How to get more detailed electricity usage

I am looking into installing a solar array. My smart meter IHD will give me daily/weekly/monthly etc usage data. However, in order to work out what difference Solar might make to me I need to understand the diurnal variation of my consumption.

E.g. I would like to download hourly meter readings- is this possible anywhere?

Hi @richl

Welcome to the Bulb Community, glad to have you with us!

Unfortunately, there isn’t currently a way for us to pass on half-hourly data. Whilst we can set your smart preferences to submit half hourly readings, the signal works a bit like a phone signal, and can often be blocked. This means readings that appear on your account are unlikely to be half hourly.

We’d advise speaking to your solar array’s installer for more detailed information on the difference the panels will make. They’ll have a better idea of the effectiveness.

Great use of the word diurnal, too. That one’s going straight in my dictionary.

Hi Curtis,

Thanks for the reply. That’s a bit sad.

A whole bunch of timestamped readings at a much greater granularity would help a lot, even if there were missing readings, as long as the timestamp was present, it could be very useful to post-process it into daily curves and create my diurnal patterns :wink:

I know of other suppliers who are performing a smart analytics on the data such as profiling the various electricity consumption in the property to break down usage by washing machines, fridges, kettles etc. and they make this available to their subscriber.

What would be brilliant if the IHD would store the information to an internal file which, on connecting the USB cable to a computer would appear as a removable drive- then I could simply download every reading as e.g. a daily/weekly/monthly csv file. Clearly the IHD would need to overwrite old data when it ran out of space, but realistically, logging a reading with a unix time & datestamp every second of every day would only take around 50MB per month… or less than 1MB per month for one-minute intervals.

Are there any compatible IHDs that one could purchase that might have such functionality?

Hi @richl,

Unfortunatley, your not able to purchase an IHD and I don’t think one like that exists. However, that is a pretty amazing idea and I would personally love such a device.

Each IHD is connected to a smart meter. For example, if someone broke their IHD we would have to unconnect the old one and then reconnect the new one.

That being said, we can look into sending you your half-hourly data in a CSV? Let me know if you want this and I can speak to the smart team.

How can I switch my meter onto half-hourly readings as that would help a huge amount?
Would I see all the readings in https://account.bulb.co.uk/dashboard/usage ?
(I can successfully copy/paste the table of results from there into Excel)

Hi @richl

You can log into your account and change the smart meter preferences here: https://account.bulb.co.uk/dashboard/smart/meter-settings

Not all the data we get will be migrated onto your account, but more should start appearing.

As @Noah_at_Bulb said we can look into getting you your half-hourly data in a CSV, though.

thanks a lot- I’m going to give that a go right away! :smiley:

1 Like

Hi Richl, the smart meters aren’t really that smart enough to do what you (any many others) want to do. It may be easier to fit a separate current data logger to your mains feed. This is just a current clamp (no electrical connection) and often a little USB gizmo which then records the amount of current at whatever interval you set. Strictly it only measures current, not power flow or direction of power flow so it won’t be of any use after you fit your PV array. To get more detailed information you’d have to fit a separate power meter/logger which uses both an electrical (voltage) connection and a current clamp to work out true power flow and direction. Like you I wanted to get this data before fitting my PV array but in the end I just went ahead anyway. In practice, unless your consumption pattern is unusual it usually works out that the PV supplies about half your consumption on a decent day and very little on a dull winter day. On annual average it’s about half. It rarely goes above half in a day as usage tends to have peaks (like boiling a kettle or switching on the oven) usually when there’s a cloud over the array. And between sunset and sunrise there’s obviously negligible PV output. A battery would help but is still an expensive way to get your mains draw down to about half again. From the start I fitted a hot water immersion heater diverter which takes any excess PV power and puts it into the hot water tank. This is extremely effective. From February to October we get almost all our hot water from the PV, with the exception a a few miserable days when the boiler has to do the job. But you need a hot water tank; no use if you have a combi boiler. Happy to share my PV experiences with you if you’re interested.