Please help with new setup

I apologize for this seemingly lazy post. I have been searching the internet for 2 days and this forum and i’m not 100% sure what to do with a new setup.

I currently have a bundle in my cart for the US bundle, with 12 additional 50a thingys. However, I cannot for the life of me figure out what to do with the AC Reference transformer. When I do some searching online, I can see that other companies use the breakers for reference, but this one looks like a power plug. Over by my breaker box, I only have 1 plug and it runs my internet and my sprinkler system. Not to mention, I believe I need to monitor 240 and 120v circuits.

So, I am sorry for the question if it is too noob, but I do need some help.

I would start by reviewing the info here: http://docs.iotawatt.com/en/master/

The creator of the device did a great job of documenting and answering many questions about the device. There is also a good community to assist when asked.

Thank you so much for the reply. I did read that document, but I am not sure what the importance is of measuring voltage in regard to surge protectors or battery backups. Right now I have a battery backup over there. Can it measure voltage through a surge protector or a battery backup?

I just don’t know anything at all about electrical stuff so I didn’t fully understand the 240v part. I guess I just plug my reference piece into a plug that does 120v and then I clip two of these CT things onto both wires of the 240v circuit and “click the reverse box” in the setup so that it comes out as 240v and not 0 or something. It is super weird, but I guess clicking a reverse box isn’t the hardest thing to do.

It’s a reasonable question. All real power monitors need an AC reference. Some do have you connect directly to a breaker. IoTaWatt uses an external wall transformer for two reasons:

  1. Safety certification is much simpler when not connected to line voltage.

  2. IoTaWatt can be used with virtually any voltage, worldwide, simply by using an appropriate AC reference transformer. It is in use in more than 40 countries on four continents.

With 120V and 240V (split-phase), you only need one 120V AC transformer. You can use a power strip to accommodate all of these things from the single plug. None of them draw appreciable current.

Fantastic. I assumed all of this based on my reading and YouTube videos. I just wanted to make absolute sure I knew what the heck I was doing before buying it.

I’m loving the design and implementation of this product so far. I am looking forward to testing it out soon. I don’t think I would have tackled installing a breaker on my own, and all the electricians wanted $200 to do that. Having this reference voltage meter running from my wall is waaay more up my alley. :slight_smile:

You don’t say what you want to accomplish with power monitoring. There’s nothing wrong with not understanding how it all works, but IoTaWatt is a pretty powerful tool and so cannot avoid being more complicated than some more consumer oriented energy monitors. It sells well to technical users and energy professionals. Maybe a simpler consumer device would be adequate for your needs. I would rather you be successful.

Well, I am working to accomplish 1 goal with multiple necessary variables. That goal being to find the power hogs in my home and find a way to lower their usage.

My electric bill is like $600 per month. We try to be diligent, but it doesn’t go down. I want to monitor as many of my breakers as possible to quickly narrow down the problem. My primary issue is that most other devices that I found require the install of a breaker and then can only monitor the entire panel and not individual circuits.

I was drawn to IoTaWatt because it plugged into a wall socket for reference voltage and can run 120v and 240v simultaneously. I very much love to DIY but I stay away from electrical and plumbing. The documentation didn’t specify anything about surge protectors and I don’t have any other way to provide the reference voltage without switching to just a direct extension cord.

My only real issue was that I didn’t know if the reference voltage would change if not directly connected to a socket. Does this sound like I am choosing the right product? I originally was going to go with smart power plugs but I have a large home and 4 kids, so it was significantly more than $300 to get a lot of those plugs.

Hi friend!

I recently purchased the IoTaWatt in the past few days and so far I am loving the fact that I can monitor individual circuits with certainty in regards to their individual consumption values (e.g. how much the AC uses, how much the water heater uses, etc).

Before I decided on getting the IoTaWatt I was considering getting the Sense or Smappee, but they use proprietary machine learning algorithms that kind of guess at what device is being used at any time, and there is a high level of uncertainty associated with that. Additionally, they are in control of your data for the most part. I like that I can use IoTaWatt’s native reporting as well as forward the data to one of a few other options (I am using influxDB and reporting on it using Grafana).

Before you choose a product, I suggest maybe watching a bunch of youtube videos regarding safety for working in electrical distribution panels, and you might become more comfortable working in there. I highly recommend the IoTaWatt based on my (limited but happy) experience thus far and it would be great if you can enjoy it too!

Keep in mind that if you have a way to turn off the power (e.g. main breaker at the top of the panel, or breaker at the meter location), the distribution panel where you need to install the CTs will be de-energized so you can work there safely. I also highly recommend that if you don’t have one already, get a multi-meter so you can verify the voltage is reading 0 before you work in the panel.

Good luck in your choice!

Thank you. I like your suggestions a lot. I absolutely watched a ton of videos. I was originally looking at Sense, because they won’t shut up with their ads on Facebook. I have done minor electrical work, but my main concerns is that anything bigger, even if I install it and it works, it may mess up later because I didn’t do it perfectly. That’s why I don’t mess with electrical or plumbing on anything bigger than replacing small parts in the system.

As I was searching, I found a subreddit where someone suggested IoTaWatt. I did all my research on that, read through the documentation, and actually read their entire website trying to find the answer to my question about surge protectors and battery backups. I figure the battery backup sends its own 120v connection, and all I need is a 120v reference, but I needed to make sure before spending the money. Especially because I couldn’t find anything on their site about a return policy.

I like the idea of looking for a breaker at the meter. That was the scariest part for me. I ran into an infograph that specifically had huge warnings “Don’t touch these”. That’s the point that I decided to not install my own breaker, having 0 clue what I was doing to start. If I can find a way to shut it off before the panel, that would make me feel much safer in messing around in there with the IoTaWatt.

I’ve had a similar experience, I heard about IoTaWatt initially from multiple replies to posts on Reddit. Then I was looking at the Sense on Amazon and someone mentioned IoTaWatt in the reviews there too!

I thought to myself, I’m hearing about this device a lot, I should look into it. I’m glad I did. The support here and community here is also quite commendable.

Maybe post some pics of your setup and users here can help provide some guidance? My scenario is that I’ve got a breaker by my electric company meter which controls the connection to my subpanel in the garage (where I’ve got the IoTaWatt installed). If you’re not planning to measure circuits in the same panel as your electric company meter, perhaps you’ve got a similar breaker that you can turn off?

Surge suppressor is probably ok, but “battery backups” could be a problem. Using an extension from another outlet shouldn’t be a problem as long as you only connect the AC reference and USB power supply to it, there should be no significant voltage drop.

Consider the extra couple $ for the 25mm clamps for the mains as they are easier and safer to install. Also consider having an electrician or someone who fancies themselves an electrician to install the CTs.

This is the kind of question I’d like answered. Doesn’t this simply involve unscrewing the 5 or 6 screws around the panel cover, and then clamping them on? Aside from punching holes for cables to run out, and mounting the hardware, don’t these things open and clamp around the power cables?

Except for the word simply, the answer is yes.

Most of them do. There are solid core CTs available in the stuff site that are more complicated to install. I recommend the clamps because it’s usually not practical to shut off power to the mains, so the operation needs to be done “hot”. The clamps usually make that much easier. Many panels have exposed conductors and there is a real shock hazard for a good 240V wallop. I know it’s impractical to hire an electrician for what appears to be a straightforward installation, but this is not the place for trial and error. I don’t provide advice for avoiding the hazards inside the panel or complying with local codes, except to advise that you have a local electrician or other experienced individual install the CTs.

Thank you. As said previously, I super appreciate the help, and fully understand your references to the hazards that may present during the setup. I’ll go ahead and bite the proverbial bullet here and i’ll let everyone know if I have any issues.