ECM-1240 Pre-Sales FAQ
How many loads can I monitor with an ECM-1240?
Although the ECM-1240 is a seven channel device, more than seven channels are typically monitored. This usually requires the addition of extra current sensors (CT) than what is included in a basic package.It is not uncommon to group several loads on to a single channel. This conserves the channel resources. Some typical examples would be to group the kitchen counter receptacles together, bedroom circuits together, etc. You can also group seasonal loads together such as "Heating" and "Air Conditioning", since only one of the two loads would be operational at a time (I would hope.). Our "CT Selection" page provides some examples.
If I group several loads on one channel, can I view each load's consumption individually?
No. The channel will display the sum of all loads. Many times it is easy to distinguish which of the combined load is running. This can also be used strategically such as having a furnace and A/C unit on the same channel. Since the furnace blower is part of the A/C system, the combined loads would represent the total "cooling system" in the summer and electrical portion of "heating" in the winter. Using the engine software, the Heating can be assigned to a given virtual channel during the winter representing "Heating" then switched to a different virtual channel in the summer to represent "Cooling".
There is a separate building detached from our house which has its own panel. What are my options for monitoring both?
The modularity of the ECM-1240 lends itself to monitoring at various points of a home. One or two ECM-1240 devices may be dedicated to monitoring a main panel and an additional ECM-1240 can monitor a remote sub panel. Can the ECM-1240 do "net" metering? Yes. If you have a grid-tied inverter from a renewable energy source such as solar or wind, the ECM-1240 can be connected to monitor the main panel and inverter (plus other loads). The resulting data obtained will be:
Does my computer need to be on all the time to monitor?
Basically, the answer is no, however it also depends on the communication option selected and the data desired. The monitor continuously measures the power consumption and make the updated data available as often as every second.
The local computer does not need to be on 24/7 if:
How many ECM-1240 devices can I have in a given installation?
The answer to this depends on how you decide to collect the data. If you use the wireless communication option and forward data to www.check-it.ca you can have dozens of devices reporting although you would need to reduce the packet send frequency. Our EngineG software is setup to accept up to six devices.
I have an apartment building and wish to measure the total consumption for each tenant. Can the ECM-1240 do this?
We do have installations doing this. Seven apartments are monitored using a single ECM-1240. Additional ECM-1240 devices may be added to monitor additional units.
If I monitor with a local computer, will I lose data if the computer is shut down?
The ECM-1240 device keeps recording the accumulated kWh as long as it is powered, therefore is independent of a computer receiving data. When the computer is re-started the Engine software updates the Kwh values. The only data that will be missing is the "load Profile" of electrical activity while the computer was off.
I want to monitor my home while I'm away for a vacation, what are my options?
The most reliable and informative option is to subscribe to a service such as www.check-it.ca.
Can the ECM-1240 measure 3-phase loads?
The ECM-1240 is designed to monitor 120V/240V split phase loads only. The only option currently available for 120V/208V 3-phase monitoring is to use three ECM-1240 devices. We expect to soon have other options available. Why can some of the low-cost energy monitors work on 3-phase systems and the ECM-1240 not? Please note that the low cost energy monitors boast measuring "electricity" which is a vague term. This term is often used to give the illusion that real energy consumption (kilowatt-hour) is measured, when in fact only current is measured and assumptions are made with regards to voltage and power factor. These low cost devices do not measure energy! They only measure current which is phase independent and provides an assumed power only. One such company admitted to using the term "kilowatt-hour" falsely! Our ECM-1240 accurately measures "true" power and kilowatt-hour energy which becomes more complex when it comes to 3-phase systems.
Why is the ECM-1240 more expensive than other monitors costing less than $100.
Other than the obvious fact that the ECM-1240 can monitor many more loads, there is a fundamental difference between these low-cost products and our ECM-1240. The information provided by these products are falsely termed kilowatt-hour or will use the vague term "electricity use". Feel free to contact the company and ask them if their monitor measures "true" power. True power is what you buy from the power company. Typically these low-cost devices provide an approximate "apparent power" which is solely based on the amount of current used. This can easily cause errors in energy readings greater than 50% depending on the type of load monitored.
Does the ECM-1240 Measure True power?.
Yes. The ECM-1240 over-samples the line voltage and load current to generate a "true" power measurement. True power is what the Electric Company charges for.
What is the accuracy of the ECM-1240?.
The ECM-1240 device is calibrated to within 1% accuracy. The CT accuracy must also be factored into the equation. Most of our CTs are accurate to within 1%. The overall accuracy is typically 2%.
Loads and Current Transformers (CTs):I have two 200A panels can I monitor them both?
Yes. This situation is becoming more common. This requires two SPLIT-200 CTs on CH1 and two more on CH2. The sum of CH1 + CH2 will represent the total consumption.
I have three 200A panels can I monitor them?
Yes. Although it is possible using one ECM-1240, it is recommended to use two ECM-1240 devices.
I have a 400A panel, can the ECM-1240 monitor it?
Absolutely. There are possibly two options. In many cases, a 400A service is split into two 200A panels. Each 200A panel may be monitored using CH1 & CH2. If the panel is a single 400A panel, we will soon have 400A and 600A Split Core CTs available.
Can I put four Split CTs on CH1 or CH2?
It is not recommended since the sum of the CT outputs may exceed the acceptable limit of 666mV (DUAL). This would not damage the monitor, however would affect the accuracy beyond a given amperage.
Can I connect SPLIT CTs on the AUX channel?
Currently only the TT-100 split core CTs may be used on the AUX channels.
Can I connect Micro CTs on CH1 or CH2?
Yes, as long as only the same type of micros CTs are used on that channels and that a burden resistor is installed. We include resistor kits with our packages.
I have a 200A panel. Do I need two 100A CTs for a total of 200A?
A 200A panel means that each line is rated for up to 200A, therefore you would require two 200A CTs.
I have a 200A panel that is lightly loaded and would probably never use more than 100A. Can I get by with 100A CTs?
The limitation here may be that of the CTs inner diameter. A 200A panel will have large conductors rated for 200A. The SPLIT-100 CT may not accommodate a 200A wire diameter.
How many Micro CTs can I put on a given AUX channel?
Up to five (possibly more) Micro CTs may be connected to a single AUX channel. The limitation is that the total measured amperage does not exceed 80A at any one time. Moderately exceeding 80A will not damage the ECM-1240, however it will result in lower than expected readings. Is there anything that can be done to monitor amperage greater than 80A on a given Aux channel? Yes, there are a few options:
Both of the above options will extend the maximum Aux channel current to 160A for the total of all CT amps.
Can I monitor a 240V load with a single CT?
Yes, providing that the following conditions are true:
I need to monitor a 100A panel using one of the AUX channels is this possible?
Yes, this may be done using two Micro-100 CTs or TT-100 Split-Core CTs.
Can I extend the CT leads?
Yes, but it is not recommended. The ECM-1240 was designed to be mounted next to or very near the electrical panel, with any required extension done via communication.
What happens if I exceed the max load current for a given ECM-1240 channel?
If the maximum load current is exceeded the accuracy for that channel will drop and the power reading will be less than actual. Moderately exceeding this maximum channel amperage will not damage the ECM-1240.
Communication:I want to write my own software. Can I access the data or obtain the protocol?
We now have several options for obtaining the data. Our newest firmware provides the options of receiving data in simple ASCII format. We can provide third party developers with the protocol.
Is the ECM-1240 compatible with common home automation software?
Yes. Some developers have created plug-ins and interfaces to allow our ECM-1240 and ECM-1220 to work with such Home Automation packages as: CQC, HomeSeer, Automated Systems, and others.
What options do I have for accessing data? Do you provide API?
We can provide our customers with the required information to write their own custom software or interface. Some of our newest packet format makes this extremely easy to do.
Does the ECM-1240 with the wireless option use WiFi to communicate with a wireless internet router?
No. The wireless communication does not use WiFi type communication such as that used to communicate with a laptop. Data is transmitted using the ZigBee protocol on a mesh network. Although it operates on the same 2.4GHz frequency as WiFi, the protocol is completely different. The mesh network aspect allows the insertion of additional nodes which would automatically repeat the signal where range is an issue.
What is the range of the wireless option?
If you have ever used WiFi, you are aware that range is not easy to determine because of so many factors affecting wireless communication, such as wall material, thickness, number of walls, outside interference, to name a few. We now have two solutions to deal with range issues. The ECM-1240 and wireless gateways are now available with external 2dBi antennas. We also have a "repeater" option which would locate between the ECM-1240 and gateway to relay the signal to both devices.
Can I use one common RS-232 port for several devices?
We now have passive multiplexing cable adapters to allow connecting more than one ECM-1240 to a common RS-232 port.
If multi ECM-1240 devices share a common RS-232 port, can you "talk" to each device individually?
Yes. Our latest firmware along with our latest IA software allows setting up the ECM-1240 to respond to up to for unique command bytes allowing the software to send a command to any given ECM-1240 device.
Software:What software options do you offer and what is the cost?
Installation:Can I install the ECM-1240 myself?
The ECM-1240 CTs must be installed by a qualified electrician. Once the CT leads have exited the panel and are properly anchored or secured, the remaining external wiring may be done by the homeowner. The CT signal is low-voltage and galvanic isolated from the power line. This makes it simple and safe for the homeowner to connect.
Can the ECM-1240 device be mounted inside the electrical panel?
NO! This is absolutely forbidden. Since all connections to the ECM-1240 device are isolated from live powerline voltages, it is important to keep these away from potential high voltages. A separate electrical style box may be installed next to the panel ensuring that no line voltages (120V or 240V) enter this enclosure.
Is it OK to install the ECM-1240 in a metal enclosure if it uses the optional wireless communication?
Unless the require range is only several feet, the shielding effect of the enclosure will greatly affect the RF signal. You may consider an ABS enclosure or adding the "external antenna option" when ordering the ECM-1240.