Monday, December 13, 2010:  Updated March 7, 2016

TED – The Energy Detective

For appliances that are hard-wired, run on 240 Volts, are impractical or too difficult to plug in to a Kill-A-Watt meter can be monitored by a whole-house monitoring system like the TED.

The TED-5000 is also a fantastic tool to measure the total phantom/stand-by power of your entire house.

Having a photo-voltaic solar system that can run your whole house is awesome. Not having a way to monitor it while you are away is not. This is where my good friend TED comes in. TED is not really my friend in the human sense but in the Energy Detective sense.

TED measures AC voltage directly and AC current via inductive coupling current clamps. These signals are fed into an MTU (Monitoring and Transmitting Unit) which digitizes them and sends them over the power line in bursts each time the A/C voltage crosses zero. At that point, (for what seems like thousands of micro-seconds to TED), there is effectively no current flowing on the line and a data is sent on a 132KHz channel from the MTU to TED.  
TED then uses its built in Internet gateway and relays this information to the Internet where I can pull up and monitor our home energy usage. TED also has an optional $80 handheld unit that receives info from TED via a Zigbee wireless signal. I opted not to get one of these displays since there are apps for both Apple and Android devices that do the same thing.  

I originally bought TED’s schizophrenic brother, TED 5002-C, which contains two MTU units.
Click below to buy your very own TED. 

One set of voltage leads and current clamps can monitor the total power coming from and going to the grid while the other set monitors just the inverter’s production. Using the provided software, I can see exactly how much power my house is consuming during any point in time (within 2 seconds).

This also provides a way to monitor actual usage (within 1 watt) of all appliances in the house, including ones that run on 240 volts and/or are hard-wired (like the dish-washer).

To the shock and surprise of my 7-year old son and 9 year old daughter, I requested they turn on every light in the house. We also turned on all four burners on the electric range, the oven, the toaster oven, the microwave oven, the waffle iron, the electric griddle and Kitchen Aid mixer. Last but not least, I turned on some work lights, the table saw, shop-vac and drill press. Ahh. TED reports back that we are currently using 22,300 watts. A quick math calculation reveals we are drawing almost 93 amps at 240 volts. Wow! That’s a lot of power. That is approaching Clark Griswold levels of power consumption.

In the movie Christmas Vacation, Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) used 25,000 Italian imported lights (assuming 7 watt bulbs). That works out to be 175,000 watts.

Here is an EKG of my electric Oven. What you are seeing here is the preheat cycle followed by the oven coming up to temperature (flat line) and then re-heating caused by a batch of cold cookie sheets with dough being placed in the oven. Awesome!

You might think that my wife is not too fond of me knowing exactly when lights get left on and when she is baking bread or otherwise using copious amounts of electricity. Actually, she's really cool with it, because I'm not a dork/power-war-lord. That would be a violation of rule#1. Save energy without sacrificing convenience and luxury. Being under tyrannical rule is not convenient or luxurious, so don't do it and stand for it. 

Update 1/19/2013:  
TED communication can be knocked out by electronics with noisy power supplies.  Upon buying some cheap LED lights, I experienced this problem.  Thanks to TED's excellent customer service and an X-10 filter I was able to eventually solve the problem.  

I have enjoyed having a TED so much, I have since purchased 2 more MTUs.  Now I can independently monitor the energy production/consumption of 4 circuits in our home:  
  • The whole house
  • The solar panels
  • The hot-water heater
  • The heat-pump
There isn't a day that goes by where I don't pull up the TED app.  It is useful for so many things.  

Update 3/7/2016:
While TED has its quirks but I have enjoyed having one so much, I decided to expand and added another 4 channel TED to our home. According to TED customer service, this isn't possible. But if you add a power-line filter to each Gateway and MTU, (see below), it works just fine. Each TED gateway is assigned its own IP address and nobody is the wiser. 

MTUs are too beautiful to lock away inside the breaker box so I mounted them proudly on the wall. Not shown, another power-line filter inside the breaker box feeding just the top plug on the plug socket. 

                /  X10 Filter --> Gateway and MTUs
120VAC  <
               \   X10 Filter --> Gateway and MTUs

We now monitor 8 channels. 

TED 1:
  • The whole house
  • Solar panels 6.2kW array
  • Solar panels 5.3kW array
  • Heat Pump
TED 2:
  • L-2 Charger (Edith)
  • L-2 Charge (Raj)
  • Hot Water Heater
  • Clothes Dryer
Update 12/12/2016: 
I have yet to try one but the TED Spider looks like a great way to measure several devises at once. 

Buy the Home Pro here: 

and the spider here: