Sea Glass

Sea Glass

Friday, May 7, 2010

Who/what is TED?

The Energy Detective, also known as TED, is an energy demand feedback device that promotes energy conservation by making residential consumers aware of how much electrical energy is being used in their homes. Reportedly, this device can help reduce energy consumption by 10%-20%. This device provides immediate feedback on your energy usage so you can decide where and when to reduce your consumption. But of course, like all advice, you must take it in order for it to work.

Essentially, TED is no different from the utility company energy meter on the outside of your home, but it’s displayed indoors at a place where it can be more conveniently read, and displays some extra information of interest to the user. This device comes in two parts - an electromagnetic transducer that sits at the power mains to measure the total power usage and transmits it over the power wiring, and a receiver device that receives the signal and displays it to the user.
TED tracks kilowatt-hours, and optionally computes cents per hour and estimates the month's electric bill.

TED's transmitter only transmits its signal over a single phase of household wiring. Most houses have two incoming phases divided evenly throughout the house. TED's receiver usually can only receive if it's plugged into an outlet on the same phase as its transmitter. A phase bridge, such as one compatible with X10 home automation equipment, can overcome this limitation. Despite TED's ability to only transmit over a single phase, it does include the necessary equipment to properly measure power usage on both phases.

A research project by the Florida Solar Energy Center has successfully used the device to develop a protocol which can be used to inventory the electrical demand of all household appliances. This same research has installed the device in twenty households with the intention of evaluating pre/post household behavior after a year of having the device available.

The TED receiver displays power measurements with a resolution of 10 watts, and updates every 1 second. The actual measurement hardware in TED may have a higher resolution, with a granularity as low as 1 watt. All data is stored in nonvolatile memory, so there is no data loss on power outage.

One of the coolest aspects of the TED is the use of the “Footprints” software which allows you to monitor your usage on your PC. The software will cost you $50+/ -. There is a brief You Tube video which explains this:

Although ours is being installed, it is supposedly easy to install by a “qualified” homeowner, whatever that means. When I open an electrical panel, I personally prefer to have an electrician standing next to me! The cost for the TED 1001 is about $150.

Jeff Good
Benchmark General Contractors, Inc.

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