Wednesday, August 03, 2016

flexplan/blueline/energycloud/plotwatt update

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Not a useful error message to wake up to. And there is a typo!

This is in my browser this morning. I am trying to access my electrical energy usage from last night.

I was using Firefox, so I tried Chrome. I tried my phone on a different network. No. EnergyCloud is DOWN. Perhaps to a webmaster the message might mean something? Who knows where EnergyCloud is? It's in the cloud. But the service is down. I've tried over the last hour.

Time for an update to McMaster anyway so I wrote them a letter which is the basis of this article. Time for some reflection and assessment.

FlexPlan - The McMaster University study of Hydro One customers I agreed to participate in, funded by the Ontario government. More info about this project as part of the Ontario Smart Grid Fund and the DeGroote school of McMaster..

Blueline Innovations - based in Newfoundland, maker and seller of the PowerCost monitor and EnergyCloud. The Blueline hardware was provided and installed at no charge by a McMaster/Hydro contractor, but I could have done it myself had I bought it.

EnergyCloud - a service of Blueline Innovations that allows me to access my usage information using my browser. The raw data is the actual kW used by my house recorded every minute. The graphs I have found to be interesting and useful.

PlotWatt - a software company in Durham, NC whose product energy management software supposedly learns from my usage via EnergyCloud and makes recommendations to me by email, supposedly, after it "learns" for about a month. They are tied somehow to Blueline as a "partner". I do not pay for their "service" which has been a disappointment so far.

Hello from Client ID xxxxxx

This morning I cannot access the Blueline Innovations software with my browser. I have tried both Firefox and Chrome. With both I get an error (pic attached). I kept trying for the last hour. I do enjoy looking at the graph of my usage.

While I am talking about Blueline, the mobile ap is difficult because it keeps requiring sign in and my password is not remembered. This may be caused by my phone. When I log in, the information the app contains is really not useful. Anyway, it says that EnergyCloud has stopped when I do the login.

Plotwatt does shows my usage and trends right now but STILL shows NOTHING about my appliance usage. It's been over three months now and you said it was "learning"? The only thing I can see is the downloadable .csv file attached. This is not useful information?

I find the advertising on the Plotwatt site misleading. This is not what I have. And to a certain extent on the Blueline website. I have no appliance specific information?

Thanks to your program, I now know much more about my electricity usage. But not due to the software. The real time info graph is nice to have but I have to figure it out from there.

I hear nothing from McMaster except your direct relies to my questions. How is the program going? I see that the funding was over $1.3M.

George Plhak

This is the appliance spreadsheet I downloaded this morning from PlotWatt. Down the left side are the days of the last month and across the top are some categories that Plotwatt decided, not me. Notice the "learning" column.

This "data" does not mean much to me as relates to what I think my usage is. I certainly have other major appliances, like a water heater, that are not shown. I told the software specifically what appliances I had in the setup. It should know.

When I look at the PlotWatt website, it seems that their main focus is restaurant energy management although they do make the pitch at a utility level that having customers know more about their usage is a good idea and the idea is compelling.

So far, for me at least, the idea is not delivered on.

I'll let you know what I hear from McMaster.

Update Aug 4 - I am able now to log into EnergyCloud but there is no data. The main graph is blank.
Update Aug 5 - Excellent tech support from John at Blueline. I now have data again. They had a melt down in the Cloud or something. My Blueline sensor and bridge needed to be reset and John helped me do that. Short discussion with John. I am not supposed to get the detailed appliance data as part of the study so he says that I will not see it, even after three month of "learning". Go figure.

Thanks for your interest.
George Plhak
Lion's Head, Ontario, Canada

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