What would you do if you had access to our API?

Hi everyone,

I’m a software engineer at Bulb and I’d love to get your feedback on APIs :computer:.
We could consider making some REST APIs available to members, it’s a request we’ve heard before. In order for us to prioritise this work, we need to understand the use cases and how valuable it would be for you.

So, some questions I have for you are:
1- What would you use a REST API for?
2- Why would you prefer that to using our app?
3- Why would you use our API rather than your car’s API?

Feel free to tell us as much as possible!

Thank you so much for joining this community and helping us build a better experience :blush:.

Amina.

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Thanks for finally considering creating Bulb API.
Smart meters becomes “normality” today and most of things are accessible through our mobile phones.
1 and 2. Personally I would use API to pull my usage data to display them the way I want it in my smart home environment (Home Assistant). I could create daily, weekly and monthly notifications about my usage, notifications when price and standing charge goes up (or hopefully down). Also, most importantly, save the energy by actively monitoring it and so much more (things I am not even aware of yet).
I know some of that I can get through app or whatever, but again… users could do all that the way they want it. My IHD is so basic, it is pointless using it. It is not easy to replace it and battery is weak, meaning it has to be permanently plug in to mains.
3. Even if I could get my toaster’s API, I will use it. :wink:

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The whole point of ‘Smart’ anything is connectivity.

For me that means using APIs to have access to my own data ( Usage) + Pricing signals so that I can use the tools of my choice:

Analytical tools such as dropping it into a time series database

For Control open tools such as Openhab is the software of choice.

Where ever I can I avoid proprietary hubs, apps APIs anything since they are ultimately deadends.

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It is my data and I believe I should have access to it for whatever purpose I see fit.

Examples include - linking into smart home automation dashboards and displays.
Extracting and viewing a timeseries of consumption data
Building a simple home alarm to trigger if we are using energy above a certain threshold.

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The smart meter displays are terrible for analytics, barely tells you anything. Same with the smart things app.

Put it into a BI platform and it would be beautiful.

We have solar panels so we frequently hit 0 energy usage during the day.

Instead of donating that energy to the grid, I’d much rather spin up my crypto mining rigs so it’s cost effective.

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Hello,

Thanks for looking into this. Here’s my request: I want to be able to get the raw numbers for what the Bulb app currently shows in “Energy usage - day”. I don’t have an IHD, so the Bulb app is the only way for me to see this data.

The use case is so that I can understand electricity usage in my flat. The half-hour readings are very convenient as they make it possible to experiment with turning appliances on/off to estimate their power consumption. I can’t do that with a power meter because some of the appliances (e.g. fridge, MVHR, etc.) don’t have an easily accessible power connection.

If you implement something like this, then please, please make it possible to get the data in energy units (i.e. watts or similar) - not £. Pounds make it difficult to estimate the actual energy usage because they require me to reverse engineer the calculation with the standing charge etc.

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Hi @edechamps ,

Nice to see you back on Community :wave: Thanks for your response.

Firstly, in terms of your IHD, we can register you as missing one and once we start sending these back out, let you know. Would this be of interest to you?

In terms of the data, this is a great idea and understandably would make it easier for people in the same position as you to track their usage. I will pass this feedback onto the team for you and hopefully this can happen in the near future.

Let us know if you have any more q’s.

–Daisy :bulb:

Sure, that’d be great. I think the reason why I don’t have one is because I have a SMETS1 meter that was installed by the previous provider, not Bulb.

@LeonsDev @cholek3 @abeorchard @jims9056

For anyone else reading this who does have an IHD - the SmartThings Energy control app might be of interest to you. This isn’t available to everyone as there are a number of requirements as stated below:

  • A Bulb account - this service is only available to Bulb members at the moment
  • A second generation (SMETS2) electricity meter
  • Wi-Fi
  • A Chameleon In-Home Display (IHD) that can connect to Wi-Fi
  • An iOS or Android smartphone

You can read more about what this offers here: Setting up SmartThings Energy Control (STEC) – Bulb

The notifications use case sounds great! Good idea. Also good to know the IHD isn’t useful.

Thank you for that info! We’ll look into what we can do :slight_smile:

Openhab looks very interesting! “The whole point of ‘Smart’ anything is connectivity.”, I loved that. You’re right.

Thanks for that! :slight_smile:

Yeah, APIs are an easy way for members to have access to their data. Good to hear about the alarm use case again.

Thank you! :slight_smile:

Helping crypto be greener! Excellent. It’s good to know the existing displays are terrible, I guess there’s no “one size fits all” solution in terms of dashboards.

Thank you for that! :slight_smile:

Your use case made me smile. Being able to attribute usage to specific appliances is the dream. Good to know £ data isn’t enough.

This is great, thank you! :slight_smile:

@edechamps @Aminix_at_bulb
Raw numbers (readings), standing charge and price per unit, in theory, would be enough. After that is just mathematics. Or am I missing something?

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Just an FYI that you can use the smart things API to access some bulb data if you have the integration.

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I’d love to join in and be a Beta (or even Alpha!) tester for any API for smart readings. I’m on a Liberty 100 SMETS1 (originally Eon) but it has been moved to the DCC. Economy 7 with storage heaters.

What would you use a Rest API for?
I’m learning and experimenting with data collection through Raspberry Pi setups and learning Apache Kafka.
Real time power use and pricing data is an ideal source of private data that I can store, learn, and display exactly how I want to (even if it’s mess at first!) on a DIY smart mirror or home-hub display, and use it to trigger whatever notifications and actions I want to happen.

One that I thought of is along the lines of "IF [Mobile Phone] is no longer visible on wifi network AND energy use is > X watts THEN send notification “You’ve left the house but left somthing on!”. I already have smart lights that go off when I leave and come on when I return.

Why would you prefer that to using our app?
I’m a tinkerer at heart. The App is… fine. It lets me track my direct debt, update payment info, see usage data. It does evertything it’s supposed to and for the average consumer is great.
But I’d like access to my own data so I can really dive in. And while I don’t for a moment think you’d do anything nefarious, I’d rather be able to do it locally than via a cloud.

In the future, smart meters will enable near real-time variable tarrifs instead of “night” and “day” and it would be nice to track all that in a more granular way than most consumers would want.

Heck, if you’d give me a HAN Keyset I’d have a go at building a Zigbee app from scratch just to learn how and read the meter directly because it’s fun and interesting!

What I’d like, ideally, is wattage on the highest frequency you would allow. 30 minute frequency is nice, but knowing the meter is there and broadcasting on around a 5 second interval to the IHD just makes me want to slurp up that data and start seeing what I can do with it.
On top, be able to query the current rate, next rate, switch time, day rate, night rate, standing charge. No need for VAT or £ for the actual usage, that can be calculated from the rates.

While it doesn’t apply to me, feed in from solar and feed out to electric car charger (which I understand in SMETS2 already allows for dynamic switching based on network load) on the same basis would be great.

For context, I also run a PiHole local DNS to catch ads, check the output from the ODBII on my car so I can log what my car is up to, have segregated VLans for Private, Guest, and IoT devices, and my next project (if it’s not a Zigbee energy reader :wink: ) is going to be a little Raspberry Pi cluster to learn about provisioning and service management.

My own employer in an unrelated industry (though market leaders in their space) have layed out their spec for their own customer API’s which looks very promising.

I chose Bulb because of the green energy promise and up front pricing. I’d love to add “open access to all of my own use data” to that list as well.

If this starts to go somewhere I’d love to get involved! The team at openenergymonitor . org make a nice product, and offer self-hosting, but it requires clip-on transformers to get secondary readings of energy use, and doesn’t come with any of the pricing or rate information. It seems rather redundant when that information is right there in the air around my smart meter, but I just don’t have the permission to access it.

Open platforms are the way forward, escaping from monolithic cloud providers and allowing local, secure, private control of your data, and I hope Bulb really commits and jumps on this train.
-Adam

EDIT: Speaking of playing around with Data, I see you are looking for a Data Analyst to join the team. I might have to smarten up the CV and get in touch!

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Texas customer here so probably not getting API access any time soon. If you had endpoints with bulb’s realtime cost of supply I’d use it to optimize my heating, cooling, and vehicle charging times by piping requests into Nest and Chevy. I’d also look into corelating the consumption data with utilization data (on/off) I can collect locally.

Honestly a silly use I want to know is how much does opening the front door cost. I can pull that data from the home security system and it would be fun to see if it is visible in the power data.

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Hi,
I’d love it if bulb made real time usage and tariff data available.

  1. I would like to grab data from the API to use in Home Assistant. Then if we use a variable rate tariff I could automate turning on appliances when electricity is cheaper. I can also then attribute what appliances use most electricity. I would be able to determine if something is wrong, such as being out of the house but consumption high.
  2. The bulb app only shows how much money I have spent on electricity, I would rather be able to do something with my actual usage data. Leaving it in the bulb app is a waste.
  3. My car has an API that I use, but since it runs on petrol I’m not sure it’s relevant.
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Thanks for the details and for offering to get involved!

You should totally apply for the Data Analyst position :slight_smile: Good luck!