Update on the Twittering power usage project

Energy & Sustainability Technology
Update on the Twittering power usage project

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A lot of folks emailed me about our “Not New Year’s resolutions – What are you going to MAKE? What we are making…” How many startups and projects are going to be doing power usage and metering in 2009? TONS – and now many of them seem to be looking at Twitter to pass the information along too.

Here’s the latest, we’re using a supercap, the Xbee is still parasitic (getting its power from the Kill-a-Watt). This is the one time that a supercap is actually reasonable for use in a project, a rare & very short burst of activity followed by long sleep delays. A supercap is like something between capacitors and batteries.

Oh, here’s the outline of the project…

Twittering power usage device

Limor Fried and I are working on a cool project that should be done in early 2009, you take an off the shelf power usage device like the Kill-a-Watt and add an Xbee wireless module – once tapped in to the Kill-a-Watt you transmit the power usage to a local computer and that computer publishes how many watts per day you’re using to your twitter account and will also add something like #mywatts so everyone can compare what they use. You could also use an Arduino with ethernet or wireless and eliminate the computer completely. The project will be open source of course and we expect someone will see it and do a commercial product.

12 thoughts on “Update on the Twittering power usage project

  1. suidae says:

    This is a great project, looking forward to watching it and building it.

    I’m working on something similar, only for the whole house.

  2. jcharlesmith.myopenid.com says:

    This will only monitor one device using the kill-a-watt. How about integrating the Black and Decker power monitor into the project to montior whole house usage.


  3. Phillip Torrone says:

    that’s pretty cool — the hope is others look at our project and add more devices and ways to do this.

  4. gaz.myopenid.com says:

    Hmmm my other comment seems to have been swallowed up somewhere :(

    In a nutshell: Check out the Current Cost power monitor, especially it’s use in conjunction with Pachube.

  5. Adrian McEwen says:

    That’s very similar to something I’ve been building, only rather than twittering, my initial prototype uploads data to Pachube. And rather than hack a kill-a-watt I’ve built my own circuit which interfaces to an Arduino with an XBee shield.

    You can find out more about it (and see the live usage data) at http://www.mcqn.com/weblog/mazzini_monitors_its_first_appliance

  6. EEan says:

    Hmmm, off-the-shelf power metering chips? Check. Off-the-shelf wireless chips? Check. Seems like a no-brainer to me. Perhaps someone’s been working on a commercial project for sometime, but engineering a robust device for production is a little different than throwing something on a bread board and calling it done.

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