Five Percent: Conserve Energy

Climate Change Is Important: Energy Conservation is the First Step

August 21, 2009

TED 5000 (The Energy Detective): Released, and I Have One

Category: Household,Save Electricity,Technology – Tom Harrison – 2:56 pm

TED 5000 in my Hot Little Hand

TED 5000 in my Hot Little Hand

A while back, I wrote about the new “The Energy Detective” (a.k.a TED 5000), which had been announced. Well, it appears to exist now, confirmed by the presence of one in my hot little hands (tee hee).

I am waiting for a good time to turn off the power so I can install the little doohickey that makes it work. But there’s a lot more information about what it does available now. Here’s my summary.

First, TED is a home energy monitor, kind of an electricity meter on steroids. It can tell you how much electricity you’re using at the moment. The TED 1000 series did that, and is very similar in function to my PowerCost Monitor from Blue Line (same one as now sold on the Black and Decker label).

Knowing how much electricity you’re using at the moment is incredibly instructive, and has saved us hundreds of dollars in electricity by helping us identify and change a few things … and to keep us honest. I caught my wife using the dehumidifier in the basement last week, for example.

The TED 5000 gives you another feature, potentially more interesting than the real-time monitor, because TED 5000 remembers. It stores momentary data, but keeps hold of enough samples of that to roll up to usage by second, minute, hour, and month. TED now has a web-based version of their Footprints software that you can call up from any computer accessible on your home network in your web browser (yay, no software to install!)

The earlier version of TED had software, but only connected via USB cable, and reports from those in the know were that it wasn’t very useful. The new software looks intriguing, even having the ability to identify certain high-load devices (dryer? electric water heater?) and identifying them discretely from other electricity users.

The new TED 5000 is a different and much smarter device, under the hood. For one, it hooks right in to your computer network. Most likely, you have a router (maybe a wireless one) that’s hooked to your DSL or cable modem. Most (if not all) wireless routers also have a few plugs for good old Ethernet network cables, and so does TED 5000.

And TED 5000 cleverly communicates from it’s electrical box part (the MTU) to it’s router-connected part (the Gateway) without wires. You don’t need to care about how, other than this means you can have your router wherever you want.

TED 5000 API: XML, Zigbee and Other Nerd-Oriented Stuff

propeller-hatBut if you do care, the wireless protocol is Zigbee. It’s a new standard being used for all sorts of energy devices, and it’s an open standard.

This suggests some rather interesting possibilities for incorporating energy usage from other devices (like my gas meter???) into the whole TED 5000 and/or Footprints software. Sorry, I am being super-duper geeky. I’ll touch the top of my hat to stop the propeller from spinning and get back to humanity. In a minute…

Also interesting is that TED 5000 exposes a computer-readable version of the same data (it’s XML via HTTP for you geek readers). If I wanted to get a little crazy, I could write a little computer program that made a request to my TED, every minute or so, and kept track of the momentary data in a real database. So I think I can write to the TED database using Zigbee (I suppose I would need to know the actual data API, but how hard could that be to reverse engineer?), and read using HTTP and XML, which is published.

And I think I can open a port on my router so that my web server for this site can run that program and ask my TED to spill it’s info, meaning I can publish my data on the web, and what the hey, push it right into Google PowerMeter. This means I have complete control (moo, ha ha), and world domination is possible (mwah ha ha!).

tinfoil-hatDamn, there it goes again. My propeller-hat is spinning madly.

Maybe I need to exchange it for my tinfoil hat, um, given that by opening a port on my router, I open a security hole … unless I restrict to the IP address of my remote server. Maybe the tinfoil hat wasn’t such a good idea. How about a business hat, perhaps a fedora?

TED 5000 Pricing and Availability

One rather surprising thing: the $199 list price TED 5000 comes with everything you need to set up a standard household, including the network gateway bit and software. But you have to pay an extra $40 to get the display. So this is not exactly a cheap product, given that you can get the TED 1001 with a display for $120, if you know where to find it. But as I said, my experience with my current monitor is any indication, having this display can save you a great deal of money. And the new display is wireless and sits in a battery charger, so you can carry it around and see what happens when you turn on your computer, or stereo, or air conditioner.

Oh, and unless you have a friend who knows a guy who is friends with Joey, you might not be able to get your TED 5000 for a little while longer (or “coming soon” as their web site has said now for months on end). But all sorts of cool information is up on their web site now to give you a taste.

I just need a few minutes to turn off the power, and then … world domination! No, wait, energy data. Whatever.


  1. Customer support at TED *SUCKS* worse than anything I’ve ever experienced before – even worse than any cell phone provider I’ve had!

    Emails to any/all published addresses go unanswered, even after numerous ‘bumps’.

    Telephone calls/voice mails go unanswered/unresponded to for ever – I have yet to get one responded to.

    Stay far away from this bulls*t company since they (apparently) can’t appreciate their customers so far as even *responding* to them in any of the channels they provide for customers to contact them by.

    Stay away! Spend your money elsewhere. I’ve been trying to get a response from them for *MONTHS* to no avail.

    Both of my MTUs seem to have failed and I’m looking for information on what else to try to get them to respond and/or get them RMA’d. F’n BS company.

    Comment by smoky — January 1, 2010 @ 10:13 pm

  2. I should add that my two MTUs worked well for about 30 days, then they went t*ts-up.

    Comment by smoky — January 1, 2010 @ 10:15 pm

  3. Hi Tom & All! I’ve been having the same problems finding stock for it too! I’ve come across some stores online like Energy Circle, but I also found the TED 5000 smart meter for pre-order as well. I heard it had something to do with something at the plant. Does anyone have any updates?

    Comment by King — January 18, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

  4. Well, it looks like there may be some good news/bad news on this. For one Energy Inc. who makes the TED has received a round of funding, from all places, 3M (you know, Post-Its, tape — that 3M. Which is weird. But at least it suggests that they have money, and perhaps a little clout to get their products manufactured. Fingers crossed. It’s really a pretty good product in many ways (if not all) — I hope they get their act together soon.

    Comment by Tom Harrison — January 22, 2010 @ 8:02 pm

  5. TED sucks! The installation took 3 1/2 hours…

    Comment by SLO — August 11, 2010 @ 3:48 pm

  6. @SLO — well, you’re one of the lucky ones who managed to get it installed at all. I have worked with people who installed a separate circuit and receptacle just for the TED gateway, and still found it was affected by PLC noise, X10 or who knows what else. So as it happens, I work for a company that resells this product, or should I say “has resold it”. No more.

    My opinion of the TED, which started as “guarded” has been downgraded since my less-than-one-year-old unit just stopped working on August 5th. And also after sucking up return after return after return for defective hardware. Grrrr.

    Comment by Tom Harrison — August 11, 2010 @ 8:17 pm

  7. In fairness to TED, and especially the support team there, I was able to get my TED 5000 working again by unscrewing the back and resetting a board that had shaken loose. I had grown to like having TED around, and the other 12 energy monitors I have just aren’t quite the same ;-)

    Comment by Tom Harrison — August 12, 2010 @ 12:46 pm

  8. […] was before we got our first electricity monitor, the BlueLine PowerCost Monitor.  Then I got a TED 5000 about a year ago when it first became available.  I was amongst the first public users of Google […]

    Pingback by Energy Monitoring: It’s Not a Passive Thing | Tom Harrison Jr — September 13, 2010 @ 2:32 pm

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