.: project description

Electric panels today remain essentially the same as they were a few decades ago, despite rapid advances in technology. This can be limiting not only for power companies, but also for the power consumers.

As the price of electricity continues to increase, homeowners are becoming more concerned with how their electricity is being used. Unfortunately, the average homeowner has no easy or cheap way to monitor specifically when and where the power is used. This project provides the necessary and desired information to both power companies and consumers with a unique, affordable, and accurate metering device. A few especially unique features include:

  1. Circuit-by-circuit power consumption analysis of a building for the consumer's benefit.
  2. Ability for the provider to remotely shut off and resume power service.
  3. Active reporting and alerts for both the provider and consumer.

The Power Information Collection Architecture (PICA) is a collection of components whose purpose is to accurately collect and display information about power quality and consumption to both a consumer and their power provider. Designed to be modular, these components do not require use of all systems, but rather can operate individually, in addition to working together as a suite of sensors and controls to empower the consumer with more accurate and up-to-date information about power usage. The four major systems seen in figure 1 compose the PICA system.




.: system block diagram

Figure 1: The four major subsystems of the PICA system

.: system explanation

The E-meter replaces the conventional electromechanical meter found outside every building. The MSP430 does the monitoring and the LCD displays instantaneous and total usage outside of the building while the ethernet communications allow the system to connect with the MCU.

The solid-state breakers and monitoring are a “smart” replacement for mechanical breakers. They protect the attached circuit from drawing too much current and provide information about power usage for the attached circuit. The solid-state breaker box in the diagram represents the actual on/off switching circuitry. SS-FPGA network is the circuit required to allow the FPGA to control the breaker. The pre-sensor network steps down the voltage and contains the physical circuitry used to measure the current. The ADE7763 is the actual chip that reads the measurements and sends the information to the FPGA. The FPGA controls the solid-state breakers using the information from the ADE7763 and communicates through the ethernet controller with the MCU.

The MCU takes the information from both the E-meter and the solid-state breaker monitors and transmits it to the base station.

The base station displays all information received from the MCU in a location convenient to the consumer.  It also provides the interface for configuring and updating the rest of the system.

The Loads outside of the system each represent a circuit in the building.

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