Asking For Build Your Own Instructions

Hey there!

I came across your forum post about the IoTaWatt and I’m really intrigued by the idea of a power analyzing device. It sounds like a cool project! I was wondering if you could share any resources or tips on how to build your own. I know about the github but I’m semi inexperianced on reading the github information. Does anyone know where i can find simpler instructions on how to build one.

Thank you in advance

Unless you plan on spending a significant amount of time becoming, at least, competent in several areas that are not simple, it would be best to purchase a pre-built system.

Since IotaWatt is not selling them anymore, you can try Smart Guys in Australia

They are supposed to have some more in September.

Depending on what you are looking to learn and what you are willing to spend there are other choices.

If you are having difficulty just reading the information about Iotawatt on GitHub, actually building one yourself is likely going to be too challenging. Using a pre-built one is trivially easy compared to building one. Yet, if you search the posts here, you will see many people have had issues with that. But, most were successful after getting some help here.

So, the Easy Button here is buy one. That is less easy now, but still possible.

I have experiance with arduino and raspberry pi coding. The purpose of it is to learn more by doing it as a project. And i just have no idea whats what on the github cause I’ve never used githud for anything before. I’m more after what i can learn by doing it then having a system.

Great. This is not a beginner, or even intermediate project. You are going to have to learn how to build hardware. Do you know how to solder at all? Do you have experience in surface mount technology? Do you really want to build a fairly complex piece of hardware or are you more interested in learning about your energy usage?

The PC board is not that big, but it does have quite a few components on it, some of which are surface mount. If you have never had a PCB made and then mounted and soldered all the components, this is probably not the one with which I would suggest starting.

If you want to learn more about power/energy metering with reasonably easy to acquire hardware, I would suggest:

They have a good community of people if you have questions. I still use emoncms for some of my monitoring. It was the 2nd service I started using. It was great a decade ago, when there was little else. I think the combination of InfluxDB and Grafana has much better visuals and capabilities, but it is also more complex to understand.

There are many choices and too much to learn, so pick a direction, learn more about it, then course correct as you learn more, or find things you can’t do going in the direction you are headed.

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Thanks for the advice, this is a lot of good information.I will need to learn about surface mounting and probably wouldn’t go for making a PCB. Thanks for the advice! I’ll do some research on it. I honestly just want some sort of challenge to helo improve my coding and hardware construction. :slight_smile:

What have you already done in hardware?
What exactly do you want to learn?
How to solder?
How to tell different parts apart?
How to place them?
How to figure what is wrong when you put the wrong part in place?
How to figure which part is wrong when none of them let out the magic blue smoke?

Since you said hardware construction, I am assuming that you aren’t really concerned/interested in the design aspect of it.

There are several threads here and a whole section on Homebrew Iotawatt where people have shared what they have done to make their own. That all looked too much like work for me to want to do it. Read all the posts in the Homebrew section and then ask questions about particular things that are confusing to you. You aren’t going to find the Dummies Guide to Building Your Own Iotawatt, since no one has written one. If you are are truly looking for a project, you could probably write that guide once you figure out more with some help.

If you don’t really want to learn that much about building hardware, but still want energy monitoring, this might be a good idea:

You will need to learn a little about hardware, but will mostly be in the setting software configuration domain.

Thanks for the tips. Yes you are correct I don’t have a massive amount of ecperiance in constructing the parts. I can solder, somewhat tell parts from eachother. I know one of the best ways to troubleshoot a circuit is to look at it with a thermal camera so you can see if any parts are warmer than the rest. I’ll have a good look at the Emporia Energy Monitoring, because I have more experiance with the coding aspect than the hardware.

The hardware is just an esp8266 and a couple analog digital converters. It’s really fairly trivial.

The hard part is the software. If you don’t need super fast spi adc’s, which most people don’t, then you can simplify this part greatly by using something like esphome, as well as save a few bucks with i2c adc’s. But if you need the fast reads that iotawatt provides, best to just fork the existing firmware or find another project in active development. I have 20 years experience as a software engineer and I wouldn’t try to build something like that from scratch unless I really hated my free time.

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So, admittedly I am not good with code, and can follow instructions for hardware.
It looks like the open source files are complete and available.
There are places that can build and complete a PCB from files.

So the hardware can be built by a professional.

The software appears to be well developed.

What am I missing?

Thanks in advance!!

Looks like there is some availability of devices.

I noticed that. I guess part of my reason for looking at self build is to do 2-3 of them. Then use current sensors more closely paired to the actual breaker amps. I have a bunch of lighting circuits with led lights, breaker at 15 amps usage is probably a few amps… So a 14A clamp is better suited.

Knock yourself out. IMO none of the cheap low capacity CTs out there can compare with an AccuCT 50A. I’ve got a shelf full of CTs collected and tested over the years. AccuCTs are 0.5% and work well even below their stated working range.

Below are simultaneous current readings from a gang of three light bulbs. Two are LED and one is incandescent. Above is the IoTaWatt Amps reading for Input_5. Below it is a shot of a certified bench DDM measuring the Same circuit.


Good to hear there is only about 2 watts of difference.

Like I said initially I don’t claim to have a huge about of experience with this, so I appreciate and welcome feedback.

Everyone starting out worries about accuracy way more than is generally necessary for most use cases. Think about what you are going to do with the data you collect. What decisions do you hope to be able to make? What behaviors are you going to be willing to make to save how much money? What and how much data do you really need to make those decisions and behavior changes?

Decades ago I was part of one of the first electrical utility residential demand side load management projects in the US. I remember we’ll the early Sunday morning I went in and looked at the first numbers coming in. There were 4 houses connected and streaming data. Three of them were each using about 1-2KW each. The last one was around 6KW. That is “living large”.

Back then you had to be part of a pilot program and even then you didn’t get realtime access to even just whole house utilization data.

I remember when I got my own first system, which got me whole house plus 4 additional channels. It told me my electric water heater was the biggest user, which I was pretty sure was the case without the meter. I did learn my heated floor was also a big user as is the fan in my furnace. It took me a decade to finally get a new blower motor. I still haven’t done anything about the heated floor, since I really like it.

Depending on how much time you want to put into it, making your own is fine. But, I wouldn’t recommend it as a first project. I still have a tube of power measurement ICs that I was planning on using to make multiple energy meters. I bought them 10-15 years ago. I always have a list of too many projects I could be doing, so I have to really want to do it myself if I can find a decent enough off-the-shelf solution. Iotawatt is not cheap, but unless you value your time at $0/hour, doing it yourself is not cheap either.

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I want to be able to essentially sub meter different sections of the building for tenants. Unfortunately that means breaker level metering because one tenant may be in half of the warehouse, another in a different section. Not looking to change my behaviors.

I was just looking at the old average bill, and charged the first tenant for the energy increase. Which is not ideal.

This also means I am monitoring over 30 breakers on 2 or three panels, and three phase 240vac 60hz.