There are two ways I am willing to entertain for measuring current. One is via a current transformer and the other vial hall effect.
I combed the web to look for affordable devices in North America. It seems that Europe has access to cheaper current transformers. I ended purchasing three (3) current transformers and two(2) hall effect chips.
Two (2) revenue Grade Current Transformer Two from CR Magnetics to install on each side of my 200A pannel per each side (CR8459-2000-N)
One (1) general purpose 0-20A for experimentation CR Magnetics (CR8410-1000)
Two (2) Hall effect bases chips from Allegro ACS712ELCTR-20A-T
I ordered on-line via Digi-Key and found to have an excellent customer experience. I opted for one stop shopping for other goodies such as zigbee chips and other odds and ends. I also wanted something Canada friendly so I picked a place that operates in both Canada and US.
I entertained the idea of spit-core transformers to facilitate wrapping around the wire. I could not find some at a cheap rate and figured some higher quality ones could be used for permanent installation. I’ve done enough wiring to feel comfortable inside the panel box. I would not recommend venturing in high voltage areas without a good understanding what can harm you. Get an electrician to wire those if you have any doubts.
I have a bunch of AC transformers lying around so I plan on using those to measure the AC voltage. 120:10 volts p-p will do as that is all I have in stock.
I entertained the idea of using a multi-tasking OS such as The FreeRTOS Project and finding a board to host it. The KISS principle forced me to focus on deploying hardware to perform specific tasks and avoid creeping elegance. I only want a device that at will feed into the mesh network. No sense over engineering things. I can use the FreeRTOS for a data concentrator later on. There were many choices out there e.g. PIC and Micromint. I opted for simplicity and went with the Arduino Duemilanove.
I purchased my Aduino from spikenzielabs along with the following to help me get ball going.
- Arduino Duemilanove w/ Atmega328
- XBee Explorer USB
- Adafruit Proto Shield for Arduino
- Basic 16×2 Character LCD – White on Black 5V
- Breakout Board for XBee Module
Time to plug things in and see what happens.