Energy and Power Metering: Solutions and Additional Benefits

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In my first post, I talked about energy regulations and sub-metering. The EU’s energy efficiency directive and the California Energy Commission’s Title 24 point to a future in which electrical metering and load measurement will be much wider than is the case today. Metering will be more granular, possibly at the level of individual plugs, and extended to valuable measurements such as power factor, voltage and power demand.

What’s more, it’s not just new buildings that will have to adhere to these standards. Older ones are also likely to be required to meet these regulations, perhaps when electrical service retrofits or upgrades are done.

Ok, that’s the situation. So, what is the answer?

Well, the regulations define what the solution should look like, partially fulfilling the old management command to bring not only problems but also solutions. For instance, Title 24 lists minimum requirements for electrical metering. At all service levels, meters have to provide electrical demand at every instant of time. Historical peak demand is required of services rated 250 kVA or above. Services rated more than 1000 kVA also have to produce information on kWh per rate period.

For commercial buildings, sub-metering also implies that

  1. Devices be easily embedded within an energy management system, and
  2. That they monitor power at key distribution points in a system or be located on critical equipment.

Today there are high density metering (HDM) packages or power meters complying with IEC 61557-12 that can meet both of these requirements. See related post.

Furthermore, these metering systems have greater communication capabilities. So they can integrate information from multiple energy sources, like water, air, gas and steam. They may also have optional network features that allow alarming on critical conditions or the carrying out of power quality analysis.

Another set of benefits arise because the regulations require meters to be accurate, precise and reliable. This means that the data produced will be of higher quality than was the case in the past. So, analysis of energy consumption at the whole building down to the sub-tenant level will be better, proof yet again of the truth of that old computer science saying about garbage in, garbage out – or, in this case, better data in, better results out.

However, these advanced and more capable meters are not enough. Any solution also has to include software systems to manage the devices. One reason to do so is that adding meters that produce more data more often makes it cost-prohibitive to collect the information manually. The old approach of having someone walk around with a clipboard and write down numbers just becomes too expensive. On top of that, the manual approach is a recipe for data entry mistakes to be made, either on initial collection or subsequent transcription into the building management system (BMS).

So, there are regulation-driven changes coming to metering. More data will be collected, with sub-metering a reality. The benefits can include improved energy efficiency, as well as greater insight into the energy aspects of building management. But, any solution needs the network capabilities and services to fully support the new meters.

For an example of such solutions and meters, look here.

If you are looking for more details, you can check out the following documents:

Theme Type Link
IEC 61557-12 White paper Guide to using IEC 61557-12 standard to simplify the setup of an energy measurement plan.
Measurement applications White paper Guide to energy measurement applications and standards

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