Powerpal is a small Australian device that reads the lightning bolts from your electricity meter and translates them into easy-to-interpret graphics in a mobile app that show how much mains electricity your house is importing, how much it costs and give you tips on how to reduce your electricity consumption.
Free for some Victorians
Thanks to the Victorian Government’s Energy Improvement Program, you can have a Powerpal delivered and installed for free if you live in the metropolitan area of Melbourne, Geelong and Ballarat.
Over 35,000 Victorian Powerpal devices have been installed as part of this offering.
Powerpal says they genuinely wish the self-installer could qualify for this free deal with Vic Government, as all products must be installed by an “accredited provider” under the program under the rules of the Victorian Energy Upgrades program . This is a general rule for all products available under the program, from water heaters to LED light balls.
Powerpal receives around $ 90 for each installation, which covers both product costs and professional installation. This is paid for by Victorian electricity traders, not through taxpayers’ money, as part of their commitment to improving energy efficiency in Victoria.
Buying tips for the rest of Australia
Aussies outside the Victorian Free Zone can purchase a Powerpal for $ 129 with delivery included. I have tested a Powerpal device in the NSW Ausgrid area and can report that self-installation only takes a few minutes and is very easy.
Before you buy a Powerpal, note that it only works with a smart electricity meter, not the old rotating disk meters from the last century.
Also, before buying, check that your smart meter is on the list of Powerpal compatible meters.
Unfortunately, Powerpal generally cannot be installed in apartments as the electricity meters are often in a locked cupboard in the basement that is difficult to access and far from the apartment (which makes the signal range difficult)
The small package contains the Powerpal device with a cable that sticks to your electricity meter, a pairing code, a cable for reading the light pulses from the smart meter and, if necessary, with adhesive tape, etc. As you can see from the size comparison with a coaster , the device is small.
According to Powerpal’s CEO, the cable is armored so it can be safely routed under the meter cabinet door without the risk of damage.
“The two-core signal wire is located both in a braided steel wire jacket and in a solid aluminum jacket. High quality wire cutters would be required for cutting. “
The Powerpal device uses long range and long range bluetooth to communicate with paired phones / tablets. It works from a surprisingly long distance (in my case 20 meters away). This is the farthest signal from any bluetooth device that I own.
The reason for using Bluetooth with extremely low power consumption is to extend the battery life. The CEO of Powerpal told me that the battery is expected to last 10 years.
Many people leave an old phone with a WiFi connection in their house near the external Powerpal location, so data is constantly being sent to the phone and then to the Powerpal cloud being analyzed.
How does Powerpal work?
Powerpal only measures the electricity imported from the grid by counting the light pulses emitted by your smart meter.
You can view the data Powerpal has collected by pairing it with as many phones or tablets as you want. Powerpal communicates with the nearest phone / tablet and can send power consumption data worth up to 60 days. The phone / tablet then uploads the data to the cloud, where Powerpal analyzes it and displays it in various useful ways in the app and calculates the daily / weekly usage
One user told me that they have been using Powerpal since 6/15/20 and it’s still 98% on battery power with the iPad always around and the “LED Sensitivity” slider probably set to standard or halfway / 50 % is set. That’s an impressive optimization in battery usage.
If you have installed solar modules, the Powerpal app shows zero usage for all time periods in which your modules receive enough solar energy from the sun to supply your house with electricity.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. If you have solar, ideally you want to use less electricity than what you generate with the panels on your roof.
If Powerpal states that you are importing mains electricity during the day, you can, for example, adjust the temperature of the air conditioning or turn the heating down to reduce the electricity consumption of the network / or go back to zero.
True to its claims, Powerpal really shows real-time power usage, with home power usage rising, changing and falling within a second or two of turning lights, dishwasher, dryer, heater, kettle, etc. on and off.
Something interesting I learned from Powerpal’s weekly app review is that my constant The minimum standby power is approx. 110 W around the clock. Before I had solar panels installed a few weeks ago, this meant a minimal power consumption of 2.64 kW per day. Now our house supplies solar energy in daylight. The constant minimum standby load imported from the grid is around 1.76 kW per day.
The higher that amount is from your refrigerator and other 24/7 appliances that are always on, the higher your electricity bill.
Large power guzzlers are often hidden within sight, for example: pool pumps consume huge amounts of electricity, as do old beer fridges and old plasma televisions.
My kettle consumes 2200W while on, but it is only on for a few minutes so the total power consumption is not much. A toaster is similar. So don’t be stressful about using one of them during solar or non-solar time unless you roast and boil lots of water every day.
Likewise, I thought my dishwasher and washing machine were using a lot of electricity, but they don’t use much more than 1000W per cycle as they are both less than a few years old.
My fridge is around 7 years old, but surprisingly it doesn’t use a lot of electricity either. Probably because it’s in an open corner of our kitchen with lots of open air space and not hidden in kitchen cabinets behind a door where it would be difficult to get airflow and therefore use more electricity.
In comparison, my vacuum cleaner was something I hadn’t thought of, that it was using electricity. At top speed it consumes 2000W and since it is used for 30-60 minutes the total power consumption is much higher than the kettle or toaster.
That doesn’t mean not vacuuming. Just do this if your solar panels consume a lot of electricity or if you have time to take advantage of the electricity grid tariff vacuum during shoulder price times. The same applies to power-hungry conventional heaters such as oil heaters, fan heaters, etc.
Powerpal generates great statistics and graphics
If you like pie charts, graphs, bar charts, and raw CSV data for the past 60 days, you’ve come to the right place.
The Powerpal app shows you how you live the second power consumption and costs now in the moment, as well as statistics hour by hour, day by day, week and month by month.
Is it worth getting Powerpal?
If you live in the Victorian areas where you can get Powerpal for free then definitely yes.
For the rest of Australia, it is still worth paying $ 129 for a Powerpal for most people who have a smart meter, even if you have solar panels, as the statistics produced by most solar inverters are not that useful are to change your energy consumption behavior.
I don’t know of any inverter that will tell you things to let you know what the peak times are to reduce your power, such as: E.g. your constant basic electricity consumption, on which day you consumed the most electricity last week and at what hour on the day on which you use the most electricity. Combined with the real-time usage statistics during the import times of the grid power.
Powerpal allowed Ausdroid to keep its device as its stats are tied to a specific site once set up