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Help brainstorming a Smart Grid Project

  1. Jul 7, 2013 #1
    Any ideas on how I could put together a smaller prototype of a smart grid system? Just brainstorming here but here are a few things I was thinking

    Grid in a BOX

    Marketability is key right? So why not design some kind of "smart box" system that residential home owners can use in their homes to maximize/minimize their energy usage. A mish mash of sensors of various types that relay information to an android based application that tracks various measurements across a variety of different energy consuming systems (lighting, internet use, temperature etc etc). Output graphs, charts and other data sets to help consumers get the best bang for their buck in their electricity usage.

    Yes I can imagine this will be quite difficult....so that's why I come back to all of you lovely people to hopefully steer me clear of disaster
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 7, 2013 #2


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    DeeJay Cruiser, When you get an idea like your "smart box" system that residential home owners can use in their homes to maximize/minimize their energy usage." you could save yourself lots of time and energy if you first research the present market to discover whether it's already been invented, marketed, and in use.

    Google is your friend: using the search terms “residential electric energy usage monitor” I found many different systems for sale. Here’s just one that seems to do what you’re proposing:

    Now, if I’ve misunderstood your intention, please explain your idea with more detail. Thank you.
  4. Jul 7, 2013 #3


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    Here's my "smart grid" interface.


    complements of berkeley.edu
  5. Jul 7, 2013 #4

    jim hardy

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    I dislike machines that presume to think for humans. I won't even get into an Airbus.

    One can buy an expensive gizmo to measure his appliances' power consumption..
    ...or he can "feel" around it to see whether it's expelling significant heat.
    If it's not - it isn't worth trying to economize on that one.

    SmartGrid makes me shudder - it's a way to raise electric rates, and a way to let a computer someplace far away take remote control of my "smart" appliances.

    Guess i'm just a curmudgeonly old technophobe.

    But - making grid smart in the other direction, ie balancing the grid's transmission lines and substations to generation and load, will be a good and proper use of the technology.

    @DJCruiiser: Have you interest in "Power System Analysis" ?

    old jim
  6. Jul 7, 2013 #5
    Bobby I apologize because you are absolute right and I should know better....I have read about android/ios applications in the past that do have "smart" features, but I have not read about them recently. I should definitely do my own research first but nevertheless thank you very much for the link, I really appreciate it
  7. Jul 7, 2013 #6
    Jim...your wisdom speaks layers...I'm just a naive student trying to find a unique way to position myself in the market with something that will make me stand out to prospective employers. Perhaps, as you mention I'm trying to fix a problem that isn't even there.

    Power is my passion, I was just on a flight today and the power cut out during the taxi, and people on the plane were sweating bollocks until power was restored and the AC came back on....power comes in many forms of course, but I truly am fascinated by how dependent we are on it, and how ubiquitous it is.

    Yes I am interested in power systems analysis to answer your question :) :)
  8. Jul 7, 2013 #7

    jim hardy

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    Thanks DJ

    I don't want to curb your enthusiasm.
    There exist small watt-meters with a cord and receptacle for exactly your purpose. I wouldn't spend much for one myself, it's just a toy, but people will buy such things.

    I don't know how cheaply you could produce and sell them . To do it right you need a current transformer and an analog multiplier IC and minor electronics, plus a readout.

    I could see people buying them if you could get them out there for around fifty bucks. I envision a small box with power cord , receptacle and meter, and perhaps a computer interface for data logging. Energy efficiency consultants might buy them, and serious homeowners who don't own a clamp-around ammeter..

    It'd be a great thing for your resume.

    old jim
  9. Jul 7, 2013 #8

    I really like the "out of the box" concept, clean and simple, whether for a company or an individual home owner.

    At any rate, it's clear I have my work cut out for me...I'll hit the drawing board and see what I can put together. Thanks Jim!!
  10. Jul 7, 2013 #9


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    You are aware that the Air France crash happened in part because the plane stopped trying to override the human who flew the perfectly airworthy airplane into the ocean, right?
    In my area, the power company pays you for that capability. And not just with a reduced electric rate, but an actual cash bonus.
    That is the main point: to flatten the demand curve so that the grid is more stable and fewer power plants are needed.
    Agreed! :tongue:
  11. Jul 7, 2013 #10

    jim hardy

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    I've seen the PBS documentaries on it and followed a couple aviation blogs shortly after the loss.

    My problem with airbus is in my opinion it is over-automated.
    Pilot controls attitude not through traditional yoke & wheel but a joystick like on a computer game.
    How (indeed whether) it provides tactile feedback is not clear.
    In a traditional cable & lever setup the force on control surface is transmitted to pilot directly through the mechanical linkage. I believe this was current aircraft technology through B52.
    So the airplane has a definite "Feel" to the controls and one can sense low airspeed by that feel.
    Even Howard Hughes' WW2 "Spruce Goose" had that tactile feedback - its control surfaces were too big for a man to move so Hughes designed hydraulic system with force feedback to pilot's controls.

    So - if you take away a man's sense of touch so he can't "feel" the airplane,
    and you place him a nighttime blackout situation where he has no sight
    and you take away all his cockpit indication (all 3 pitots are believed to have iced over and maybe both instrument static vents too, causing the computers to give up)
    and you throw a zillion alarms at him (the computers crashed and rebooted several times)
    and you change the airplane's flight characteristics (heaven knows how much ice was on the wings)

    I wouldn't be surprised if he flew it into the ocean by placing nose down in a desperate attempt to regain indication of airspeed. With static vents iced over altimeter was probably nonfunctional too.

    I also believe that tactile feedback to a traditional yoke might well have saved that flight. It'd tell him he has adequate airflow over the control surfaces and needn't be diving.

    So is an over-automated ship that's lost its automation still airworthy?

    again - i'm not an aviation expert
    but I've seen mantraps built into other designs.

    And yes, I am a curmudgeon on this issue.

    Thanks for the good-natured gig on smartgrid. It is doubtless well intentioned but I fear its capabilities will lead to regulatory and business excesses.

    I suppose that's why we are allotted but threescore and ten - in that time the world changes more than we can stand !

    ...still a slide rule guy,,,,

    old jim
  12. Jul 7, 2013 #11


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    I totally agree. :shudder:

    Like you, I've seen first hand where technology is taking the grid.


    It's one thing to flatten the load this way when necessary to protect transmission lines, generators, etc., but I'd wager to bet that the big power users (revenue generators) like smelting companies, etc. wouldn't be the sheddee; rather my and your air conditioners during 100°F temperatures would be. :mad:

    curmudgeonly old technophobe too
  13. Jul 8, 2013 #12


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    What's interesting is you need surprising few "energy" sensors to measure the majority of a typical home's energy consumption. And for the typical American household in 2009 things like lighting and internet don't make up a significant fraction of the total energy use. For the best bang for the buck one should look at their home heating and cooling system and water-heater.

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