Saturday 27 October 2012

My home energy disaggregation system

This post describes my home energy disaggregation system, using tools from AlertMe and PlotWatt. I've cross-posted it from its own page on my website, and although this post probably won't stay up to date, the page on my website should. If you're interested in setting up a similar system, feel free to leave a comment!

In order to monitor the electricity consumption of my home, I use an AlertMe SmartEnergy kit.  This consists of a battery powered SmartMeter reader and a mains powered SmartHub. The SmartMeter reader is a current clamp, which clips onto the electricity input to my home within my circuit breaker box. This clamp calculates the flow of electricity through the wire by measuring the magnetic field surrounding it, and therefore doesn't need to physically break the circuit. The current clamp sends second-by-second readings of my home's power demand to the SmartHub via a ZigBee wireless network. The hub is attached to my router via an Ethernet cable, which allows it to upload my electricity data to AlertMe's cloud storage.

My AlertMe SmartMeter reader.

My PhD has built up my interest in non-intrusive appliance monitoring; software which calculates appliance-level energy feedback using only home-level energy data. Although AlertMe don't offer such a service, this is where PlotWatt, a cloud-based software company, comes in. To make use of PlotWatt's appliance-level analysis, I needed to transfer my data from AlertMe's data cloud to PlotWatt's data cloud. To do so, I set up my Raspberry Pi to periodically download my data from AlertMe and upload it to PlotWatt. I've since open-sourced the project to allow anyone to use or modify my code. This software and PlotWatt's algorithms have allowed me to find out how much money I spend keeping each appliance running using PlotWatt's online dashboard.

My Raspberry Pi.

A breakdown of my household's monthly energy costs is available at However, even enthusiasts like myself don't check this daily. Therefore, I wanted an energy display from which I could pick up this information as I walked past. To create such a display, I set up an old monitor attached to my Raspberry Pi, which displays the dashboard from

My home energy monitoring system.


  1. Dear Oliver your system seems to be amazing. My name is Pietro Ducange and i am a researcher at the university of Pisa. Since the last year, i have beenn also interested in NILM systems. I would be nice to stay in contact and even collaborate.
    Regarding the plottwatt system, is it really able to disaggragate the total consuption and identify each one of your appliances? In this case, we could stop our research activity...
    Check my website to get my contact info:

  2. Hi Pietro,

    Thanks for your comment, it's great to hear from other people working in this field.

    With regard to the PlotWatt system, it does do a good job of disaggregating my appliances. However, I don't believe any disaggregation algorithms are perfect, and there are still plenty of areas to which both academia and industry can contribute.


  3. Hi Oliver,

    Thanks for sharing such an amazing idea. You know this will help many of the people who are engaged in business sector. They can maintain their electricity budget. As I am a Distance learning student and I am doing a business course so your idea will help me in this. And I would like to know that does this monitor consumption of a single commodity or multiple.




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