Monitoring your appliances’ power

This is a work-in-progress because so many people have asked me about it that I decided to write up some notes early. Keep checking back for updates.

I recently posted about real-time data from your smart meter and all was good, but then thread by Robin Hawkes on Twitter caught my eye:

These devices connect to your WiFi network and allow you to switch a connected device on or off, on a schedule if you require, and also monitor power consumption. That last bit is the most important for me – knowing how much energy I’m consuming.

After researching Tasmota, an open firmware for simple home automation devices, and checking a bunch of reviews on the TP-Link Tapo P110‘s firmware, it looked like these P110s would do just what I needed – simple power monitoring for not much of an initial outlay.

LocalBytes were out of stock of both of these items when I looked, so I took the plunge and ordered one from elsewhere. Well, I ordered eight because I was feeling quite bold.

Initial setup

Trivial. Download the Android (or iOS presumably) app, plug in a device, find its wireless network and configure it to connect to your wireless network. It reboots and that’s about it.

Firmware updates can be scheduled automatically, but I don’t know whether this will switch the power off to any connected device or not. Something to check later.

Control and monitoring

The mobile app makes it quite easy to switch a device on and off, to set a schedule, and to see power consumption. But it’s a mobile app, and I want the data somewhere I can analyse it easily.

Home Assistant to the rescue! Running HA under Docker is really easy if you know Docker. I could have re-purposed one of my Raspberry Pi as I can’t get a new OpenVMS Community licence for VAX any more, but I wanted to try HA quickly to see if it fitted my needs.

Support for the P110 devices doesn’t come as standard, but there’s a community-written workaround for that. A little fiddly and not really what I’d expect, but it works.

Next steps

Oh boy, there’s a lot I want to do.

First off, I want to push the sensor data out from these devices in to an MQTT server such as Mosquitto and have Telegraf pull this data in to a time-series database so I can visualise it with Grafana.

Other things I want to do include automatically checking my Google Calendar and setting the heating to come up early when I’m doing a morning clinic, or having it come on a bit later when I’m at home that day. I want to get an inline power switch for my porch light and turn that on between dusk and sometime around midnight.

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