Product Review - Wattson

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Product Review - Wattson

Postby zzsstt » Fri Dec 18, 2009 5:34 pm

I have been living with Wattson on my desk for a few weeks now, and I've found it to be very useful.

The Wattson is an energy usage meter from a UK based company called "DIY-Kyoto". Like several similar products, it has power sensors that fit around the main supply cables in the meter box, and wirelessly report energy use to a display unit inside the house. The sensor system is battery powered and can be set to report use at intervals of every three seconds or longer periods to provide a longer battery life. As standard it is supplied with one sensor "clamp", but can be connected to additional clamps to measure a second or third phase - the cottage I am using it in has two supply phases so I am using two clamps. The phases are summed, no individual reporting is possible. The Wattson can also utilise a fourth clamp to monitor power generated by a PV system.

The display unit is quite a neat device. On the top it has a numeric display that will show watts or cost/year. On the base it has a bunch of coloured LED's that can be set to glow, with the colour changing when usage increases. I must say that after about an hour the "glowing colour" aspect got stale (for me) so I switched it off and just use the unit to display watts. The display is powered by a small plug-in power supply, which also charges an internal battery that allows the unit to be carried around as appliances are turned on or off to investigate their impact.

The Wattson can be connected, via USB, to a computer to allow download of the stored data. It will store four weeks of energy usage history in the unit, but this can at any time be downloaded to a computer running the free "Holmes" software that is available from the manufacturers web site.

The Holmes software allows a database of use history to be built up. It also allows various settings on the Wattson display to be altered, such as the currency symbol. Once a few days of data has been collected, Holmes also sets and maintains an "average use" level on the Wattson display, and this is used to modulate the colour changes, so that above average use causes the Wattson to glow red.

Holmes can be set to have several charge rates (peak, off peak etc.) to allow a more accurate analysis of cost, and will display usage in various form (watts, cost, CO2 emissions) and over various time bases (hours, days, months etc.). If an extra current clamp has been fitted to the meter box sensor box to monitor PV generation, this can be dispayed in the Holmes software as well.

Whilst the measurement approach (current clamps in the meter box) is inherently less accurate than measurement of an individual appliances consumption (using a Powermate, for example), I have found the Wattson to be a fabulous device. It allows me at a glance to see "whats going on" and acts as a constant reminder of my power use. It has pointed out some "operator errors", when the unit displays a higher than expected reading indicating that something has been left on by mistake. It has also shown a few interesting power guzzlers, like the air conditioners that use nearly 30W each, even when switched OFF (standby).

The Holmes software can be used to view usage "habits", by comparing use by hours across the day, or by day across a week. It can therefore also be used to track improvements (reductions) in consumption. In the longer term (with more data) usage patterns by month will demonstrate the seasonal changes in consumption. For the user interested in such things, it can automatically post your power usage to the manufacturers web-site for the world to see.

Whilst the software is informative, for me the single greatest selling point of the Wattson is that big red numeric display showing our instantaneous consumption. It makes it very clear to everyone in the house just how much power we are using.

As a memory jogger and "guilt creator", I highly recommend the Wattson!

(I have no relationship with the makers, importers or retailers of this unit!).
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Re: Product Review - Wattson

Postby Bthree » Fri Dec 18, 2009 7:12 pm

Link.... http://www.diykyoto.com/au

Nice review, can you tell me more about the 4th sensor for PV output please
Network = Powercor .. Retailer = Origin .. Installed Christmas 2008
Latronics PV-1200 feed by 8xTrina TSM DC-01 .. 170watt = 1360watts DC in .. 1096watts AC out .. 5+years later 990watts ac out
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Re: Product Review - Wattson

Postby zzsstt » Fri Dec 18, 2009 8:20 pm

Bthree wrote:Link.... http://www.diykyoto.com/au

Nice review, can you tell me more about the 4th sensor for PV output please


To be honest, not based on experience! The cottage at which I am using this Wattson does not have any PV generation, so I am not using that function. The measurement itself is taken exactly the same way as for the consumed power, i.e. a "current clamp". One current clamp is supplied with the Wattson, but it has the capability of using four, being 3 phases of consumed power and one to measure generated power. One current clamp socket on the Wattson sensor unit is designated for the measurement of generated power.

Because a current clamp cannot tell which way the power is flowing (only the magnitude of flow), the clamps should be positioned to allow for this. The additional notes on the DIY-Kyoto web page explain how to achieve this, but basically the "consumption" clamps are located downstream of the PV insertion point, and the PV sensor is on the inverter line. This allows total consumption and total generation to be measured separately. If these connections cannot be achieved (for example if the PV system feeds in to a sub-box that is geographically removed from the main feed) the system cannot measure use and generation independently.

Once the connections are made, there is a tick-box in the Holmes software that is used to tell the Wattson unit to record generated power on the fourth current clamp socket. After this (and I haven't tried it!) I imagine that generated power is reported and graphed in much the same way as consumption...... If you are really interested, I could move a current clamp to the generated socket and "fake" some generation (which would actually be usage on the second phase) and see what happens.....!
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Re: Product Review - Wattson

Postby Bthree » Fri Dec 18, 2009 9:13 pm

Thanks for the additional info, I have the answer and understand what you have said.

Ran the logging software which is OK for energy logging but not much good on costing for AUS conditions specifically my RED Solar plan which gives me offpeak power all weekend as well as 11pm to 7am weekdays

Also it would not be able to work out nett feed in tariff (mine), OK for gross feed in using the generated power input

Very interesting product though and looks like a cut above the rest (I like the logging bit to PC)
Network = Powercor .. Retailer = Origin .. Installed Christmas 2008
Latronics PV-1200 feed by 8xTrina TSM DC-01 .. 170watt = 1360watts DC in .. 1096watts AC out .. 5+years later 990watts ac out
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Re: Product Review - Wattson

Postby zzsstt » Sat Dec 19, 2009 6:30 am

I have not investigated much of the costing aspects of the Holmes software, being more interested in the actual power usage. This is not because of any inherent "greenism", but simply because if I use the power, I use the power! I have no control over what I pay per unit, so I am more concerned about the number of units I use. My Country Energy bill will tell me what I need to pay......

I do not know how responsive DIY-Kyoto are to change requests for the Holmes software. The system as it stands was clearly designed for the UK, and off peak use was historically different over there, in that all usage in the off-peak period was charged at the lower rate. In Australia (historically) there was a separate meter for off-peak, that only fed the water heater. All other usage was still at the main rate.

These days, new meters in Australia are normally time of use meters so all the power comes through the single meter. Having said that, I have noticed that I have a TOU domoestic meter that charges all the times at the same (peak) rate. They are reported on the bill as three separate readings, but then all have the same rate applied. I am not sure whether there is still a separate off-peak hot water (controlled load) meter when off-peak hot water is used.

I will put in a request to DIY-Kyoto for the the "advanced rates" section to allow for weekend off-peak use, and see what (if anything!) happens!. The same applies for net/gross FIT. If use and generation are measured separately (the clamps connected as described above) it should be very simple for the software to display either gross or net tariff!
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Re: Product Review - Wattson

Postby Bthree » Sat Dec 19, 2009 8:46 am

I have an efergy ATM and although it serves me well recording AC output of the inverter it is not as advanced as the Wattson, the USB interface would have been really nice, suffers the same problem as yours being designed for England
Might see how the product matures. All very interesting.
Network = Powercor .. Retailer = Origin .. Installed Christmas 2008
Latronics PV-1200 feed by 8xTrina TSM DC-01 .. 170watt = 1360watts DC in .. 1096watts AC out .. 5+years later 990watts ac out
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Re: Product Review - Wattson

Postby zzsstt » Sat Dec 19, 2009 9:21 am

I looked at the efergy, and a couple of other similar systems including the one sold by JayCar. They are all quite similar, most allow monitoring of more than one phase, a couple can have their data uploaded to a PC. The Wattson seemed to have everything that any of the others had, plus a few extra features.

The software for all these units is developing constantly, albeit slowly in some cases! The ability to have multiple cost rates is now available in the Watts Clever (JayCar) unit, but I'm not sure if it's by 24 hour cycle or 7 days/24hours.

As far as I'm aware, the Wattson is the only one to allow measurement of consumption and generation, and when (?) the software catches up to enable net or gross tariff etc., it will be even better. Because the data is already stored on the computer, such software upgrades should work with historical readings as well.

When all is said and done, for us the main benefit of the Wattson is the big red numbers! Having had one for a while, I honestly believe that Australia would save more power by mandating the installation of a large numeric display showing instantaneous power use (and possibly $cost/year at that consumption rate) in every living room and office, than with all the CPRS nonsense.....
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Re: Product Review - Wattson

Postby Gordon-Loomberah » Sun Dec 20, 2009 12:55 pm

I wonder if these will work properly with stand-alone inverters? I have a $50 power meter from Lawrence and Hansen, which looks the same as many others on the market (cant check brand on it ATM as I lent it to a friend), which reset itself a lot. It worked fine with no problems on my 2.5kW Selectrocics inverter (currently my spare), but the 3kW Latronics output doesnt agree with it very well. It often resets when appliances turn on (not necessarily the one its connected to), making long term monitoring impossible. It often gave ridiculous frequency readings anything between 52 and 100Hz, and sometimes was rapidly fluctuating so much it was unreadable. Its power factor readings were also very dodgy.
Latronics suggested putting a 10uF capacitor across the Inverter output, I only had a 3uF handy at the time and used it instead, and that did help a bit - less resetting and more believable readings, but still not quite right. I bought a 10uF cap, so might swap it over it next time I want to monitor an appliance.

Gordon
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Re: Product Review - Wattson

Postby Bthree » Sun Dec 20, 2009 4:03 pm

The wattson and efergy monitors work by measuring the AC current by way of a CT and voltage is a manual entry in the setup screen (on the efergy at least) so no PF correction figure either. I use the voltage setting to calibrate the efergy against the inverter meter reading over a week.

I have my CT clipped directly at the output and inside the inverter with the lead going out to the wireless transmitter (443mhz range about 10-15 meters within the house)

Has been reliable for me in twelve months of operation
Network = Powercor .. Retailer = Origin .. Installed Christmas 2008
Latronics PV-1200 feed by 8xTrina TSM DC-01 .. 170watt = 1360watts DC in .. 1096watts AC out .. 5+years later 990watts ac out
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Re: Product Review - Wattson

Postby zzsstt » Sat Jul 31, 2010 6:20 pm

Longer term view:

OK, I've had it for quite some time now. Most of what I originally said is still the case, the most useful aspect of this device is the big glowing consumption numbers. The newer versions now include a PSU that allows the sender unit to be mains powered, which is useful as changing/recharging the batteries every couple of months is annoying.

The downside is the software. It has not changed since I bought the unit. There was a very minor bugfix release early on, but absolutely no significant development. I find this a great disappointment, as the unit has the potential to be so much more than it currently is.

I actually wrote to the makers of the Wattson a while ago, asking whether there would be any further development of the "Holmes" software (I stated that this I was asking because I was writing a follow-up to a review). I was told there would be more development, though it seemed they were more interested in "glitter" such as an iPhone app rather than any nuts and bolts useful features. Unfortunately absolutely nothing has happened! Development of a small stand-alone piece of software like this is not rocket science and does not require a massive team of programmers, so the lack of development is "interesting". On similar lines, I find it fascinating that the website for this device now features a swath of "pimp your Wattson" pictures, and versions with even prettier (shiny metal) cases. My belief that most "greenies" are more interested in impressing each other than doing anything useful was certainly not reduced by exposure to the Wattson crowd!!

Overall I still like the Wattson as a consumption meter. It makes it obvious when things are sucking lots of juice or have been left on by mistake. The lack of software development is a shame, and to my old and cynical eyes seems to be a case of "sit back and take the money", which sadly seems all too common in the "green" industry. Given the failings or omissions in the software (such as TOU rates being limited to a single 24hour pattern that does not allow weekends to be different, as my rates are) I no longer bother to download the data to the computer. Once the computer download is removed, the Wattson becomes simply a very pretty version of the many other meters that do the same job, probably at a lesser cost.
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