A lot of people have solar panels installed on their roofs but don’t know when the best time is to run power hungry appliances like a clothes dryer or cook a roast in an electric oven.
What they need is a monitoring system with an easy to use app that tells them right now how much solar power they’re generating, how much electricity their house is using and how much solar power is being exported or imported from the grid.
I’ve previously reviewed Powerpal which is the best gadget and app for monitoring and getting information about grid electricity use if you don’t have solar and want to get great graphs and real time 24/7 super accurate usage data that will help you reduce your power bill.
What is it?
Powersensor is a small, lightweight and is powered by a Lithium Ion battery recharged via USB. Based on my estimates you should only need to recharge the sensors once or twice a year.
Australian tech company DiUS launched Powersensor 2 years ago in late 2019. They market Powersensor as a compact smart device that measures and sends detailed energy usage data to the cloud, using the home owners Wi-Fi network.
Households are able to better understand and optimise their energy usage patterns allowing them to save money because Powersensor enables people to understand their solar generation and better manage consumption.
The general release of Powersensor followed successful trials in 300 homes throughout Victoria, SA and NSW. DiUS says these trials demonstrated that Powersensor is capable of creating the right kind of behaviour change for people to lower grid energy consumption in a tangible way, delivering savings and enabling higher self consumption of solar power generated.
Powersensor is priced at $299 from exclusive distributor Reduction Revolution and can be installed by yourself which means there is no extra install fee to pay an electrician.
Dius say their Powersensor technology is backed by a secure IoT cloud platform hosted on AWS and the mobile app available through the iOS App and Google Play Stores carefully guides the householder through a simple, quick and easy to follow self-install process.
I found that easy DIY promise correct, thanks to Ryan at Reduction Revolution who helped me:
- Figure out the best locations for the solar sensor and grid sensor,
- Best locate the Powersensor Plug and advised how to keep it calibrated by running a high electricity use appliance (in my case a vaccum cleaner as I cleaned that bedroom) plugged into it at least once a week.
In the 3 boxes you’ll find 1 grid power sensor, 1 solar power sensor and the plug which these sensors relay their data to via Bluetooth and onwards to the internet via Wi-Fi.
After installing the Powersensor Android app and following the quick start guide plus safe install guide I attached one sensor to the appropriate cable conduit between my solar inverter & powerboard and the other sensor next to the service fuse in my powerboard meter box.
Follow the install journey including safety warnings through my screenshots in the photo gallery below:
The plug needs to be within your 2.4ghz W-Fi coverage to setup, has to be within about 5-10 metres of your powerboard meter box and as I learnt you need to run a high electricity use appliance plugged into it at least once a week to keep the Powersensor calibrated so data gathered and displayed is accurate.
To be able to keep track of your grid electricity usage cost you need to enter your tariff details, ask your electricity retailer to let you know your daily supply charge, solar feed in tarriff (FIT) and your electricity rate eg: flat rate or Time of Use.
You have to enter all these details in the Powersensor app and if you have a Time of Use tariff that changes seasonally you have to let the Powersensor app know every few months when your prices and tariff timing have changed.
For example I have the Ausgrid Time of Use Tariff so all year my weekends are offpeak/shoulder but during different months the Mon-Fri price changes eg from Nov 1 to March 31 right now it’s peak summer pricing from 2pm-8pm.
After it’s first calibrated you can use the Powersensor to view real time numbers to figure how much solar power you’re generating, how much electricity your house is using and how much solar power is being exported or imported from the grid.
Once it’s up and running you can also view power usage, solar generation and grid electricity cost data for right now as well as previous days, weeks, months etc as well as see how much the appliances plugged into the Powersensor plug have used eg: vacuum cleaner, kettle etc.
Is it worth it?
If you have a solar system you need a tech solution for electricity monitoring to help you make the most of your own power and reduce the amount of grid power you use. There are several possibilities:
- Your solar system is a few years old – it works fine but back in the day the solar inverter didn’t have an option to monitor it via an App with data collected over WiFi.
- You bought a budget solar system without a consumption/export meter included – the solar inverter web admin page or app tells you how much power you’re generating but not how much you’re using or how much you’re feeding back and selling into the grid.
- You have a newish solar system – the solar inverter eg: Fronius or Sungrow was installed with a consumption/export meter. The solar inverter web admin page or app eg: Fronius Solar Web or Sungrow iSolarCloud have a lot of data but it’s kind of nerdy and technical not simple and real time.
- You have a newish solar system – the installer included a consumption/export meter as well as subscription for Solar Analytics in the solar panels and inverter package and has enabled both.
If you’re in situation 1 or 2 this is where a DIY install product like Power Sensor is probably your best cost effective option to figure how much solar power you’re generating, how much electricity your house is using and how much solar power is being exported or imported from the grid.
If you’re in situation 3 with a recent Sungrow or Fronius inverter, Solar Analytics is super easy for your solar electrician to enable and should only cost about $200-$300 for install and a 5 year subscription. If you have another inverter brand buy Powersensor.
If you’re in situation 4 congrats! Solar Analytics is current the best way to monitor a new solar system that has a consumption/export meter installed because it gives you lots of useful data as well as warnings about solar underperformance and possible fault conditions by comparing your solar generation to other systems in your neighbourhood. I’ll be reviewing Solar Analytics soon.
I will be monitoring the Powersensor offering over time, hopefully it evolves. It would be handy to have user configurable thresholds that trigger notifications eg: solar power generation above/below a particular number