage it has proved a mixed blessing.
It doesn’t read some loads accurately such as LED lights. My 8 watt LED ‘fluoro’ light registers as 120 watts in use while my microwave uses 70W in standbye mode. Sometimes it can also display a lower power consumption after I switch something on.
It also doesn’t read low power consumptions reliably at all. Sometimes saying my total house consumption is 0 watts when I had a PVR in standby mode, a three station wireless phone and 2 mains electric clocks running. I have learned that anything lower than about 15 watts confuses it so the reading varies between 0 watts and some higher value.
It’s greatest value once I learned all its quirks is as a reminder if I have left something on when I am about to go away.
Subsequently the UK company that supplied them (DIY Kyoto) went bankrupt.


My 2c. I’m not sure if it could be expanded to handle solar power data separately (I’d personally likely do DIY ESP/Arduino stuff to capture that), however at home we have a Saturn South “smart meter” installed (got it free as a qualifying house by Our Green Home).
It’s installed hardwired into our meter box, with a matching unit plugged into our router.

Personally I really like it, however I’m a techie who loves tinkering with such things. It doesn’t have any local dashboard device, however is has a reasonably good online dashboard (I think that bit is provided by Our Green Home, not Saturn South), and if I feel brave I can change the router unit to pass info directly to a server/service of my choosing (NOT a simple matter though).

The online dashboard let’s me see realtime (well, polled/updated every second or so) power usage and graph power/cost/CO2 usage by hour/day/month.


I use an EnviR (http://www.currentcost.com/product-envir.html) which I won in a competition several years ago, it has a clamp which is on the wires going to the meter and measures our domestic usage. I have a Xantrex inverter for our solar and use SGView to collect the data for that, I then use PVOutput on a computer to upload the data to PVOutput.org every 5 minutes.

Hi Dave
It is quite possible that the monitor you had was faulty, but there is also a chance that the installation was not done correctly. From the way you use technical terms I can tell you are not familiar with electricity or its terminology. I am retired after working in the electrical field for over 46 years starting as an an apprentice electrician and working in just about every field you can think of as a designer and getting a degree on the way, so I do have a bit of background there!

The need to have an electrician install the equipment is because the authorities do not want people who do not know what they are doing poking around in the back of a meter box. Even more dangerous are people who think they know what they are doing! Technically, opening the meter box hinged panel should not be dangerous, but there is a slight chance of something not being safe. So, I am NOT recommending that anyone should do their own investigations.

There are two parameters that an ‘energy monitor’ needs to read to get a power reading. The first is ‘current’ in “amps” (A). This is done by a “current transformer” (CT), which a coil (ring) that goes around the wire of the circuit to be monitored. It may be a spring clamp or it may be a solid ring and need the circuit to be disconnected then physically run through the ring. The second parameter is “volts” (V). The main unit will be pugged into a power point and it will use the voltage from that to measure the voltage. Power is the product of current and volts (VxA) and is measured in “Watts” (‘W’, sometimes also written ‘VA’ - which is slightly different).
If you are getting ‘funny’ readings the CT clamp may not be attached to the wire correctly. If it is a spring clamp it must be fully closed any gap will create problems. Also, if the CT clamp is too close to another wire may pick up reading from that circuit, equally so whether it is an ‘active’ (red) or a ‘neutral’ (black) wire. One other possibility is that the clamp was put on a circuit wire rather than the mains wire.
The other potential source of the problem is the voltage. This is a bit more complicated, but it could be a bad connection in the power point or the main unit is near the end of a heavily loaded circuit resulting in a big voltage drop (i.e. the volts are much less than where the CT is). Another would be having the monitor on a different phase to the CT, but this only applies to multi-phase supplies, which I suspect you do not have.

I hope this is of some help, sorry if I am being to ‘over the top’ with my explanation but electricity is a passion for me.


(In Vic) I’m using a Pipit 500 from http://www.smartuser.com.au/product/pipit-500-energy-monitor/
It receives signal from my smart meter and shows consumption and solar generation in $ per hour and the daily comsumption. It can be programmed for variable tariffs.
No electrical installation was needed, it was set up via Powercor, our local wires and poles supplier’s, website.

Following on from the previous response, powercor in Vic has free energy use monitoring from their website for all their customers who have smart meters which in Vic is just about everyone. You just need to log in.

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A number of people have posted advice about using the recordings from smart meters on the electricity retailer - thanks for the advice, but I already do this. The problem with the information provided by the retailer is that the information is not immediate. What I would like to see is my power consumption real time. I can see my and solar generation form its site but I would like to know how much power is actually being exported and how much is being consumed in the house.

What I am looking for is a monitor that shows: power in, power generated, power exported and net power shown on a simple monitor. Plus a more complex recording system with graphs and charts.

I think smart meters from Fronius and others allow you to do all this via a web page that you can log in to. There are other add-on devices around that just use current transducers and can give you the same info on a web page in real time too. I know my employer was selling their stock of them off cheaply a couple of years ago. I can’t think of the brand off hand, but they worked quite well.
They’re not quite the same as a kitchen benchtop display though.

We recently installed PV panels with backup Enphase battery which comes with a monitoring app. The app is useful but does not give enough detailed info at the appliance level. In WA the State government power provider Synergy is now conducting a 12 month trial on those with panels and battery backup which I have just signed up for. Synergy pays for the monitoring equipment and installation which we get to keep for free, and I understand that this will allow us to program certain appliances to run when there is an excess, such as the electric booster for the solar hot water system in winter, or (if we had these) the pool pump or electric car. I will let you know how this goes.

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Hi Allan, This might be a little late to the party, but have you looked at Solar Analytics yet? I work there and the monitoring is active (you get fault diagnosis, alerts and notifications identified by algorithm and checked by PV engineers), and you also have access to your dashboard which gives you real-time (5 min) solar production and household energy usage. The basic model has 3 current transformers, one for production, one for consumption (whole of house), and one spare CT that you can allocate to a particular circuit to see it in more detail (such as air con or pool pump). The 6CT model has 6 CTs (so 4 spare that you can use on individual circuits). There’s also performance data, savings data, battery calculator based on your actual usage. You can get a quick tour on the website: https://www.solaranalytics.com/au/how-it-works. Solar Analytics is offered by a network of solar resellers and installers, either with a new installation or retrofit. Hope that helps, Steph

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