Autodesk Research

Implementing a Sensor Network at 210 King
November 17, 2009

The next focus of the Digital 210 King project is to collect, map and analyze the energy performance of the office building. These data are crucial for gaining insights towards validating our future simulations and we are currently experimenting on how to implement and manage the real-time collection of building performance data.

To start, we implemented a simple sensor network to collect power-usage data. Due to the scale and complexity of our building we decided to start this new phase by experimenting at a smaller scale, which involves collecting power consumption at three different cubicles co-located on the 5th floor. In this blog we provide a brief overview of basic steps in preparing and implementing our wireless power-monitoring system.

Our system basically consists of a number of power meters, purchased from P3 INTERATIONAL, in addition to a number of wireless transmitters that would transmit the data from a power meter to our server.

Kill-A-Watt power meter and wireless transmitter
Kill-A-Watt power meter (left) and wireless transmitter (right)

To allow for the power meter to report power usage directly to our server, we had to incorporate wireless transmitters on each Kill-A-Watt™ power meter. This enables the transmitter to listen to data coming from the Kill-A-Watt measurement sensor.

Incorporating the transmitter into the power meter
Incorporating the transmitter into the power meter

Once the wireless outlet reporter has been set up, this device can be installed into any plug at a cubicle to read the power consumption. Data is sent through the transmitter and our receiver will receive this data and store it in the server.

Wireless reporter, installed at a cubicle, and the wireless receiver
Wireless outlet reporter (left), installation at a cubicle outlet (center), and the wireless receiver (right)

We have already observed interesting power usage profiles from several devices in the office environment. In future posts we will present in situ visualization strategies for dealing with multiple types of sensor readings.

Useful links
Kill-A-Watt power meter
Wireless transmitter
Build a wireless home-power monitoring system

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