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Re: New Fridge - setting up monitoring

"mike" <spamme0@xxxxxx> wrote in message
> Robert Green wrote:
>> I am a home automation enthusiast.
> sounds like an understatement.

Nah, there are people who have systems that astound me.  They log everything
that happens - from all details of the weather to the daily consumption of
water, gas, electricity, etc.  One gent in California had a solar heating
and power system that even opened and closed casement windows automatically
according to the weather conditions.

> I'd like to hear more about the monitoring system
> as a whole.

Not if you want to do it on the cheap.  In the search for a "magic bullet"
I've bought a lot of bullets and very few of them were magical except in the
holes they put in my VISA balance.

The Kill-o-Watt provides a visual indicator and a reference but I do
datalogging with old Radio Shack PC-interface meters and old, low power
consumption laptops like a Dell Crapitude with broken hinge running a very
old version of the Ratshack recording software (actually developed by a
company called Metex).

The laptop is hooked up in the basement just below the fridge with a 30' ft.
serial cable I used to use Fastwire and LapLink with (before LANs were
reasonably priced). Real time monitoring is done through a power strip that
has the conductors separated and a home-brew "current sensor"  (a few turns
of wire wrapped around one of the conductors) running into a CPU-XA that can
send alarms or take actions based on preset analog values.

Calibration of that was done using a strip of 8 porcelain lamp sockets and
combinations of 25, 40, 60 and 100 watt bulbs so I could simulate the draw
of various wattages.  The Kill-O-Watt is very useful for knowing the exact
number but basically I will set the new fridge up by making sure that the
starting up current draw won't trip the alarm, but eight 100 watt light
bulbs do.  (Shut up about your solenoids, "Doc" - it's my hobby!)

> I'd like to graph total electric power consumption.
> I use a Palm Pilot to count the IR pulses out of the
> power meter, but the newer palms that support bluetooth
> have the newer OS that doesn't support direct reading
> of the IR port.  So it's not wireless.

There's nothing wireless about my current setup except the Chaney fridge
thermometer.  I will be installing my own digital temperature sensors in the
freezer compartment by going in through the unused water line for the
icemaker option that I declined.

> Then I got a BlueLine wireless power meter, but that doesn't
> support logging.

I "fight" continuously with makers of home automation equipment to convince
them that data logging is an important part of home monitoring.  Well, for
me, anyway.  (-:

> I've never been able to determine the communication
> protocol or whether there's a pin inside that I can tap to log the
> data.

Ah yes, I see you've been searching for the magic bullet, too.  I've been
very disappointed by the number of proprietary protocols in devices like
wireless thermometers.  Like remote controls, there's only moderate
agreement about how things should be done.

Stuff like monitoring the fridge is really just a curiosity.  Since there
are no "blood tests" to see if a fridge is sick, I want to monitor whatever
conditions I can to see if I can determine when it's in need of cleaning or
when something's out of whack.  Someday they will come with a little LED
like on my central vac that goes from green to yellow to red as it fills up
telling you the coils need cleaning.

This newer GE is far better sealed off from dirt that the 30+ Whirlpool it's
replacing.  Anyway, I'm just curious to monitor the life cycle of the fridge
to see what is revealed.  While I am it, it seems logical to try to prevent
or at least alert me to certain modes of failure, as someone suggested, a
horn that sounds when the door's been open longer than a few minutes.

As noted in a previous message, once I have enough readings about power
usage, temperature of the backplate, internal compartments and ambient room
temperature, I am going to try placing a custom made filter over the
openings in the bottom of the unit where dusty air is likely to enter.  I am
afraid that by lowering the airflow to the compressor by filtering it I will
shorten its life or even burn it out.  The data I collect running it
filter-free will allow me to compare the two states to help decide whether
it's useful to filter or not.  As someone else pointed out, it's a lot
easier to pop an old filter out and a new one in that it is to get all the
dust off the innards once it has built up.  Since it's always moist from
condensation, dust and hair can matte up into a mighty sticky, very "uggy"
plaster on the surface of the coils, lowering their heat transfer capability

> What's a good cheap method to log total consumption...emphasis on the
> cheap...free...?

No cheap, free that  I know of, although there are suitable broken hinged
laptops and new and used PC interface meters on Ebay all the time for less
than $100 combined.  There are, I am sure, people who will be able to
suggest cheaper methods - mine is just what evolved.

Bobby G.

(crossposted in comp.home.automation and alt.home.repair)

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