Cambridgeshire firm designs ‘smarter’ smart meter

A UK engineering consultancy has developed a new type of smart meter that breaks down energy by appliance type, giving users better tools to reduce their overall use.

Smart meter

Known as Triple Ohm, the patented technology is the work of 42 Technology, a multidisciplinary firm headquartered in St Ives, near Cambridge. According to the company, Triple Ohm works by monitoring changes in the high frequency current or voltage harmonics of a power supply when specific appliances are used.

As different appliances have different energy signatures, by using data analytics and proprietary algorithms, the technology is able to calculate energy consumption per device. This information can be delivered in real time via a smartphone app or included as a summary in household bills.

“42 Technology has recently been awarded an Innovate UK Energy Catalyst 4 grant to help us demonstrate the feasibility of using Triple Ohm technology to identify different appliance types and to separate out their demands from a single metering point,” said Jeremy Carey, managing director of 42 Technology.

“We have already built a number of demonstration units, several team members have had them installed in their homes as part of a field trial, and we are starting to collect real usage data to show to potential development partners.”

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The UK government is currently in the midst of an £11bn smart meter rollout, but doubts have been raised as to the efficacy of the project. Most smart meters being deployed can only inform customers on their overall use levels, without providing a breakdown of appliance use or recommending where energy can be saved. 42 Technology says that when consumers are presented with more detail on their energy habits, studies have shown that domestic consumption falls by an average of 12 per cent.

As well as providing an appliance breakdown, Triple Ohm can also identify how individual appliances are operating under load, potentially highlighting performance issues. According to 42 Technology, initial studies have shown the technology can differentiate between a vacuum cleaner with a full or empty bag. This type of analysis could be developed into a tool to alert customers when appliances require servicing.