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
But 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!).
Damn, 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.