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[VIC] Free PowerPal Power Meter (Usually $129) (Melbourne CBD + 20km Radius)

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This deal has been on before but was stopped due to COVID-19. I’ve got one and they’re a great device.

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Comments

  • Had mine installed on Wednesday! Pretty handy to track instantaneous power usage and trends.

    • Looks pretty interesting. What's the power usage of the device itself? Might offset whatever saving from having one at all.

      • It's a battery powered device. Doesn't use any mains power.

        • Power from batteries costs more than mains

          • @spaceflight: Not if they're rechargeables?

            • @DerpFactory: Yes even from rechargable batteries.

              Recharging them is not 100% efficient so it might cost you $0.20 to charge them but only fill them with $0.18 of electricity.

              If you can power something directly form mains power you will save money.

              • @spaceflight: That'd still be one hell of a battery, $0.18 is more than I pay for 1000 watts of electricity.

              • +3 votes

                @spaceflight:

                If you can power something directly form mains power you will save money.

                Not at this power level. The device is using less than a milliwatt.

                The lowest-power mains supplies consume about 350mW just on their own, mostly from the safety resistors which are required to quickly discharge the input capacitors to a safe voltage when unplugged.

                So the mains power supply would have less than 1% efficiency.

                I'm an electronics engineer, and I have designed many power supplies.

      • device runs off an internal battery, rated for 10 years.

    • As they say, if it's free then you are the product

      • +7 votes

        True that. I've no doubt they have some nice uses for a trove of data about energy users across Victoria and their power plans (since the technician has to enter your plan as part of the enabling process). However, it's technically not free - it's just paid for by the state government (and therefore by my and your taxes).

        The product itself is pretty simple - it just tracks the blinks on the meter to gather usage stats.
        +ves:
        Nice looking app
        Simple & easy to use
        -ves:
        BTLE only and a closed system, no zigbee or other iot integration option
        Can only be used on a single device
        Can't track solar gain (solar input simply slows down the flash-rate of the LED)
        Can't track solar feed-in (overs on solar just mean the LED stops flashing)

      • It's not free.
        The Victorian government is paying for it.

  • Unfortunately we cannot install free Powerpals in apartments or units.

    • Booooo!

      Why the limitation?

      • It needs to connect to your smart meter, if you don't have one (many apartment blocks don't have seperate smart meters for each apartment) then it wont work.

      • UNAVAILABLE TO APARTMENTS
        Unfortunately we cannot install free Powerpals in apartments or units.

        The electricity meter box is often inaccessible and Powerpal's bluetooth signal may not work reliably through multiple concrete floors.

        You're welcome to sign up to the offer again in the future if your circumstances change!

        • One of these days someone is going to invent signal relay like wifi repeaters. (j/k)

          These people can't even be bothered to check whether your meter is close to your apartment. Some apartments are a few meters from the smart meter.

    • I paid for one and installed it in my flat. They only transmit so far (I reckon around 50m) and a lot of flats would have their power meter too far away so I think it wasn’t worth their trouble to go to each flat and find only some are close enough. If yours is close, you can always buy one and install it yourself. It is a very easy install. I use it all the time.

    • What's the difference between an apartment and a unit?

  • Does this track solar export and consumption as well?

    • +1 vote

      Nope it doesn't you need smart meter for that

      • Bugger, I have the Fronius smart meter for my system but I was chasing this for my father as the installer never come back and installed the smart meter on his setup. They are very handy.

        • +3 votes

          Same here I got Fronius too
          I had to fork out extra $300 for Fronius smart meter

          I would say go for this setup as well.
          It is give relative usage in a very detailed view much better that smart meter.

          I'm thinking of creating my own app Fronius one is crap

          • @777: Have you considered Solar Analytics? They do the same thing if not nicer and they work for all different inverters.

            Costs a little more separately but my installer bundled it with my solar so I didn't see the labour costs.

          • @777: The fronius meter wins over this one hand down. Appart from clunky app interface it integrate very well with other platforms, there was a thread on whirlpool where you can have realtime graphical display of household consumption and generation through a web browser, just need to load a cors-proxy on the browser. This powepal is pretty much useless for solar user, one particularly annoying feature is you have to be physically within the Bluetooth range to view data

          • @777: I skipped the solar "smart meter" and pull usage and solar export data in CSV format from my actual grid smart meter via my retailer - I've set up a regular export and my Raspberry Pi parses the data into a dashboard.

            • @Jonzay: I tried to pull data always gives me an error that I haven't been at that address more than a year. We have been but once we switched to 3 phase, we had a new meter.

          • @777: Home Assistant + Fronius API. It’s pretty simple.

            • @truemana: Did this two weeks ago. Only downside is seeing how little you generate on cloudy days.

            • @truemana: Been so busy haven't jumped to home assistant, pretty much Google and Alexa till date.

              Should look into it,thanks.

              • @777: Let me know if you do jump in, I can just send you the yaml code to grab the Fronius data. I finished writing this and realised it’s not that easy, just easy for me to share the code. Otherwise you’ll need to read the Fronius API document that’s detailed but very very German.

        • Your Electricity retailer should organise a meter swap (to Smart Meter) with Ausgrid. It's not the Solar Installers job.

          My Electricity Retailer (Simply Energy) arranged it for no cost, though it took several weeks).

          • @Tiger: In Victoria we all already have smart meters, the Fronius smart meter is an add-on device that allows you to track your consumption and solar generation in real time (well 30 second intervals)

      • We have a solar edge inverter - and the app it came with is great- shows consumption, self consumption and system production on a daily hour by hour graph.

    • You can sign up to the wholesale supplier portal and get your information about consumption and Solar information, we use the https://electricityoutlook.jemena.com.au/ as our wholesaler in our area is Jemena, it does not matter who your retailer is.
      I hope this makes sense.

  • Wish we had something like this in NSW.

  • Any catch here? They normally sell this for $129. So the VIC gov pays all?

    • I had mine installed months ago, no cost to me.

      I think the 'catch' is that the company doing the install gets the green energy credits.

    • Nope no catches, I got mine yesterday they want to see your latest power bill, probably so they can get the rebate from the government to pay for it i guess, and to plug your power tariffs into the app. I wouldnt pay $129 for it, but for free the price is right, it is interesting to show how much power some appliances use real time.

      Go for it.

      Mark

      • Thanks mark

      • Do they just look at your bill ? or do they take a copy of it ? or what do they do ?

        Sorry just asking as the electricity isnt in my name … just wanting to verify what exactly they do before i agree :D

        • They didnt copy it, I had my bill scanned on my phone, they got the amounts I pay for electricity from AGL (in my case), I reckon maybe they get your account number so they can get a subsidy from the government.

    • They have partnered with Sumo energy, so you do get an offers in the app.

  • I get a monthly summary from AGL about my power consumption (standby, lights, AC, heating etc). Is this any different (other than a real-time view)?

    • Yes main idea is to learn what appliances or setup costs as soon as you turn them on
      It also analysis and educates how to save

    • A monthly summary from AGL cannot know the breakdown of standby, lights, AC, heating etc. Even this device does not show that.

      It does give real time usage in a user friendly app nothing more, however I think this is quite useful for looking at your energy usage, especially during lockdown. It is surprisingly responsive as well, turning on/off an LED shows a 2-5 watt change on a 700-800 watt load.

      • Can't you work that out by process of elimination (or addition)?

        • AGL can't.
          They only know your total consumption and have no way of using a process of elimination to work out individual consumption.

          • @spaceflight: I meant with this device, referring to this:

            Even this device does not show that.

            I thought that was the whole idea of this device, instant feedback of consumption?

      • Agreed. The AGL report is only an estimate ("We use your smart meter data, home profile info, weather, and other data to estimate your energy costs by appliance.") Keen to see the differences over the day and at night.

      • AGL sends a monthly energy insights email with breakdown across appliance categories. This is not precise and estimated as you say, but the estimate is based on statistics and machine learning.
        https://www.agl.com.au/yourenergyinsights?page=faqs

    • This is real time.

    • AGL also has 1 day old energy usage data and graph on their MyAccount web site and mobile app. They get this from the energy distributors via the Australian Energy Market Operator.

  • I requested one as my suburb is covered but at the same time i'm in one of the locked down suburbs..lol…not sure if anybody will show up :)

    • +4 votes

      Sorry but we're having to delay installs for the lockdown suburbs for obvious reasons.

      We'll contact you to arrange installation when the lockdown is lifted.

  • Had one installed on Wednesday as well for free. Really good considering I had no visibility of energy usage before, even at $129 if you like watching your energy usage like a hawk it seems a fair price.

  • I can get hourly update from United Energy now. Any difference with this?

    • Same question, I get half hourly updates through Jemena’s portal.

      • Every half hour?

        On in half hourly blocks after processing is done.

      • Yeah, I am also with Jemena, these are not real time, they are available in the portal around 2 days behind. This device give you the same data but in real time.

        • Not true, you can get immediate data.

          On the top right side you’ll see a button “Get Latest Data” and it updates today’s data.

          • @Sleepy24seven: Literally just tried this now on the Jemena website and even after clicking the "Get Latest Data" button the latest data it has is 11AM Yesterday.

            • @Inspiredspider: The grid is gold plated don't demand it to be real time. Just gold plated.

            • @Inspiredspider: Good to see some Jemena Portal users here.
              The way it works is that the meter collects the read every 30 mins, these are stored in the meter itself. The backend system then downloads it from the meter every 4 hour (batched).

              So when you use the “get latest data” button, it basically is fetching the last batched read.

              So for example, if the batch runs at 10am, and you hit that button at 10.05am, then you will get the latest read at 10am. But if you hit that button at 9.55am then you are only getting the data that was collected at the 6am run.

              Sometime the schedule may not be able to download the readS from the meter, this could be due to network congestion or other communication issues. In this case the unread data will simply “banked” up at the meter and will be tried again in next run. This is why some users are seeing data that’s older than 4 hours.

              These collected data are then sent to relevant retailers on a daily bases.

              So retailers data are at best always one day behind and whereas distributors are more up to date depending on how often they download the read from the meter.

              Hope this make sense.

              Cheers

              • @OneEyePanda: I work for an elec company and this is pretty much spot on.

                The use for this meter vs smart meter data is you can see in real time your usage - though for most people what are they going to do with that information I don't know.

            • @Inspiredspider: I just tried it and it is current with today's data updated on the week graph but you are right the daily graph is only current for yesterday, I guess the day has to be finished first before it moves to the daily summary.
              Actually, if you press on the current day from the weekly graph it does show the current day.

    • It's every half hour data from United Energy which you can see when you download the data in .CSV format. It's pretty handy!

    • This is real time in a nice app, so more useful. I turn the kettle on, I know exactly how much energy its using. I turn all the lights off, I know exactly how much they were using.

      • exactly how much they were using

        Exactly depends on the blink rate of your meter and the accuracy of the PowerPal.

        As you use more power, the time between blinks decreases. The PowerPal needs the time between two blinks to calculate the usage.

        1 kWh = 800 or 1000 blinks (imp / impulses), depending on your meter.

        So (using 1000 imp / kWh) if it's blinking one thousand times per hour (once every 3.6s) you are using 1kW. As your usage drops, the time between blinks increases. So low usage combined with rapid small changes could be hard to pickup.

        10W = 6 minutes between blinks, so if you turn a (10W) light on and then off within a 3-6 minute window, it may not be picked up.

        Good reference: http://ssb22.user.srcf.net/elec/imp.html

    • The power usage is almost instantaneous with these. You can turn on a kettle and watch it go straight up. Great to see exactly what an individual appliance is using. They also store the information so when you connect again you get detailed info on when power usage goes up. I can see exactly when my electric hot water is powering up and what it’s costing me. Turns out around 40 cents a shower.

      • That’s what I want to be able to see for different appliances.

        Thanks op. I’ve requested one.

  • Can I a renter have this done or do I need to ask the agent first?

    • +1 vote

      Yes, this can be done as a renter. There is a video on the website that shows installation. The device sticks onto the power metre. You could pull it off when you finish renting or leave it there for them.

    • No reason why you should have to ask, it just sits on top of the smart meter and can easily be fully removed when you move out.

    • You pay the power bill.
      And this plugs into a meter that is owned by the distributor, so I don't see any issue

  • Not Vic-wide. Only Melb Metro.

    • +2 votes

      We're working hard to expand our coverage outside of Metro Melbourne and are actively recruiting new installers (interviews scheduled for next week).

      Do sign up for the wait list and we'll contact you as soon as we've hired an installer for your area.

  • How much do we think energy providers/resellers are willing to pay to access all the customer energy usage data? Aren’t we the product if it’s free?

    The Customer authorises the Company to use and transmit the Customer Data within Powerpal to any third party energy provider or Reseller for the limited purposes of managing and monitoring the Customer’s energy usage.

    • The retailers already get all that data from the distributor, although it is delayed. Retailers may want to purchase the Powerpal data so they can give a better experience to their customers, but essentially it is what they already have.

      • "Retailers may want to purchase the Powerpal data so they can give a better experience to their customers,"

        I read that as "So retailers know when to jack up prices based on load/usage even more".

        So what if this tells you that your power goes up when boiling the kettle? Unless you somehow come to the conclusion that you have have an appliance with an actual issue causing excess usage, what are you going to do with this info?

        Depending on your plan, use your dishwasher/washing machine in off peak (cheaper periods). Knowing the usage of certain appliances isn't going to stop you using them.

        • I read that as "So retailers know when to jack up prices based on load/usage even more".

          You mean they don't already know that from the smart metre that you have (which this device is using), or the load on the power grid, it the load at the power station?

    • In the terms of service, Powerpal can use the data to market third party offers to you:

      IN-APP PROMOTIONS AND COMPARISONS
      The Customer authorises Powerpal to use Customer Data provide benchmarking analysis and provide the Customer with relevant offers from third parties.

  • Anyone willing to post one to Sydney? Happy to pay for the trouble.

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