In the future, when the smart grid is finally here, every home will have a smart meter. But the future is a long ways off, so there is no sense in waiting. Energy, Inc., the manufacturers of The Energy Detective and the TED 5000 announced on Tuesday, June 30th that the TED 5000 was ready to order. Well, my TED 5000 came by FedEx today and I had it installed and running in around an hour. While I have only had it a few hours, I am very impressed. While I have already covered the TED 5000 once in my post announcing its release date and some off its features, this will be an overview of some of the first things that have caught my attention.
The TED 5000 installs much the same way that the TED 1000 does. I really dont want to cover installation that much because if done wrong, it can be dangerous. While I'm not an electrician, I do have a decent amount of knowledge around electrical equipment, so I felt comfortable installing it. The biggest thing is to ensure the main breaker is turned off so no electricity is in the panel. But please don't take this blog post as installation instruction. There are good installation instructions, getting started guide, and instruction manual that comes with the unit, but if you aren't that comfortable around electrical equipment call an electrician. If the electrician is competent he will be done in under 30 minutes as it is not hard at all for someone who knows what they are doing.
I purchased the TED 5000-C, which is the model that comes with the Display Unit. You can purchase the TED 5000-G which does not come with a display unit and you would just access the data through your computer. I think the display unit is very cool, so I paid the extra $40 bucks and got it. The total amount I paid was $239.95 before taxes and shipping. When I opened the TED 5000 there were three smaller packages containing:
- MTU - this comes with the current transformers (CTs) and wires and installs in your breaker panel. It sends data to the...
- Gateway - This is plugged in an electrical outlet by your computer. It receives signals from the MTU over your home's wiring. It then sends data over an Ethernet cable to your router or directly to a computer. It can also send data wirelessly (ZigBee) to the ....
- Display unit - This is an option but I highly recommend it. It plugs into the wall for power but gets its data from the Gateway over a wireless connection. It looks like a big silver Ipod video.
Aside from separating the Gateway and the Display unit, the biggest change with the TED 5000 is the Footprints Software. They have done an amazing job with this. Unlike the TED 1000, which sold the software as separate and came on a disc, the TED 5000 includes the software in the price, but the software is retrieved directly from the Gateway, meaning there is no installation necessary. You simply have to type "ted5000" in the internet address bar to access the software after the Gateway is connecting to your network. (see screen shot of software on my computer at the end of the post)
Initial configuration is all done through a set-up wizard. I did notice one error in the "Quick Start Guide" when setting up the software. The guide instructs you to start from the "Setup Menu", but they must have made a revision, because there is no "Setup Menu". You have to go to "Edit --> System Wizard Setting". From there it is very straightforward.
The guide highly recommends plugging the Ethernet cable that comes out of the Gateway into a router, and not directly into a computer. I would also recommend this because it makes things much simpler. The beauty of having the software reside on the Gateway is that as long as the Gateway is connected to your home router, you will be access the data from any computer on your home network! I had to do this because my laptop is wireless and I use a VPN to get on my work network. When I tried to access the TED 5000 software while on the VPN, I had trouble connecting. When I booted up the desktop, which is not wireless, I was able to access the software right away. This is the beauty of having the software reside on the Gateway and connecting the Gateway to the router!
Energy, Inc. has definitely beefed up the footprints software and it is much more intuitive and helpful. There are many, many features. The biggest of which is that you can EXPORT THE DATA! If you recall, this is why I returned my TED 1000 unit. The Gateway unit has internal memory that stores the data (up to 90 days of hourly data, 24 months of daily data, and 10 years of monthly data). The TED 1000 had no internal memory so it had no way to store and export the data unless you used your computer for that function. Since the Gateway has internal memory it can store data when your computer is off. This is great for seeing how your house uses energy while you sleep or when you are on vacation.
Exporting the data is vey simple and the data is exported in a .CSV format so you can easily view it in Excel.
Finally, another great feature is that the Footprints software has a widget that displays your local weather. All you have to do is tell it your zip code. Now, my only suggestion for Energy, Inc. is that they store the average temperatures and export those values with the energy data. This way, you can see how the local weather is affecting your energy consumption and track those changes over the season.
Overall, the TED 5000 has been greatly improved and is one of the best tools I can think of to get control over your electricity consumption. Much more to come in the following weeks!
***Update - 8/18/09 - The TED 5000 iPhone app has been released and is available in the app store. Check out my review here: TED 5000 iPhone app
***Update - 9/13/09 - See what kind of stuff you can do with the TED 5000 data once you have it installed in my latest blog on outside temperature impacts on energy consumption.
***Update - 10/07/09 - Several comments have noted you can't purchase the TED 5000 from Energy, Inc.'s website, but that has now changed and they do list them for sale and purchase online at the TED 5000 store. Click here to buy a TED 5000.
The below update is no longer viable since Google has shut down PowerMeter.
***Update 10/6/09 - Google has announced they are working with the TED 5000 as a device partner for their Google Power Meter software. Follow the link above to learn about it and to update your firmware. This is pretty big news and will no doubt send sales of the TED 5000 through the roof! I spoke with TED customer service and they said that if you already own a TED 5000, the Google Power Meter software update will be on their site on Friday, 10/9/09. If you don't already own a TED 5000 but buy a new one, the new unit will ship with the Google Power Meter software. I'm looking forward to seeing if the Google Power Meter software will have many advantages over their Footprints software!