Google Unveils API To PowerMeter

Google’s tentacles continue to wrap around every portion of our lives with the addition of an API for their PowerMeter software. The PowerMeter tool works with smart electricity meters to monitor and display power usage in the home. This will allow manufacturers (and hackers alike) to design new devices with the Google interface in mind.

We’ve got an old-fashioned power meter with a spinning dial and no blinking LED. This means we can’t monitor that blink to add our own PowerMeter interface. But if you do have an easy way to grab data from your meter you can design a home system that takes full advantage of Google’s tools.

Ok, who’s going to be the first to have their Google PowerMeter-compatible hack featured on Hackaday?

[Thanks Juan]

32 thoughts on “Google Unveils API To PowerMeter

  1. there’s nothing i hate more than the digital power meter on my house. granted an analog one could be built to skew data as well, but a digital one so much more and so much more invisibly.
    getting billed based off something that could have firmware bugs or have been tampered with bugs me.
    sure it’s paranoid but it is a reasonable concern.

    monitoring it for my own enjoyment would be cool though

  2. Ill be working on getting the Brultech ECM-1240 Python app compatible with the PowerMeter API as soon as possible.

    They had eluded to releasing this API a few months back, and its great to see it’s finally up!

  3. I’m trying to design a system for my school at the moment, continually hit by stumbling blocks – a simple energy monitoring solutions for locations with huge energy use (ours in £80000 per year) just don’t exist. Hopefully this will make anything we do come up with somewhat more manageable.

  4. moridin, it doesn’t look as complicated as you think. I just “activated” a non-existant device by going to a specially crafted url like this:
    After signing into my google account, I got all of the necessary key codes I would need to have my custom device send data to google, including an AuthSub security token my device would send as an HTTP header. As long as the device sends data using the right keys, the data is viewable by me. So any curl cron job could send data.
    Disclaimer: I could be wicked wrong, so YMMV.

  5. I put together a system that uses a reflective opto-switch (like: to read our old-fashioned spinning disc electricity meter. The photodiode feeds an ATMEGA on an analogue channel, with the software performing filtering and a degree of auto-calibration. The measured period is transmitted via a CC1100-based RF link to a Linux box where the instantaneous power is calculated and logged using some PERL and Cacti/rrdtool. It has been running for about 18 months now and has proved useful. I’ll write it up if there is some interest.

  6. the old gas/electro-meters use these mechanical rotary displays — aren’t these perfectly sized to watch the last digit (usually comes with additional 1/10th markers) with the sensor of an optical mouse?
    has anyone tried this already?

  7. This is scary. Soon our “progressive” government will have the ability to monitor your power usage and tax you more the more you use. Redistribution of everything Comrades!

  8. Drone, are you kidding? The government already knows what you use. Look at your utility bill. There is a tax already based on what you use. This technology is not necessary for them to know how much you use.

  9. I would love to see hacks which recreate devices like this one:

    I love that setup. With a few Xbee modems, you could duplicate the MTU separation, which makes the product very flexible. (My utility box is four stories away from an ethernet jack.)

    An optical pickup on an oldschool meter would be great for apartment dwellers.

  10. Google would be the very last I’d get involved with my powermeter.
    And I question hackaday’s willingness to push this crap.

    Next: Report a jew api, report all jews in your area for a google maps of jews.

    Brave new world.

  11. google only monitors electricity – what about gas/oil/etc?

    google’s protocol requires the use of SSL. measuring electricity and gas use here in the uk is relativly trivial, with electricity meters flashing an led 800 times per KWHr, and gas meters having a white dial with a red pointer gong round in proportion to yer gas use.

    simple, you think – a couple of optical sensors, a few calculations, a simple web page – Arduino with an ethernet shield and a bunch of code and job done… except…

    you’re going to need a lot more horsepower to drive the encryption than everything else put together. you could festoon your house with temperature sensors, automatic window openers, humidity sensors, and all the wonderful stuff hackaday is famous for, and *still* drive it with an arduino-class microcontroller, if it weren’t for the SSL requirement.

    I’m not going to use a pc just to add encryption (my nslug and bifferboard are gradually being nicked by my kids), i want to include all my energy usage, not just that which is convenient to googlescam, and can think of simpler and better ways of doing this without their “help”.

    Is this really the best they can do?

  12. Energy is money, and world’s most needed good second only to information.

    Thinking about the reasons why Google should invest significant money monitoring power usage (in a *secure* way), I see a future where you can park your electric car in front of my house, and recharge it from my garden’s plug.

    Google keeps the bills through its huge servers, and refunds me for the energy you used transferring money from your Google account to mine (earning a small sum in the process).

    Too visionary?

  13. nutchip – I understand where you’re coming from, but that’s a very first-world perspective.

    many would argue that food, water, shelter, and the simple right to *be* would trump energy (beyond simple open fires) and information any day.

    In the uk they’re talking about moving to universal smart meters for everyone and everything. sounds great, eh? Have an account with all suppliers and get your meter to change your supplier on the fly to get the best deal?
    let you charge your leccy car in my drive and charge it to your account? outstanding!

    Dream on, baby. we’re going to get the same dismal system they’re moving towards in California, where “smart” means they can switch off your appliances remotely because they can’t meet their obligations. you get to pick your supplier, then you’re stuck with them for the length of the contract. Ran up your bill charging my car? arm wrestle me for it – ain’t nothing they’re interested in…

    to any sentient being, you’re right, and they’re wrong, but the big gotcha is who gets to write the legislation.

  14. @Aaron, why not? you can’t tell if it’s correct or not. i suppose you could stick a clamp on ammeter to the line in and log that to compare, but the point is there’s more ways for a digital embedded system to mess with the numbers than a plain rotary dial system.
    nobody would be able to tell because nobody is actually paranoid enough to monitor the monitor. (i’m not either lol, i just like complaining)

  15. I’m currently working on using a cheap webcam to do simple OCR on the digits of a analog meter.
    Solves the problem of missing a blink of the led. Once the algorithm works, the next step is to reduce it to an embedded version.

  16. I’m working on an advanced power monitoring system, perhaps I could integrate google power meter support in a few months. Currently we are logging power data to a local database and dislaying it via amcharts.

  17. I have been working on home automation items for awhile and have bare bones internet functions. Trouble is the specs read like it has to be a standalone device that can do SSL/TLS which is rather a heavy thing to do. It pretty much (please let me know if I am wrong) means you have to do it on something like ARM, at least without expensive external hardware. (There is one SSL socket chip out there I found).

    A more sane scheme for a low cost device would be to have a home controller, say an Atom based computer running Linux, and everything else just be data collection.

    They want about 250 dollars as I recall for a commercial device. You could easily have an atom system for 120 working, plus say 20 dollars a sensor tops…

    But I don’t think the Google API/Specs let it be done this way.

  18. @Bacchus

    I agree. SSL for this means waste and a lot of extra cost.

    As a hobbies there is no reason I would want to give google this info, if I do build a device for this it would be to sell it to some fools who like google.

  19. To all moaning about ssl, yes I agree.
    However, I solved it by writing the Google API in php on my hosted webserver, then my homemade meter only has to do a simple HTTP GET to my webserver and the PHP contacts google with SSL.
    No extra server at my house, no ssl overhead on my meter.
    As for reading digits, use an old Optical mouse sensor to grab a tiny image of the last two digits, send them over to your webserver where an open OCR library converts it to a number, and again, uploads to google.

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