New Fridge - setting up monitoring

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Just got a new fridge, and I thought I would try monitoring operating
parameters with my home automation system.  I 've got sensors for kWhs used,
ambient room temperature, freezer and refrigerator temps and the temperature
of a sensor on the back of the unit.  I was hoping this should give me
enough of a baseline to be able to detect "out of whack" conditions before
they show up in a puddle on the floor or a failure to cool.

I discovered in my old fridge that as freon leaked, the kilowatt hours used
shot way up before I noticed the problem in the fridge temp (that became
obvious on a very hot day when we had the A/C off and the kitchen temp was
about 20 degrees over normal.  Unfortunately, on the old box, I didn't have
good baseline figures from the early on when it worked well.  That's why I
am trying to determine what information I need to be able to have my home
automation system (HomeVision, CPU-XA, ActiveHome and more) record and
process to alert me that there's an issue with the unit.

I suspect that the electricity consumed daily will rise as the dust on the
coils builds up.  That should be detectable by looking at the average daily
power used figure.  I am recording ambient, backplate and internal temps as
well in case the power usage increase is due to other factors, like this
stinking endless heat wave.  I also want a baseline on energy consumed and
back plate temperature in case I decide to put a filter on the air intake to
minimize coil cleaning.  I found out the hard way that an added filter can
decrease air flow on some devices to the point of overheating the motor.  If
the filter blocks too much airflow I would expect power consumption and the
back plate temperature to rise conspicuously.

Reading this over, I realized I need two more monitors.  A battery-backed
dialer that can call my cellphone to tell me to buy dry ice because the
power or compressor failed and a door alert to let me know if the dog
manages to open the door again!  She's been unable to do it with the new box
because the magnetic seal is incredibly strong - much stronger than the old
one.  Took nearly ten pounds of pull as measured by a fish scale.  But she
might figure out how to do it in time.  She's been watching very closely.
In fact, I nearly spit out my coffee because she was eating when the new
unit started up when it first arrived and she went off on it as if the
fridge had made a move on her food.  She's still not quite comfortable with
it.

Any suggestions on something I might have overlooked are cheerfully welcome.
Bad attempts at comedy or remarks on my sanity, with much less cheer.  (-:

--
Bobby G.



Re: New Fridge - setting up monitoring


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(-:
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I'd like to be the first to cast a vote for sanity, haha :-)

Did the amperage actually go up?  Or was it simply that the compressor
was running a lot more due to the lack of cooling?  I'd expect the
later.  It will be difficult to early detect a problem based on
electrical operating conditions.  An internal temp sensor is all that
most manufacturers use as an alert system.

Re: New Fridge - setting up monitoring


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used,
temperature
used
to
If
the
box
old
welcome.

<I'd like to be the first to cast a vote for sanity, haha :-)>

Arf, arf.  Is there an emoticon for glaring?   -.-*

<Did the amperage actually go up?  Or was it simply that the compressor
was running a lot more due to the lack of cooling?  I'd expect the
later.  It will be difficult to early detect a problem based on
electrical operating conditions.  An internal temp sensor is all that
most manufacturers use as an alert system.>

I only had the Kil-o-watt meter on the machine during the final stages of
what I assumed to be a pinhole leak in the coils in the freezer compartment
due to some oaf manhandling them during a rapid defrost.  (me)

What I saw was a constant increase in the KWH's used.  I assumed that to
keep an unvarying temperature inside the unit it was working harder and
harder (longer, actually) to cool as it had less and less refrigerant.  Or
that the compressor was experiencing greater friction from having less
refrigerant.

I was monitoring the room temperature as well.  When that shot up high
enough, the freezer temps began to rise almost in perfect correlation to the
room temp.  Only when the room temp got below 70 would the refrigerator
maintain normal inside temps.  All this leads me to believe that long before
I notice a change in the internal temperature of the unit, I would see a
rise in energy consumption.  In any event, just like medicine, it's probably
a good idea to have as many "base level readings" as you can.  That way,
when they change substantially, it's a pretty good idea that something's
wrong.

We'll see.

--
Bobby G.



Re: New Fridge - setting up monitoring


1) You must be an engineer?
2) Please consider a logger for how often and long the door is open.
That's a major factor in power usage.

--
Christopher A. Young
Learn more about Jesus
  www.lds.org
.


Just got a new fridge, and I thought I would try monitoring operating
parameters with my home automation system.  I 've got sensors for kWhs
used,
ambient room temperature, freezer and refrigerator temps and the
temperature
of a sensor on the back of the unit.  I was hoping this should give me
enough of a baseline to be able to detect "out of whack" conditions
before
they show up in a puddle on the floor or a failure to cool.

I discovered in my old fridge that as freon leaked, the kilowatt hours
used
shot way up before I noticed the problem in the fridge temp (that
became
obvious on a very hot day when we had the A/C off and the kitchen temp
was
about 20 degrees over normal.  Unfortunately, on the old box, I didn't
have
good baseline figures from the early on when it worked well.  That's
why I
am trying to determine what information I need to be able to have my
home
automation system (HomeVision, CPU-XA, ActiveHome and more) record and
process to alert me that there's an issue with the unit.

I suspect that the electricity consumed daily will rise as the dust on
the
coils builds up.  That should be detectable by looking at the average
daily
power used figure.  I am recording ambient, backplate and internal
temps as
well in case the power usage increase is due to other factors, like
this
stinking endless heat wave.  I also want a baseline on energy consumed
and
back plate temperature in case I decide to put a filter on the air
intake to
minimize coil cleaning.  I found out the hard way that an added filter
can
decrease air flow on some devices to the point of overheating the
motor.  If
the filter blocks too much airflow I would expect power consumption
and the
back plate temperature to rise conspicuously.

Reading this over, I realized I need two more monitors.  A
battery-backed
dialer that can call my cellphone to tell me to buy dry ice because
the
power or compressor failed and a door alert to let me know if the dog
manages to open the door again!  She's been unable to do it with the
new box
because the magnetic seal is incredibly strong - much stronger than
the old
one.  Took nearly ten pounds of pull as measured by a fish scale.  But
she
might figure out how to do it in time.  She's been watching very
closely.
In fact, I nearly spit out my coffee because she was eating when the
new
unit started up when it first arrived and she went off on it as if the
fridge had made a move on her food.  She's still not quite comfortable
with
it.

Any suggestions on something I might have overlooked are cheerfully
welcome.
Bad attempts at comedy or remarks on my sanity, with much less cheer.
(-:

--
Bobby G.




Re: New Fridge - setting up monitoring


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Father was one, and I started out in his footsteps but then got sidetracked.
To my wife's eternal annoyance, I am a home automation enthusiast.  Her take
is "we wouldn't need all this automated crap if you weren't too lazy to get
up an turn off a light."  That's probably true but it hasn't changed
anything.  She actually likes *some* of the features of an automated house,
but clearly not nearly as much as I do.

Quoted text here. Click to load it

That's actually a great idea.  I knew we kept you around for a reason
despite all the folks who'd like to lynch you for being a top poster.  (-:
(just kidding!)

Tracking "door open time" will allow me to determine if increased energy
usage is from mechanical issues or just greater use.  That might also mean
tracking humidity because the unit has to work harder if lots of humid air
is allowed in during long openings like the ones that occuring during
loading after a grocery trip.  I've also decided to track peak current draw
(now at 760 watts) because I assume that any nascent compressor problems
will cause that number to increase.  I can also set a variable that rings an
alarm if the door open time exceeds a predetermined value.

The old box would probably still be alive had it closed properly on one very
humid night.  It didn't take much time at all to encase the coil in a block
of ice and during my impatient defrosting efforts, I cracked a solder joint.
Since it was 30+ years old (Westinghouse) I figured it was time for a new
one, even if we plan to move soon.  It was worth it just to have ice cold
beer again.

Thanks for your input!

--
Bobby G.



Re: New Fridge - setting up monitoring


Robert Green wrote:
I am a home automation enthusiast.
sounds like an understatement.

I'd like to hear more about the monitoring system
as a whole.

I'd like to graph total electric power consumption.
I use a Palm Pilot to count the IR pulses out of the
power meter, but the newer palms that support bluetooth
have the newer OS that doesn't support direct reading
of the IR port.  So it's not wireless.
Then I got a BlueLine wireless power meter, but that doesn't
support logging.  I've never been able to determine the communication
protocol or whether there's a pin inside that I can tap to log the
data.

What's a good cheap method to log total consumption...emphasis on the
cheap...free...?

Thanks, mike

Re: New Fridge - setting up monitoring


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Nah, there are people who have systems that astound me.  They log everything
that happens - from all details of the weather to the daily consumption of
water, gas, electricity, etc.  One gent in California had a solar heating
and power system that even opened and closed casement windows automatically
according to the weather conditions.

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Not if you want to do it on the cheap.  In the search for a "magic bullet"
I've bought a lot of bullets and very few of them were magical except in the
holes they put in my VISA balance.

The Kill-o-Watt provides a visual indicator and a reference but I do
datalogging with old Radio Shack PC-interface meters and old, low power
consumption laptops like a Dell Crapitude with broken hinge running a very
old version of the Ratshack recording software (actually developed by a
company called Metex).

The laptop is hooked up in the basement just below the fridge with a 30' ft.
serial cable I used to use Fastwire and LapLink with (before LANs were
reasonably priced). Real time monitoring is done through a power strip that
has the conductors separated and a home-brew "current sensor"  (a few turns
of wire wrapped around one of the conductors) running into a CPU-XA that can
send alarms or take actions based on preset analog values.

Calibration of that was done using a strip of 8 porcelain lamp sockets and
combinations of 25, 40, 60 and 100 watt bulbs so I could simulate the draw
of various wattages.  The Kill-O-Watt is very useful for knowing the exact
number but basically I will set the new fridge up by making sure that the
starting up current draw won't trip the alarm, but eight 100 watt light
bulbs do.  (Shut up about your solenoids, "Doc" - it's my hobby!)

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There's nothing wireless about my current setup except the Chaney fridge
thermometer.  I will be installing my own digital temperature sensors in the
freezer compartment by going in through the unused water line for the
icemaker option that I declined.

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I "fight" continuously with makers of home automation equipment to convince
them that data logging is an important part of home monitoring.  Well, for
me, anyway.  (-:

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Ah yes, I see you've been searching for the magic bullet, too.  I've been
very disappointed by the number of proprietary protocols in devices like
wireless thermometers.  Like remote controls, there's only moderate
agreement about how things should be done.

Stuff like monitoring the fridge is really just a curiosity.  Since there
are no "blood tests" to see if a fridge is sick, I want to monitor whatever
conditions I can to see if I can determine when it's in need of cleaning or
when something's out of whack.  Someday they will come with a little LED
like on my central vac that goes from green to yellow to red as it fills up
telling you the coils need cleaning.

This newer GE is far better sealed off from dirt that the 30+ Whirlpool it's
replacing.  Anyway, I'm just curious to monitor the life cycle of the fridge
to see what is revealed.  While I am it, it seems logical to try to prevent
or at least alert me to certain modes of failure, as someone suggested, a
horn that sounds when the door's been open longer than a few minutes.

As noted in a previous message, once I have enough readings about power
usage, temperature of the backplate, internal compartments and ambient room
temperature, I am going to try placing a custom made filter over the
openings in the bottom of the unit where dusty air is likely to enter.  I am
afraid that by lowering the airflow to the compressor by filtering it I will
shorten its life or even burn it out.  The data I collect running it
filter-free will allow me to compare the two states to help decide whether
it's useful to filter or not.  As someone else pointed out, it's a lot
easier to pop an old filter out and a new one in that it is to get all the
dust off the innards once it has built up.  Since it's always moist from
condensation, dust and hair can matte up into a mighty sticky, very "uggy"
plaster on the surface of the coils, lowering their heat transfer capability
significantly.

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No cheap, free that  I know of, although there are suitable broken hinged
laptops and new and used PC interface meters on Ebay all the time for less
than $100 combined.  There are, I am sure, people who will be able to
suggest cheaper methods - mine is just what evolved.

--
Bobby G.

(crossposted in comp.home.automation and alt.home.repair)



Re: New Fridge - setting up monitoring


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(-:
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Did you ever use a kill-a- watt meter, they are accurate, easy to use
and record Kwh usage over several days. They are great for doing you
own energy audit of most all apliances and devices.

Re: New Fridge - setting up monitoring


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But she

Yes.   And I've always been able to spot a fridge failure without a
dozen sensors monitoring my fridge.   After all, it's a fridge not a
Boeing 777.

Re: New Fridge - setting up monitoring


On Aug 4, 12:45=A0pm, trad...@optonline.net wrote:
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His frige may outlive him, I could understand monitoring boiler flue
temp or furnace temp at the coil or computer core temp, but right its
no aircraft.

Re: New Fridge - setting up monitoring


On Aug 4, 12:45 pm, trad...@optonline.net wrote:
Quoted text here. Click to load it
used,
temperature
before
used
became
was
have
why I
home
the
daily
temps as
this
and
intake to
can
motor. If
and the
battery-backed
Quoted text here. Click to load it
the
new box
the old
she
closely.
new
with
welcome.
(-:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

<His frige may outlive him, I could understand monitoring boiler flue
temp or furnace temp at the coil or computer core temp, but right its
no aircraft.>

You have a great faith in modern manufacturing that I don't think is
warranted considering all the refrigerator issues that crop up regularly on
this list.  But in your house, you can do what you please, obviously. In
mine, I like to use technology to keep ahead of the repair curve.  Someday,
items like refrigerators will contain an ethernet jack and can be remotely
monitored for abnormal conditions with ease.  In the next house, we'll have
an autostart generator, but where I am now, the power rarely goes out but I
want to be on top of it if it does.

FWIW, I do have a number of extra heat, CO and other sensors covering the
furnace, the hot water heater and the A/C if only because I have a great
interest in home automation.

For now, I am quite happy to know that I've taken as many precautions as
required to prevent coming home and finding all the frozen food melted and
refrozen.

--
Bobby G.



Re: New Fridge - setting up monitoring


(Robert Green) writes:

| Someday,
| items like refrigerators will contain an ethernet jack and can be remotely
| monitored for abnormal conditions with ease.

Of course, you will have to pay a monthly fee to the monitoring service.
The protocol used will not be available to the consumer for "safety reasons".

| In the next house, we'll have
| an autostart generator,

I'm working on this now.  I told the propane company that I wanted a
remote tank level indicator in the house.  They said they had a great
service where I could check my tank level on the Internet.  I explained
that I wanted a wire from the tank to a box in the house that showed the
level and had alarm contacts for low level.  (I even showed them some
sample devices in catalogs.)  They said they could program their "modem"
to call me when my tank was low.  I said that I didn't want to involve
their "modem" at all.  They said I shouldn't worry about it because
something could always be done after the tanks were installed.  I pointed
out that the nice monitor device in the catalog supported only two of
the four popular tank gauge fittings (not including snap-in) so it would
really be better to work this out before the tanks were in the ground,
especially since I'm buying the tanks.

It's been several weeks and still no quote. :(

                Dan Lanciani
                ddl@danlan.*com

Re: New Fridge - setting up monitoring


Dan Lanciani wrote:
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expect an outlandish bid, in effect telling you that they don't want to do
the job. i own my own tank and call around for quotes before every fill,
which has saved me hundreds of dollars. i did find someone who will match
any fill quote from anyone in the area; unfortunately he didn't say that
he's beat any quote.



Re: New Fridge - setting up monitoring


robert_green1963@yah00.com (Robert Green) writes:
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remotely
reasons".

We can only hope that "open standards" will prevail but I have my doubts.  I
read a news item about Intuit just completely screwing over its users who it
had migrated to the "cloud" and only providing a data converter when hounded
by thousands of irate loyal customers.  I wonder when the first national
cloud computing disaster will occur.  Critical business data stored and
managed off-site by who knows who or what working from where?  Yeah, I'll do
that.  (-:

It would be great if all home appliances (and maybe even cars) had a LAN
jack and all basic setup functions and data analysis could be performed with
a web browser.  It really is a great modular design and all the standards
are already in place.

Quoted text here. Click to load it

When I first started to install CCTV around the house that I wanted to be
able to see over the internet, the vendors all proposed solutions involving
running all access through servers in China with javascript and all sorts of
other security holes enabled.  Uh uh.  No way.

Quoted text here. Click to load it

That's a clear indication your salesmen is way outside his comfort zone.  If
you pester him he might eventually find someone up the food chain that knows
about these things, but you'd really have to pester him.  Sounds like they
want your remote access device installed *afterward* so they can blame any
problems (which will most likely be related to their inexperience with the
device) on you.

You can tell the pioneers by the numbers of arrow stuck in their backs.
(0-:

--
Bobby G.




Re: New Fridge - setting up monitoring


Quoted text here. Click to load it
used,
temperature
before
used
was
have
I
home
the
daily
as
and
intake to
can
If
the
box
old
with
welcome.
(-:
Quoted text here. Click to load it

<<Yes.   And I've always been able to spot a fridge failure without a
dozen sensors monitoring my fridge.   After all, it's a fridge not a
Boeing 777.>>

Even when you're traveling and away from the house?  How do you do that?

--
Bobby G.




Re: New Fridge - setting up monitoring


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What good does knowing do when you're away from the house? All that
does is make you worry and ruin your vacation.

Re: New Fridge - setting up monitoring


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<What good does knowing do when you're away from the house? All that
does is make you worry and ruin your vacation.>

Well, I can have someone go and check to see what's wrong for one thing.
YMMV, but if I was away and kept seeing news reports of the electricity
being out in 100,000s of home in my area (as just happened in the DC area -
thousands are still without power 5 days after the storms) it would be
*very* comforting to know that my house still had power and I had nothing to
worry about.  The exact opposite of the situation you've envisioned.

--
Bobby G.





Re: New Fridge - setting up monitoring


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When I'm traveling, I have much better things to think about than what
the temp and operating efficiency of my fridge is.   Do you have $20K
worth of food in that fridge?    So, if I lose $200 worth of food, big
deal.   Guess what.  In 40+ years, living in many houses and
apartments, it has happened exactly one time.   That was when I was in
college and since it was a dorm fridge, the college even paid us for
the lost food.   And it's not exactly a bad thing either, as when u
clean out the freezer, probably 20% of the food has long been
forgotten and should have been chucked long ago.

On the other hand, what's the cost, time, and maintenance involved in
placing multiple monitors on a refrigerator over 40 years?  How often
do the sensors and other parts of the system fail compared to the
fridge?   In my experience, home electronics is far less reliable than
the fridge.

Re: New Fridge - setting up monitoring


Quoted text here. Click to load it
became
why
temps
this
motor.
and
battery-backed
Quoted text here. Click to load it
the
new
the
she
closely.
new

<When I'm traveling, I have much better things to think about than what
the temp and operating efficiency of my fridge is.   Do you have $20K
worth of food in that fridge?    So, if I lose $200 worth of food, big
deal.   Guess what.  In 40+ years, living in many houses and
apartments, it has happened exactly one time.   That was when I was in
college and since it was a dorm fridge, the college even paid us for
the lost food.   And it's not exactly a bad thing either, as when u
clean out the freezer, probably 20% of the food has long been
forgotten and should have been chucked long ago.

On the other hand, what's the cost, time, and maintenance involved in
placing multiple monitors on a refrigerator over 40 years?  How often
do the sensors and other parts of the system fail compared to the
fridge?   In my experience, home electronics is far less reliable than
the fridge.>

I keep the severed head of Jimmy Hoffa in my freezer.  I wouldn't want it to
go bad just because a breaker tripped or something failed.  (-;

--
Bobby G.



Re: New Fridge - setting up monitoring


Quoted text here. Click to load it
used,
temperature
used
to
If
the
box
old
welcome.

Did you ever use a kill-a- watt meter, they are accurate, easy to use
and record Kwh usage over several days. They are great for doing you
own energy audit of most all apliances and devices.

Yes, that's what I was using to calculate the increasing power usage during
the fridge's final days.  I have four of them now - Fry's was selling out
the old model (where you had to do your own math) for $12 each so I got
three extra ones.  One to leave on the refrigerator 24x7, another to leave
on the window AC in the bedroom, a third to lend out to friends and a fourth
to be perpetually lost somewhere in the house.

--
Bobby G.



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