• long running

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

895

Free in Melbourne and parts of VIC.

With Powerpal you can instantly see how your energy use changes when you turn on and off your home appliances so you can take control of how you use energy in your home. I have been using it for past 5-6 months. Have been pretty good.

Not sure with current restrictions how they are in terms of backlog, but they usually rotate between suburbs, and you get a notification after you register when they are in your area.

In terms of setup - little device that go on the electricity meter, works with bluetooth. I think 5-10 min setup that the powerpal guy/gal does for you.

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Comments

  • +3

    FYI: "Powerpal works with almost all smart and digital meters.

    Powerpal is unable to connect to homes with older "spinning disc" meters. Take special care to check your meter if you have an EDMI smart meter and solar panels."

    • +5

      Well the deal does say 'VIC' and all of VIC has been smart meters for a long time now, so not really an issue.

    • +1

      I'm not 100% sure, but I'm pretty sure I have an ancient power box, and it works fine with mine. YMMV of course.

    • +38

      I've never been spammed and have had one for almost a year.

      • +2

        nor me

        • +5

          I've never been spammed, in fact they've never sent me an email lol

      • any benefit from this in the oast 1 year?
        assuming this is real time data.
        comparing to the usage data from Powercor, any other advantage other than realtime data?

        • +5

          Yep real time. There will be a few second delay if you’re not using much power (under 500w) as it’s not seeing many pulses from the meter.

          Benefits: Prettier visualisations, real-time “what happens to usage if this is on/off/max/min” for deviceX, it does some basic trend analysis (“you used 10% less power this week!”, “you seem to use 100w across all device on standby, costing you $Y”). Easy export to CSV.

      • nor me

  • The installer that came around last year to our place wouldn't install it for us. We live in a lot of 3 townhouses and the meter is beside the common driveway at the front. Said it was too unsecure (people stealing)?

    Walking around my area there are some properties with the same setup with the powerpal installed. Anyone know what the go is?

    • Nah I'm in a townhouse and he came and put one up for me.

      • +1

        Will try again, when they came last time I was in a work call so couldn't be bothered to argue it.

        The person just plain looked lazy.

    • Same issue for me. The reason given was that the house is "too far" from the meter. It is literally 7-8 meters.

      • +1

        I can see that actually - the bluetooth range on these things is not good. My power meter is by the front door and the signal is patchy if I'm towards the back of the house. It can't connect at all if I'm out the back door.

        Other than that though, love this thing!

  • +19

    Its only free to you, but it is paid by the government.

    I have one. It's … okay.. it arbitrarily restricts your export to last 60 days only, despite the data available on the app and can be seen on the chart.

    It sometimes drops out and would not reconnect via bluetooth, and you need to unpair and re-pair the device. If it drops out and you don't reconnect within 7 days, some data is lost forever.

    Only one device can be paired at one time, so you can't have it on, say, your entire family devices.

    I find that at first it was interesting and I kept looking at it. Then you realise your life is pretty much cyclical and the usage is also the same every week/month.

    Being able to see real time data usage is handy as you can turn something on/off and look at the difference and determine how much electric it uses. That's really its only advantage. Any other usage data can be downloaded via your retailer or infrastructure provider's website - which goes back years.

    • +3

      Mine recenly died (wont reconnect) but would gladly get another one if I could and was eligible. Like you say, being able to monitor usage in real time is nice and helps with being energy conscious.

      • Mine too. Just won't connect anymore.

      • +1

        Contact then and they'll send a warranty replacement free

    • -2

      Being able to see real time data usage is handy as you can turn something on/off and look at the difference and determine how much electric it uses.

      Can you give an example? Surely, not having stuff you don't need 'on' in first place makes this thing superfluous and another example of pork barrelling.

      • +8

        example:

        current usage: 500w/h….

        turn on kettle…

        current usage on the app now showing 2500w/h…. therefore kettle uses 2000w as long as its own. Yes I know kettle's watt rating is listed on the kettle itself you could probably figure that out but this works for everything..

        You can work out whats your "always-on" power consumption is as well… eg routers, fridge, computers, etc.

        I've used it to determine what my entire computer power usage is if I left it on, by turning it off and observing the power consumption levels difference.

        • -4

          So, you'd use this to compare your kettles and fridges?

          • +6

            @AlexF: Its good to compare when you get solar, so you don't go 'over' the generation.

            E.g. i now stagger opening my roller shutters instead of just opening them all at once.

            Anything that temporarily pulls load is staggered (a/c, dishwasher, washing machine, drier), obviously u don't need powerpal to do this.

            Its good to see the a/c usage when its maintaining e.g. 16c overnight or the 22c during a hot day vs. the solar generation

            Its also good to see the little additions to the house (think running costs for pets that need heat/pumps etc).

            I've switched from fish to yabbies and ditched the water heater

          • +1

            @AlexF: nah you could use it to determine how much power something draws in "standby" mode. say your microwave or airfryer with its LED lights that's always on. turn all of these "standby" devices off overnight vs another night when they're all on and it determines how much usage they use, and then extrapolate that over a year.

            Might help you make a decision if you turn off the power at the outlet for these devices or not.

            Sidenote; I think most people will be surprised with the amount of "always-on" electric consumption - by just checking at 3am-4am power usage.

            • @lawyerz: That's all I use mine for, I decommissioned my beer fridge over winter since not drinking as much - yet was disappointed my overnight/always on usage remained the same - I guess the fridge is too new and was maintaining good temp since ambient temp cooler - will see come summer when I use it again.

              Tried also doing things like leaving PC on vs off overnight.

              I am actually surprised how little things like TV standby, PC all use.

              My always on is only 100-200w / 0.05c per hour - during the day when WFH, PC on, lights etc, only drawing about 400w.

      • +3

        Yes, I have one and this is probably the greatest benefit. Learning what power different appliances use when idle, that makes you more aware of leaving them off or on. For instance, our Pioneer 5.1 channel amp uses 42 watts when on, even when the TV and all connected devices are off. Before having this device I would sometimes turn off the TV but leave the amp on as I assumed it would only draw a small amount of power, now I turn both off.

        We had a circuit breaker trip in the kitchen repeatedly, and it was useful to work what max power draw the oven / toaster, microwave and coffee machine all draw when turned on at once, or in different combinations.

        But yes, after the initial novelty / honey-moon period wears off I tend to only check it maybe two or three times a month. :)

    • Good analysis.

      As you say, this will not save you money but only provide you with the data. Using an appliance or not really comes down to the alternative(s) that may be available / convenient vs. the running costs. There wouldn't be many instances where people make ongoing decisions to turn something off.

    • +1

      I found a workaround for the one device thing but it's a bit of a pain to set up

      https://support.powerpal.net/hc/en-us/articles/360041444093-...

      I have this set up using an old Android phone in the house on charge paired to the Powerpal, which uploads the data to the cloud, from there I can access it from all the phones I've set the app up on from anywhere

      • Yeah, only thing is the data only updates every 5 minutes or so on the remote device

    • +1

      Government doesn’t buy veecs, not paid for by the government fake news

    • +1

      I feel this is some waste of government/tax payer's fund, it does not help that much.
      Powercor could provide some visualised data as well, and good enough to demostrate the usage pattern.

  • The installers are useless, four times now I've booked a time slot, the window of attendance being 12pm - 5pm, yet the morons text me saying they're coming at 5.30pm when I won't be home. Why they can't just deliver the product and allow self installation is ridiculous, because from what friends and family who have them have said, it's not hard to do.

    • +1

      It's very simple indeed. Just plugin and setup in the app.

    • +7

      If I assume correctly, they "need" to complete the "installation and induction" process so that the installer can be paid and the company has the documentation to claim the gov't subsidy.

      • +6

        Someone's getting rich on this and it's not the consumer.

  • Has anyone who signed up can give some advice?

    Does the PowerPal need to be signed up for in the same name as what the electricity bill is in? Ie live with others can I sign up for this, or do I need to put it in the name of who's on the bill?

    • I don't think that matters.. I would say just Put in your name

    • No the installer will just want you plan info so usage costs can be estimated correctly

  • +1

    I've had this for about a year. Interesting for a week, never look at it now. This is a bulltish post though, it's always been free, and is constantly advertised on Melbourne radio as free.

  • +2

    Got one in Greensborough - it's gamified power saving for me, definitely helps save a few bucks by making me turn dishwashers and stuff on during daylight hours…..

    Can't really hurt for the price of free.

    It is slightly buggy as other people say and disappointing that they don't connect via wifi, and only the single bluetooth device at a time. My advice would be set it to an iPad or similar that doesn't leave the house if you can.

    • Check out origin spike if you're with them. That's actual gamified power saving

  • +1

    How does PowerPal compare to Emerald Energy Advisor? Apparently, it seems like also free in Victoria. Just received a leaflet in letterbox today. Trying to look up for more information.

    • +1

      I received the leaflet as well. I called up for more information regarding their products. Apparently, they said a specialist will call me back in 3 business days. A week later, and no call.

  • +1

    Do the installers have VPIL keys to access the meter box? I'd like to get this installed but I am renting and I do not have access to the meter box.

    • Yes I install emerald ones and I have the power industry keys

  • +2

    completely useless for me. had it installed maybe 6 months ago. only checked the APP 5 times since then.
    The information it collected does not help on anything

  • +1

    I have owned one for almost a year now. I find this incredibly inaccurate.

    For example, on my energy australia online account which has usage tracking, I have used 17.48kW in electricity, it would say my daily usage is 5.46kW on Powerpal.

    I have no idea why it is reporting such different numbers.

    • +3

      Mines bang on when comparing to the agl app.

      Maybe have a party with the settings under Your powerpal > manage > your electricity meter > change or even the led sensitivity?

      • +5

        After reading your comment, I went to have another look, and it turns out the person who installed it set my flashes per KWh to 3200 instead of 1000 for my particular meter model.

        This explains why it is showing 3.2x lower than its supposed to.
        +1 to you mate.

        • +1

          👌

          • @Kammi: Accuracy on mine over 12 month period averaged around 0.5% (under reported) on each quaterly bill, which is very good. My meter does not call home and a meter reader has to come onsite quaterly. The Powerpal devic allows me to estimate how much power is being used between bills. Especially handy if one has TOU (Time of Use) billing.

    • Do you have solar panels? Powerpal doesn't take into account power gotten from solar

      • Your statement doesn't make sense to me.
        How can your grid consumption reported by energy provider be larger than what powerpal reports?

        Your actual consumption can be larger than what you power company reports when you use power from your solar, it's that part that's not measured by powerpal.

        Your reported grid consumption also doesn't take into account power gotten from solar. It knows what electricity you needed (additionally) from the grid.

        If I use 15kw of electricity: 5kw from the grid and 10kw from my solar, than I don't want to see 15kw on my electricity bill as consumption! Powerpal will only show the 5kw just like your energy provider will.

        So what SuperErico is experiencing is probably a wrong sensitivity of the led detection or a defective powerpal.
        Definitely not related to consumption from solar.

  • +2

    I forgot I signed up to this and they kept texting me when they were installing in the area. When I finally said I’d be home they came on time and were good. I check the app pretty frequently and like the novelty of seeing how much things use

  • Our apartment building's meters are two stories down and opposite corner of the building. Would this be usable at that distance or too far?

    • +2

      My meter box is a bit too far away from me as well as it's a communal large box and I'm in a townhouse.

      However, whenever I go for walks and stuff, I just walk near it and get my data synced. I used to like the novelty of seeing the live power usage but after a while, I'm more interested in the retrospective used collected.

    • +1

      Only one way to find out.

      Worst case the app will work when you walk past near the meter and sync its data.

    • +1

      It says that they don't install it for apartments

  • +1

    This uses Bluetooth to connect so if your panel is quite a distance from where you are, it won't connect properly.
    Ours constantly gets disconnected and needs to be paired using the code.

    I did however make $50 from referring our neighbours

    • Then there’s something wrong with the device or the setup. I’ve never once had to repair it to my phone in the last 3 years. I use an iPhone.

      • I had iPad connected initially but unpaired it and paired with an Android phone and that's when it started disconnecting… I may use the new iPad again

    • It basically works when close enough to the device/meter. Down side is that it can only be used with a single device (phone/ipad) at one time with our re pairing it and has limited range due to the fact it uses an old version of bluetooth (I think v4.2)

  • I install emerald ones north of Melbourne if anyone’s interested hit me up

  • +4

    So, this works by physically sticking a sensor to an led on the power meter, counting the number of flashes, and saving that to memory. You can then use bluetooth to access the info from your mobile. In theory this should be fairly accurate, but in practice can be a little hit or miss if the sensor is dirty, or there is moisture in there, or it's out in the open where sunlight can muck things up, etc etc. Basically, it might work perfectly fine for you but for most people it would be of most use to help you identify what appliances are using the most power (by turning them on/off and seeing what impact that has on the power draw) rather than keeping track of how much power you use each day. In addition, I haven't seen this particular device in person, but suspect it has a battery that would need to be changed regularly.

    If you are that way inclined, you can also make your own eg https://simon-aubury.medium.com/home-power-monitoring-65d0fd...

    So potential drawbacks - measuring power use by counting flashes may not be accurate, the bluetooth signal might be an issue depending on distance and what it needs to go through, the memory on the device is probably limited so if you don't connect to it regularly you may lose data, and you'll need to replace the battery(s) at some point. Oh, and if you have solar panels it might get confused as some meters flash when you are exporting power to the grid.

    Personally, I'd have a hunt to see if you can get a reader that can connect to your smart meter wirelessly eg via zigbee - after checking first that the meter supports it, and your distributor also supports such things. For example: https://www.rainforestautomation.com/compare-emu-and-eagle/. You may find that your distributor will recommend something specific that possibly will also be covered partly or fully by the rebate.

    A zero cost option is most suppliers will provide the ability to get data from a website eg United Energy has https://energyeasy.ue.com.au/. The only drawback here is that it is historical data - you will generally not see live power usage, so it's harder to get an idea how much power specific appliances are using. To do that, you can always get something that the appliance plugs into that in turn plugs into the power point eg https://www.bunnings.com.au/arlec-grid-connect-smart-plug-in...

    • +6

      wrt to accuracy - i had this question too so after i installed it for a few months i pulled the raw data and calculated the cost. It was accurate to the cent.

    • +3

      I personally use Home Assistant Glow.
      It cost me $17 in parts (delivered) from Banggood. Uses ESP32 board which is much cheaper than RaspeberryPi and the whole thing works great :)
      No special app, all visible and recorded in Home Assitant. Can even setup automations based on usage or send alerts.

      This is off course for someone who is already Home Assistant user or wants to go down that path.

      • Cool thanks!

        Any idea of the range of the ESP board?

  • I have this installed for a few months.

    I don't check it at all…
    Maybe you guys will use it more.

  • +2

    Just got one installed Saturday. We also have solar panels so when it says 0 you know it's a good time to do anything that requires electricity since the solar panels are producing enough.

    • +1

      Your solar inverter should also have an app showing electricity generation - For example, if it's generating 2kW - you know that's 2000w and you can put on your kettle, dishwasher or washing machine for example.

  • This has always been free, yes?

  • +2
  • These have always been free

    • Yeah.. Was wondering if anyone ever paid for one?

  • Battery life?

    • From memory they mentioned.. battery will last more than device. So years..

    • They mention 10years

  • is sydney within 20km?

      • +1

        And I was shocked by the amount of energy my dish washer consume. So that goes into my off peak cycle

        • +1

          Whatever you can do in off peak, do in off peak. There is obviously practical limitations to that but you do what you can. For stuff you run in peak, do the higher wattage stuff less. Such as don't fill your kettle right up if you are making only one cup of tea. It's a few cents per month but is better than wasting it.

          The largest savings is running the dishwasher and washing machine in off p beeak. Time them so you can empty them first thing in the morning. Dishes are ready to use, clothes are ready to hang out in the sun.

      • +2

        Fair enough…I used the app quite frequently the first couple weeks. After that, I just couldn't bothered. Even if I knew how much energy each appliance uses, it's not like I can just not use it.

  • +4

    This has been amazing for me. I managed to reduce my consumption significantly by understanding and adjusting my usage pattern. I also switch to energy provider that suits my usage. So I went from paying about 1500 a year for energy bill to less than 1k. Someone once mentioned data is king, and I totally agree.

  • +1

    Can this data be shared with someone else? Just imagine someone is tracking your data and found out no energy utilisation, it means they are not at home. Let's steal everything :D

  • +1

    PowerPal organised connection dates and kept on moving them around. In the mean time they kept on spamming me for months until I eventually filed a complaint with evidence.

  • +3

    Guys, this is not free. its paid for by tax payers which is probably yourself.

    As most people have said, its a novelty at first, but after a few weeks you wont be checking if the kettle still uses 2kwh during use. Plus, its on the box.

    most people will find it has limited use, and as someone who has solar panels like i do, who has monitoring knows, its not worth the hundreds it credits the government for.

  • I think this is a pointless exercise, just telling how much power been used by wasting your government money.
    This wouldn't find any items that draw more power unless you turn off everything and check one by one or might as well get $20 adaptor than can check your usage.