Smart Metering for Challenging Scenarios: A Low-Cost, Self-Powered and Non-Intrusive IoT Device
In this work, a novel current metering device was presented. This device was intended to bring current metering capabilities to a wide variety of scenarios: Developing countries, rural areas, or any situation with technological constraints. The device was designed to provide a straightforward installation with no intrusion in the electrical panels. This was achieved by applying energy harvesting techniques and wireless communication technology for data transmission. The device was able to exploit the magnetic field inducted around a wire carrying electricity as energy harvesting, thus acquiring the power it needed to work. Since very low power was harvested, an efficient treatment for the incoming power and a minimal power consumption system were essential. Although exploiting the magnetic fields inducted around a wire has been used for years, the combination of this technology for both energy harvesting and current metering in an end-user device was off-center. To work in a wide variety of scenarios, it used Sigfox for communications as this brought wide coverage and out-of-the-box functioning. The theoretical design of the device was validated by verification assessments for the joint performance of the individual parts compounding the device, including metering capabilities and wireless communication test-bench. Finally, the metering device was tested under three distinct real-world scenarios that demonstrated the viability of the system. Results show that, depending on the metering period and the average current value in the mains line, the device could work forever acquiring and sending electricity consumption data. Perpetual working was achieved with an average current of 3.1 A to meter every 15 min, and an average current of 5 A for a 5-min metering period.