Can I use Arduino for Automatic Electric Meter Billing??

Hello Arduino Community,

Im trying to make a project to monitor the weekly consumption in electricity.

The main purpose of the project is to update the user of their Electric Bill every week. This is SMS base also, where in you will be updated via SMS and also you can ask information of your bills via SMS and the device will send you another information (how much you have consumed) in a certain period of time. We would like to store also the information in a SD card. We will use a SD/MMC Card Shield in storing the data.

Im trying to program this but i don't know how to start. Im not so familiar with the commands but step by step im studying them. I just need to know how to start my project.

Thanks in advance.

I guess you could do it if it is installed downstream of the existing meter rather than replacing it, and you are using it to merely advise your victims of how much they will need to pay somebody else. Anything else will likely lead to some entertaining litigation.

I believe there are current meters made for Arduino, and typical kWh meters have an isolated pulse output which Arduino could count.

That's a pretty big project. If you don't know anything about Arduino then it's probably a bit over your head. You should probably start with some simpler stuff until you get used to the language and commands. It's a bit like saying you want to learn to swim by trying to swim across the English Channel.

Or, if getting this done is more important than learning how to do it you could always post in the gigs and collaborations section and offer to pay someone to write it for you.

At the very least we would need some details on the meter in question to try to help you. Will it give up the data or do you have to try to hack it?

Thanks :smiley: for the advice. How about if try to push this project, how can i get started with the program??

You start with a pulse counter.

If you have no Arduino experience I recommend this kit from Ebay:

Arduino UNO starter kit

Once you have finished the 30 lessons you will have a good basic understanding of Arduino. I also recommend you get a Raspberry PI, keyboard, mouse and monitor and use the Raspberry PI to program the Arduino. You get the best of both Worlds with that setup and you might find some projects are better suited for the Raspberry PI.

lwhistler:
Once you have finished the 30 lessons you will have a good basic understanding of Arduino.

I also recommend you get a Raspberry PI, keyboard, mouse and monitor and use the Raspberry PI to program the Arduino

The bit about the 30 lessons I can agree with.

But why get an RPi when he probably already has a perfectly good PC or laptop?

...R

I don't even agree with the kit. Most of the lessons will be a waste of time and the kit is a waste of money. The OP has a pretty clear idea of the project in mind and the kit has nothing he/she wants and lot of stuff that he/she doesn't want, and likely never will.

If you have no idea of what you want, and no idea of what you are doing, a kit might be a good idea, but a lot of people get by without ever having flashed a LED.

You are going to need to monitor the power consumed by continuously measuring the voltage and current. What is the nominal voltage and current you intend to measure?

If it's anything over 110VAC then you may have to deal with more than litigation about someone's bill. You may have to face criminal charges if someone dies using your meter.

Replacing the official meter by your own construction, or even adding something similar but homemade is absolutely out of scope.

If the existing meter has a blinking led, OP has a challenging task to build a phototransistor circuit to detect the blink pulses.
Then

Nick_Pyner:
You start with a pulse counter.

Then you need a display to show the count, eventually in kWh and a little menu with a button to show a long term count and a short term count and a reset function for the short term counter.

Then a RTC, the SD Card,
then the GSM shield for the text messages...

Sammy29:
Thanks :smiley: for the advice. How about if try to push this project, how can i get started with the program??

How would anyone here really know without some details about the meter in question at least?

You may be able to use something like this clamp on ammeter to derive energy consumption

But I guess the main programming effort will go into the SMS billing / enquiry system.

I'd start by listing the transactions (with format) that will occur over SMS, then determining what data you hae to collect/store to support those transactions.
eg send weekly bill to user 1 ; receive command from user 2 to inform of his power consumption on 12.08.2016 ; etc. etc.

That all implies you'll need a database containing user entries (accounts) with at least their mobile phone numbers.

You'll somehow have to calculate the energy used by each user and store this in the users account to support (a) the weekly billing cycle and (2) any adhoc enquiries you define above.
You'll need to think about how much history you keep and also how you will update the the user details (change of mobile number, new user etc. etc. )

If you are doing regular billing cycles, you'll need a real time clock to maintain a calendar (or hope the Arduino never loses power).

I guess that an Arduino is OK if this is a sort of proof of concept/educational exercise but not for a large scale application with many hundreds of users.

You may be able to use something like this clamp on ammeter to derive energy consumption

Non-Invasive Current Sensor - 30A - SEN-11005 - SparkFun Electronics

To accurately measure energy you need both current as well as voltage measurements since voltage and current are both vectors. Are we talking about single or three phase meter here? In the case of three phase metering voltage measurement is even more important.

Next, do we need to measure (calculate) real as well as apparent power or the electric utility only bills for real power?

Complex calculations and vector manipulation is required to calculate all of the above. This is indeed a fairly complicated project for a beginner..

Watcher:
To accurately measure energy you need both current as well as voltage measurements since voltage and current are both vectors.

I think it would be simpler to use a kWh meter and measure that against a clock for a billing rate. If you have more than one phase, you add a kWh meter for each.

Yes. Most energy metrs have an led which flashes every so many kwh. So by counting pulses you can measue energy. You just have to attach a light sensor on the led port. Much more accurate and easy than installing a CT. Other meters have an IR port but you need the protocol spec to use it.

The meters I use have the LED but also a direct output pulse = 1Wh which is opto isolated. No sensors needed, and I'm sure that is common practice.

While theoretically doable with enough time, patience, and/or money, depending on the country this kind of thing could be regulated.
You can measure for fun or just for rough information uses, but if you are a landlord using it as a basis for a tenant payment owed, you would not have protection in court with a homemade device, regardless of how accurate it is.

With any electronic energy meter, there'll be a way of accessing an energy pulse. It could be a visible led, flashing LCD segments, IR port, or 2-wire 3-wire Form-C (YKZ) outputs.

No protocol needed to get energy pulses from the optical communication port. The protocol is only required for programming and reading various registers. In the field, the communication port will output pulses on its IR led at a rate determined by the load and energy constant as stamped on the nameplate. Note that these pulses are not 50% duty (square-wave), they may have duration as little as 2 ms depending on the manufacturer.

Its easy to determine which is the photo-transistor and IR emitter. Just temporarily turn on a heavy load like an oven or clothes dryer, etc. and view the port with a digital camera. Of course, the flashing side is the IRLED.