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Note: The BlueLine Power Cost Monitor discussed in this thread is the older unit that has an outdoor sensor and an indoor display unit. Link Below:

https://static.hydroottawa.com/documents/residential/conservation/pdf/peaksaver_user_guides/7-Energy-Display-User-Guide-EN.pdf

https://www.bluelineinnovations.com/help

BlueLine now have a newer unit called "EnergyCloud" which is more expensive and works in a different manner for use on computers/tablets/cellphones, etc.

https://www.bluelineinnovations.com


We had a thread on this device last year. Unfortunately it has been "lost" as part of the forum restructuring. I will recreate the gist of that thread in this new thread from a cache on Google so that discussions can continue if desired:

I believe this is an economical device for measuring your whole home and "incremental" power usage. (incremental usage is only accurate to within 100W, so if you want to accurately measure small devices, you need to purchase a separate Watt Meter that can measure to 1W accuracy).

Post 1, Jake:

Jake said:
http://www.thesource.ca/estore/product.aspx?language=en-CA&product=6118045 (Edit - no longer available at the Source - Search the Web for "Powercost Monitor")

I suggest everyone read the reviews at The Source or Amazon before buying so you will be aware of the potential issues. Too bad the monitor does not have a USB port for downloading the data.

Power Cost Monitor | Welcome
 

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Post 2, 57:
57 said:
That's a very good price for this Blue Line Meter. I ordered one for in-store pick-up. Previous review by Hugh, probably of an earlier model since the display unit looks different:

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=59760

Although this meter would be useful for wattage measurements, it would be difficult (but not impossible) for time-of-use (smart) metering due to the different prices at different times of the day/week and price changes in spring and fall. Also taking the various "fixed costs" for electricity into account, along with HST would be beyond the capability of many people. The cost for "all in" electricity in Toronto is about 13 ¢/kWh for off-peak, 16 ¢/kWh for mid-peak and about 18 ¢/kWh for on-peak, per discussions in other threads. Although the variable costs can be programmed into the display unit, it would be tricky and also the fixed costs would need to be "estimated" into the variable costs. This would give you a pretty good estimate of your costs, provided it's done correctly.

Here's an example of all the items that go into making up your electrical bill (Toronto):

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?p=1090886#post1090886


Here's the list of compatible meters.

http://www.bluelineinnovations.com/Products/PowerCost-Monitor/Meter-Match

It appears that my Elster R1S is compatible...


What I would find most useful is the "appliance" feature because my current Watt Meter cannot do 220V, so I could now measure those devices, as well as any direct-wired, instead of plugged in devices.
 

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Post 3, Jake:
Jake said:
I am still on the fence. My meter is a traditional one so I can't see any problem. No wireless 433MHz devices either. I would be interested in knowing what my total parasitic draw is. Hmm.
 

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Post 4, 57
57 said:
A regular Watt Meter can measure the individual parasites, like I did in the following thread.

http://www.digitalhome.ca/forum/showthread.php?t=35430&highlight=parasitic

A "baseline" usage is also pretty easy to do - for example take a meter reading before going on holiday and one when you come back. At my home this is about 10 kWh/day. This would of course include items like a refrigerator or freezer and any AC/Furnace use while away, but that can be minimized by proper setting of a thermostat and also if vacationing in spring or fall, the HVAC use would be zero or close to it.

I can also see this "baseline" usage on my TOU graphs. The least I've ever used in an hour is just under 250 Watts (0.25 kW).

One reason I'm interested in this device is that it will show me the usage of my new mini-split heat pump, which is 220V. Same for my central HVAC. So far this summer, my mini-split is all that's been required for AC and, although my TOU graphs give me an "estimate" of this usage, it's not exact due to refrigerator, freezer and other usage... The new mini-split has saved me a lot of money relative to using the central AC (more efficient & cooling goes where it's needed). Same goes for its use in the winter and my gas bills were down a lot, while my overall electrical consumption has not even increased measurably. I'm also interested in seeing how well the mini-split's inverter technology works to keep consumption low and constant rather than fluctuating on/off like most "regular" furnace/AC.
 

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Post 5, 57
57 said:
I purchased and installed this unit. Very easy. About 10 minutes to mount on the meter and 10 minutes to programme the display unit.

So far I've done a few rough readings.

- Central A/C - 2.0 kW (don't normally need now that I've got my mini-split)
- Central HVAC Fan - 0.2 kW (200 W - on top of the 2000W for the A/C)
- Mini-split heat pump (today - very hot - 36C) - about 500 W (note this is 1/4* of my Central and keeps up just fine - if it couldn't keep up it'd be using many more W - I did "push" it for a while by lowering the desired temperature and it went to 1000W - it can go higher based on the specs which call for a range or 200-1700W for the unit)

Jake, this unit is no use for (individual) parasitic draws as it only displays to the nearest 0.1 kW (100W). By putting in a large number for $/kWh, you could "backcalculate" a finer reading since the display shows ¢/kWh use, but I don't know how accurate that would be and it certainly wouldn't be any use for the typical parasites. For those individual readings, you'd need a Watt Meter as I mentioned earlier which displays in 1W increments.

* Yes the central air cycles, but mine is a very tight design (1.5 Tonnes) and runs (ran) almost continuously during this sort of heat - about 14-18 hours per day. The mini-split ramps down at night and the draw is about 200W above the baseline (based on TOU graphs)
 

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Post 6, Jake:
Jake said:
I picked mine up Tuesday. Still sitting in the box. This weekend I will have some free time to install it. One value I want to know is my TOTAL parasitic draw. Some devices (like my stove) has a clock and there is no way to determine that value. Also, I suspect my green-washer and drawer might have some parasitic draw. Plus I have quite a few devices (night-lights, clocks, PVR, laptop, cordless phones, etc) and I would like to know the total amount. Basically I am interested in my baseline reading. The lowest reading I get over a period of a few days should represent this parasitic value. Heck even my toaster has an LED that remains on 24/7/365.

57 my batteries were not shrink wrapped. Just sitting in the box. Also, the box was not sealed. Also the Sensor Arm Latch (G in diagram) housing has a gap when the latch is lowered. I can see lowering the latch caused the poorly formed plastic to pull away from the rest of the sensor body. I don't think think it will effect the performance though.

I do have a question about entering tier pricing. My rate is 30kwh/day @ 5.45 cents. Remaining kwhs are 7.46 cents. Service charge is fixed @ 40.64 cents/day. Tax is 12.875%. I am not sure if I should estimate a 30 day month? That is 900kwh/month. Obviously HQ does not know my daily usage. So I guess 900 makes sense.

I could also blend the taxes so it would be 6.15 cents/kwh and 8.42 cents/kwh.

Edit: I just figured out if I take the rate differential of 2.01 cents and compute the number of kwhs that it equate to per month, I can just lower my threshold by that amount to account for the daily fixed charges. Now I just have to make sure the taxes are computed properly.
 

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Post 7, 57
57 said:
Mine was exactly the same. Pretty weird eh? I asked about this when I picked up the unit and the guy said they're all that way. Not sure if they are, but it works and there's a bit less packaging - good... I checked the battery voltage before insertion.

For pricing I set mine for after taxes and TOU (all in) rates of 13, 15, 18 ¢/kWh, per the discussion in post 2 and the second link there. Since most of my electrical use is off-peak, my average will be about 14¢

The regulated tiered pricing in TO is 6.5 and 7.5, but this basically doubles by the time you add all the other items plus HST.
 

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Post 8, Jake:
Jake said:
OK thanks for the confirmation. I should have it installed tomorrow.

Edit: Works like a charm. In case any other HQ customers want to program it for actual costs versus nominal kwh rates I used,

6.15 and 290kwh
8.42 and ----

Technically the threshold needed to be 293 but the unit jumps in increments of 10. If you use these values then the prices shown will include fixed costs and taxes. Accurate to 5 cents/$100.
 

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Post 9, markf:
markf said:
Does the sensor arm still use those non standard voltage AA size batteries? I think they were 3V each x2 batteries. I have an older model (Hydro gave them out to northern residents years ago and I got my hands on one) of this sensor, which if the batteries didn't run at about $13/pair for 6 months ($26/year), I would probably test with my smart meter.

I really liked having the information in my face to help control usage.

What I would really like is the EnergyAxis model made by Blue Line which apparently communicates directly with the Elster (I think that's the brand) smart meters directly. Unfortunately its only available through participating electricity systems and as far as I know mine doesn't offer it.
 

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Post 10, Jake:
Jake said:
It uses regular AA batteries. For freezing temps lithiums will be needed. Once the batteries die I will be replacing them with rechargeables ones.
 

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Jake: I have found that my display unit goes through AA Alkaline batteries in about 4 months, so I've switched to rechargeables there. The outside (sending) unit is still working fine on the original batteries that came with the unit, despite some pretty cold nights. I would have expected the opposite, but I'm fine with it.

Jake, you had a post in the "lost" thread about your baseline usage, perhaps you can add the gist of that here? How are your batteries doing? It's a bit colder where you are.
 

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Funny I was going to post last week in this thread. But yes I have the exact same battery performance as you. Original outside batteries. Inside I switched to rechargeable AAs.

Also, I think there is an issue with the cost estimates. During the summer and fall months the estimates were bang on. Since winter arrived the estimate is off by a factor of 2. Not sure if this is due to missed packets arriving from the sensor or a flaw in the firmware. When my furnace is running it draws 20KW. It is possible the unit is not able to keep the counts accurate at that rate of speed. The disc is spinning quite fast.

I will see if I can find my old post. Hydro rates have increased slightly so I will need to revise my numbers too.
 

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I took the leap and bought the new unit last week. I also bought the Wi-Fi unit and installed it yesterday. Definately interesting to see usage patterns.

20kW for the furnace seems incredibly high for a gas funance. I have an ECM DC motor and draw about 80 - 90 W based on the night time measurements graphed overbase line usage.

With the Wi-Fi unit, you can measure fairly low usage. My low point last night was 96.0W, the peak over the past 24 h was 3.5 kW with an electric heater and hot tub motor running. Baseline is about 120 - 144 W for most of the day. The graphs on Google PowerMeter are interesting to look at.

Just turned on the dryer. Looks like Google PowerMeter shows ~10 minute averages since the Wi-Fi local screen and the display unit show 6.1 kW when the dryer is on.
 

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Thanks Mark for the update. I have an electric furnace (Quebec). At 8 cents a kW all-in it makes sense. :)
 

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Blue Line Support Q/A

Hello, hopefully I can help with some of the issue raised in the posts.

Time of use Pricing Structure – The display can handle both the On/Off or multi slot ON/MID/Off structures. Of course the single and tiered rates structures are also available.

Meter Compatibility – There have been questions about smart meters and yes the device is compatible with most smart meters but there are makes/models that do not output a pulse or are send9ing out burst of infrared data and making the readings seem high. The FOCUS by Landis+Gyr (sometimes “Trilliant” on top) does not output a pulse. The Sensus iCon is usually fine except when confirmed on a full AMI network at which point is will send these bursts of data through the same port that the usage comes out. The sensor interprets these as ‘extra” usage and the readings have been shown high.


Baseline and parasitic loads – the minimum resolution is 100 watts so for very low loads as mentioned in a few posts, you may not be able to pinpoint loads that low. Even CFL bulbs at 9-13w may not cause a shift in the readings unless enough are turned on/off. The strength of the device is the whole hose picture, seeing the appliances, noticing baseline and correcting things you identify through continuous monitoring.

Gap or seam in housing – this is by design and yes present in all models. The section for the arm is designed with that movement so that the arm will not snap the plastic off when adjusting. You will notice this is separate and sealed from the battery compartment so no leakage will happen.

Batteries – Think of the device more along the lines of a digital camera than an alarm clock. Regular AA 1.5v alkaline are fine but in cold weather the lithium batteries designed for cold use provide much better performance. It’s a good idea to change both at the same time. Recharges work fine, however they are designed to drain faster and then, of course, be recharged, so you will notice more frequent “Sleep” or loss of connection. in 206 there was a model that used a unique 3.6v lithium battery, but that was discontinued before 2007.

WiFi and EnergyAxis – The WiFi is an accessory to the sensor/display and the Gateway device itself relays the sensor data into online graphing/trending applications such as Microsoft Hohm, Google PowerMeter, etc. This is available and ready to install provided the sensor is working. The EnergyAxis display does not require a sensor but at this time is only available from utilities in pilot programs. In addition an Elster EnergyAxis AMI network has to be present.

Regards,

Blue Line Customer Care
 

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Thanks HQ. Any comment on my low readings being off by a factor of 2? I have an analog disc meter. As I mentioned the summer "average" readings (peak of 5KW) were bang on. This winter my averages (it frequently hits 20KW for a few hours) were off. I didn't check the kWh readings over a fixed period of time but the instantaneous readings seemed correct.
 

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After a few days a short review:

The display unit and sensor work great together. The display shows power usage to the nearest tenth of a kW, but what I've noticed using the Wi-Fi device is that it rounds down. 0.177 kW will read as 0.1 kW on the display, rather than rounding to 0.2 kW. This knocks all the numbers down a little.

The Wi-Fi unit, while cool when it works, has been more of a challenge. I am having a hard time getting it to function consistently. At first, it kept losing the signal from the sensor outside on the power meter. Now it is literally about 8 feet from the sensor through one wall but only getting 40% signal. Where I have place it, it is not consistently connecting to my Wi-Fi network, so it doesn't update online all the time. Some measurements get dropped which is annoying. It may have something to do with the wi-fi b protocol it works under, coupled with my cheap router, but it is annoying none the less.

If I can get it to operate consistently it will be fun. My usage is relatively low, so I don't think it will be worth it "financially".
 

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Batteries – Think of the device more along the lines of a digital camera than an alarm clock. Regular AA 1.5v alkaline are fine but in cold weather the lithium batteries designed for cold use provide much better performance. It’s a good idea to change both at the same time. Recharges work fine, however they are designed to drain faster and then, of course, be recharged, so you will notice more frequent “Sleep” or loss of connection.
The rechargeable batteries I tried inside only worked for a couple of weeks each (two attempts) before the "low battery" warning came on for the inside unit (BLI-28000). I'm going to give another type of rechargeable that I have used in an older camera a try (Energizer 2500 mAh NiMH instead of RAYOVAC "Pre-Charged" NiMH - no mAh rating). However, if these don't last more than a month, I'll go back to alkalines which lasted about 4 months inside. I realize that rechargeables have a lower Voltage and that the monitor is measuring this voltage, and perhaps there wouldn't be a loss of signal for a while, but that's not something I wish to "risk". I change to freshly charged batteries the day after the low battery indicator comes up.

The original batteries are still in the outside unit (9 months now), so I see no reason to change them at the same time as the inside - that would be wasteful.

It's also odd that the unit will remember the settings for TOU and energy used, however, the time and date are lost when you change batteries - a bit of a pain.
 

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57 my low bat SENSOR just came on. Also, I can usually run low bat DISPLAY for weeks before I notice it has stopped receiving data. I think I get 2 months out of a set of eneloops. You know it is truly dead when the horizontal bar stops advancing.
 

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Thanks Jake. I may give that a try. The first time my unit went to sleep, I don't even recall seeing the low battery warning, although it may have been there. The voltmeter on these units may differ a bit so some may get a longer time after the low battery warning than others. Also the type of battery (drain profile) would likely affect the "after" time.
 
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