Brultech Home Energy Monitoring System

It took me a while to decide on which Home Energy monitoring system to use. I finally chose the Brultech system due to what I think are positives.

The ECM-1240 can monitor 7 channels using Current Transformers (CTs). Out of the box it is ready to measure US 240/120 split phase power. Ch1 is specifically setup to to read the 2 wires providing 240VAC to the main breaker in the Service Entrance (SES). The package I purchased include 2 - 200 amp split CTs and several Micro-40 "donut" CTs. The split CTs open up and get closed around a wire. So the wire does not have to be removed. Most of the CTs are the "donut" style and are much less expensive, but the wire must be removed to slide the CT on the wire.

If you are comfortable working IN the SES, setting up the ECM-1240 is fairly straight forward.

One note about ordering. Brultech is located in and ships from Canada. The Basic shipping charge is about $25. I added several more CTs and the shipping was $28. After installing I wanted more 40 amp Mirco CTs, they are $4.99 each. That's when I discovered the basic $25 shipping fee. My suggestion is to buy one Micro-40 CT for every 120VAC breaker and two for each 240VAC breaker.

You can use several CTs on any channel of the ECM-1240. The ECM will add up the power and report it as one number. You can run a few wires through a Micro-40 CT. It is larger than it appears. This is what I did since I didn't get enough CTs to have one for each breaker. The end result is the same.

Setting up the ECM for the first time requires a Microsoft Windows computer, Win7 or WinXP. I actually set it up the first time on the kitchen table. After I verified it was working I installed it in the garage on the opposite side of the wall from the SES. The CT wires are about 5ft long. The CTs are installed in the SES, the low voltage ECM has to be mounted outside the SES. The ECM measures voltage and it calculates real power.

Once I was sure the ECM worked, I installed the CTs in the SES. I drilled a 1/2" hole for the CT wires to exit through the back SES into the garage. The 1/2" hole was just large enough, the reinstall will get a 3/4" hole. I put wire tags on every CT wire, that's two tags per CT. Then fed the wires through the back of SES and pulled about 1' of wire into the garage, leaving the rest hanging out of the SES. That gave me enough slack for feeding the breaker wires through the CTs. I carefully pulled the CT wires from inside the garage and removed all the slack from the SES side.

I numbered the CTs and the breakers and recorded which CTs were on the respective breakers along with the wire tag numbers and ECM wire terminal numbers (my schematic). That gave me a written reference for how I wanted it wired. Then I attached the CTs to the ECM channels. You can put several CTs on one channel as long as they are the same size. I had Micro-40s, Micro-60s, Micro-80s and Split 200s. Since most of the breakers are 120VAC, 25 amp and under, one Micro-40 CT can measure that branch. In my case I combined 2 or 3 wires FROM THE SAME PHASE in one CT so I could measure everything. Brultech is coming out (Dec2011?) with a new product, GreenEye monitor, for people like me who want to measure everything separately, it has 32 channels and costs a bit more than the ECM-1240.

Getting the data out of the unit is the next challenge. The ECM is only a monitor. It needs to be hooked up to a computer for the data to be logged somehow. The ECM itself has a serial connection. I purchased a serial to usb connector and used that for data logging. Other options include: serial to ethernet or an ECM-1240 with Zigbee wireless. After getting the data logging working with the home computer, I purchased a Pogoplug computer for the data logging. It is a 4 watt computer versus the 400 watt home computer. The data logging computer has to be running 24/7 along with the ECM.

If you want to get a good idea of where you power consumption is the ECM-1240 is good enough, If you want every breaker/branch separately recorded you should wait for the GreenEye monitor or you need several ECM-1240s.

The system was up and running for 3 weeks before removal. The ECM and CTs had to be removed due to the SES being upgraded during my PV system installation. I'm going to reinstall the monitoring system after the PV system is commissioned (2 weeks?). I'll take pictures during the reinstall and post them.

Comments

  • dreesdrees Solar Expert Posts: 481 ✭✭✭
    Re: Brultech Home Energy Monitoring System

    Thanks for the info! Some pics of your install would also go a long ways - how satisfied are you with the system now that you've had it a while?

    I've been trying to decide on this or a TED for a while now...
  • RK_Solar_HopefulRK_Solar_Hopeful Solar Expert Posts: 69 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Brultech Home Energy Monitoring System
    drees wrote: »
    Thanks for the info! Some pics of your install would also go a long ways - how satisfied are you with the system now that you've had it a while?

    I've been trying to decide on this or a TED for a while now...

    I looked at TED, Brultech and a DIY system. The Brultech won because of more channels. The DIY idea is appealing but time consuming. Brultech is similar to DIY but there is a system purchase that DIY does not have. I really like the energy monitoring system and being able to see power consumption in realtime. But any energy monitoring system should be able to provide that.
  • mike95490mike95490 Solar Expert Posts: 8,234 ✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Brultech Home Energy Monitoring System

    Anyone know why the Service Entrance is called an SES instead of an SE ?? I follow everything else.
    Powerfab top of pole PV mount | Listeroid 6/1 w/st5 gen head | XW6048 inverter/chgr | Iota 48V/15A charger | Morningstar 60A MPPT | 48V, 800A NiFe Battery (in series)| 15, Evergreen 205w "12V" PV array on pole | Midnight ePanel | Grundfos 10 SO5-9 with 3 wire Franklin Electric motor (1/2hp 240V 1ph ) on a timer for 3 hr noontime run - Runs off PV ||
    || Midnight Classic 200 | 10, Evergreen 200w in a 160VOC array ||
    || VEC1093 12V Charger | Maha C401 aa/aaa Charger | SureSine | Sunsaver MPPT 15A

    solar: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Solar
    gen: http://tinyurl.com/LMR-Lister ,

  • TheBackRoadsTheBackRoads Solar Expert Posts: 274 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    Re: Brultech Home Energy Monitoring System

    How are you using the pogoplug? Ive been using one for a few years now (in its traditional flavor) and love it (for data backups).
  • RK_Solar_HopefulRK_Solar_Hopeful Solar Expert Posts: 69 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Brultech Home Energy Monitoring System
    mike90045 wrote: »
    Anyone know why the Service Entrance is called an SES instead of an SE ?? I follow everything else.

    I'll ask the PV guy & SRP when they come out to commission the PV system.
  • RK_Solar_HopefulRK_Solar_Hopeful Solar Expert Posts: 69 ✭✭✭✭
    Re: Brultech Home Energy Monitoring System
    How are you using the pogoplug? Ive been using one for a few years now (in its traditional flavor) and love it (for data backups).

    I found the Pogoplug when I started looking for a low cost computer to use as a data logger. I chose the Pogoplug Pro because I was going to put it in the garage next to the ECM and the builtin wireless seemed like an easy solution networking solution to give the desktop computer access to the recorded data.

    The Pogoplug original design did not allow running other programs so I followed one of the procedures (on the 'net) to make it run archlinux. Which killed the wireless... So I took advantage of the Cat5 wire that the electrician had run for the phones. That gave me the wires I needed to run the serial connection from the ECM in the garage to the Pogoplug in the office (where it is plugged in to the router). The other computers can access the data on Pogoplug via the LAN and display it.

    I find the Pogoplug Pro to be an incredible little workhorse. Using it for other than on line backup was challenging to learn.
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