Enhancement ideas for Flukso

Here are some random thoughts from somebody who is considering buying a Flukso to finish off a home project:

1. Allow Flukso's digital inputs to be set to other types (and calibrations) of sensors, in particular a water flow meter like this: http://www.jaycar.com.au/productView.asp?ID=ZD1200 (should be easy to do, since it is also a hall effector sensor like the current sensor). These could easily be mapped on the same graph as power usage to get a 'whole utility' view.

2. Allow Flukso's analogue input to be set to a pulse counter input using an LDR. Our power meter has an LED pulse output of 1 pulse = 1 kWh used. All it should take is an LDR on this LED, count the frequency of pulses, and there is a true real-time RMS view of power consumed, no clamps required! This could also be done using a digital input with a circuit against the LDR ... but my electronics are too rusty for that.

3. Others' blog posts have spoken about using a digital counter (Velleman USB Experimenters Board) to measure gas usage, with a reed switch placed on the outside of the gas meter (the person in this case discovered that their gas meter had a magnet on the smallest meter wheel, which would trigger the reed switch on each revolution). This could also be an input into the Flukso, meaning you could potentially use the three existing digital inputs to measure water, power and gas!

4. Enable use of Flukso's inputs for different power circuits, e.g. if you only have single phase power you only need one clamp, however if you get the three clamps you could put one around the lead-in, one around the light circuit, and one around the power circuit, that way you could see the relative consumption of lights vs power points. Likewise (as David Rowe pointed out) people with PV systems have a challenge measuring only one point - with three independent inputs the other clamps could be around "power exported" and "power imported" vs "power consumed".

5. Enable UPS integration to obtain the missing part of the equation - voltage - to obtain real kWh measuring (rather than guestimating based on an assumed voltage). Most network-enabled UPSs will report this, and I would expect that many Flukso users would have a UPS-monitored voltage input available on their network.

6. Integration with home automation systems - in my case an ELK M1 Gold, allowing the ELK panels and touch screens to display the power used.

7. Support power over ethernet (like amwasser I intend to hardwire in a Flukso rather than use wireless). Yeah sure, this is a pipe dream as PoE switches are not widespread and a PoE splitter is not cheap to implement, but this is my list of dreams after all. It seems like Flukso uses 3V power which is also a challenge as the PoE splitters I have and know of only output 5V as a minimum which means no choice but to rely on a wall plug.

I hope this provides some inspiration to other tinkerers.


Wozzzaaa's picture

Great points.
Next month iam thinking of getting a 2nd Flukso to monitor my Grid Connected solar output. I will be running both flukso's hardwired through a home made Power Over Ethernet setup.

Thats a great idea for the gas & water.

Now with measureing the output of a Grid Tie inverter, my understanding is that it matches the phase & raises the voltage slightly to above the grid voltage. So any readings would be skewed as Flukso assumes the voltage is a steady 240v

Incidentally I would be breaking 2 sets of laws, here in Australia its illegal to access behind the fuse panel without an electricians license and its also illegal to run communication cable yourself without a cablers license. Nanny state indeed...

icarus75's picture

1/ The Fluksometer's digital input ports are configured to accept sensors with an open-collector-type output. So you could hook up this water flow meter to a digital input port on the Fluksometer to count pulses. The datasheet also states that the ZD1200 can be supplied with 2.4V to 24V DC allowing it to accept power from the Fluksometer's 3.3V rail too. The Flukso platform accepts different types of sensors and calibrations. It's just not present (yet) in the web interface. When setting up a prototype system, we could just configure the calibration value in the database. For higher flow rates the meter constant converges towards 3.5ml per pulse. We'd have some undershoot at 1.5l/min though.

2/ The main obstacle to using this type of setup is that different utilities use different types of energy meters. These do or do not have a LED output pulse. The physical properties of the LED such as intensity, light frequency, viewing angle, etc. all differ. And in Belgium, the meter itself is contained in a larger, sealed, transparent box. So there's no way to even hook up a sensor to the energy meter.

Note: For counting pulses it's better to use a digital input.

3/ Provided that the gas sensor's output is an open collector one, this should be perfectly possible, see 1/.

4/ We've received a first production batch of v1.2 of the Flukso sensor board as a Christmas present. This new sensor board contains two analog inputs. We will be prototyping a setup measuring energy consumption and PV production. Energy import/export can be derived by subtracting these two values.

@Wozzzaaa: As the inverter is shorted to the mains, there simply can't be any significant deviation from the grid voltage.


drowe67's picture

@Wozzzaaa yes it took me a while to understand how grid connect inverters actually work. I also thought that they must raise their output voltage to make the current flow back into the grid, and discussed the question on my PV Solar blog post.

Finally John posted this comment explaining the inverter is a current source, not a voltage source. The electronics in the inverter acts to regulate the current flowing out of the inverter, not it's output voltage.

As Bart suggests the grid impedance is so low that the inverter output must be at exactly the same voltage as the grid.

You know I asked the question "how does the inverter supply power to the grid" to many people before John posted his explanation. The Solar Shop guys didn't know, or the electricity company, or any other electricians I asked.



eFfeM's picture

Actually it would even be nicer to be able to use an ultrasonic flow meter.
No idea how expensive they are or how reliable. Main advantage is that it is non intrusive. I am not really into plumbing :-)