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2015 IEEE Student Conference on Research and Development (SCOReD)

Smart Plug Prototype for Monitoring Electrical

Appliances in Home Energy Management System

Maytham S. Ahmed¹, a, Azah Mohamed², a, Raad Z. Hussain Shareef4,c, Ahmad H. Sabry5,d, khairuddin bin
Homod 3,b khalid6,a
a c
Department of Electrical, Electronic and Systems Department of Electrical Engineering, United Arab
Engineering, Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment, Emirates University, P.O. Box 155511 Al-Ain,
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, 43600 Bnagi, Selangor, UAE
Malaysia d
Control and Automation Engineering
Department of Petroleum and Gas Engineering, Basrah University Putra Malaysia UPM
University, Qarmat Ali Campus, 61004 Basrah, Iraq Serdang, Malaysia
¹,, 4,,
3 6

Abstract— Recently, the technology of Home Energy sector, the technology developed for DR strategy is HEMS
Management System (HEMS) has expanded for the purpose of that can reduce total electric bill and peak demand by
reducing energy consumption. This paper presents the scheduling the home electrical appliances according to
development of a smart plug with a wireless Zigbee sensor for priority, comfort level and preference setting [7]. A HEMS
measuring power consumption of electrical appliances in the involves any device or product that can analyze energy
HEMS. Experiments were carried out to evaluate the power consumption, control and monitor home electrical appliances
consumption of a wireless sensor node in a smart plug using only [8].
Zigbee as a microcontroller. Experimental results showed that
the smart plug using Zigbee is capable of processing and Many smart devices such as smart meters and smart plugs
analyzing the analogue sensor signal with lower power have been used to support intelligent buildings so as to assist
consumption. In addition, the data obtained from the wireless homeowners to control the electrical appliances remotely from
sensor is more accurate and smoother as compared with the data their smart phone and make better decisions about energy
obtained from the oscilloscope. The proposed smart plug has the consumption [9]. Smart grid technologies are applied to
characteristics of simple design, low cost, low power consumption provide real-time energy consumption to consumer and utility
and easy to control electrical home appliances by switching on/off [10] and it provides two way communication between the grid
from the HEMS controller. and customers. Smart meter is one such monitoring device in a
smart grid system connected at the home entrance to allow
Keywords—smart plug; power consumption; home energy
management ; zigbee; energy efficiency; home appliance
active participation of consumer to manage power delivery
and reduce its cost [11]. A smart plug sits between the wall
I. INTRODUCTION outlet and the electrical appliance and it is used to control and
monitor appliances remotely [12]. Furthermore, it allows user
Energy management system considered by both power to get data for optimizing the usage of appliance and get
utility and customers is developed for the purpose of benefit of lower energy consumption by remotely scheduling
increasing energy efficiency, reducing energy costs and or turning on/off the appliance in a room via tablet or
reducing greenhouse gas emissions. In Malaysia the smartphone using Zigbee communication [13]. Non-smart
generation in 2013 was 140.18 GWh, whereas the total appliances should also be considered for energy management
electrical energy consumption was 123.16 GWh [1]. For systems and therefore it is necessary to find a practical
efficient utilization of electrical energy, an energy solution to connect non-smart appliances to a controller. So
management system is required. It is noted that residential the design of smart plugs form a network of distributed
buildings have significantly increased the total worldwide sensing nodes, which provide remotely switch loads (on/off)
energy in which about one third of energy use is by the and control the electrical appliances in a HEMS. In this paper,
building sector [2]. In Peninsular Malaysia, about 21% of the a prototype of smart plug is developed by using a stand-alone
total energy consumption in the year 2012 was utilized for device supported with Zigbee wireless communication for
household appliances and cooling systems [3, 4]. implementing a HEMS in smart homes. A node is connected
Demand response (DR) program can support demand side to a home appliances and it is used for sending power
management so as to reduce power consumption in residential consumption data of each device by means of Zigbee
and commercial buildings by considering time of use, real communication to a data collection device such as personal
time pricing and critical peak pricing [5, 6]. In the residential computer. This method can record household daily energy

978-1-4673-9572-4/15/$31.00 ©2015 IEEE 32

2015 IEEE Student Conference on Research and Development (SCOReD)

consumption in terms of current, voltage and power for each factors on the management technique of our wireless home
device. By implementing a smart plug, it is easy to control the automation system. The hardware design of the slave circuit is
appliances, low cost and it provides bidirectional shown in Figure.2
communication channel directly with the central meter of a


A. Overview
The smart plug is designed such that it uses two main
sensors for voltage and current, so as to adopt single supply. A
prototype smart plug is designed similar to plug shape and size
and it provides remote monitoring and switching off/on of the
appliances. Figure.1 shows the smart plug connected between
the electrical appliances and the HEMS controller. The smart
plug implementation steps begin with Zigbee nodes
configuration to initialize the system parameters and to
indicate the maximum and the minimum values of the
measured signal.

Fig. 2. Simulation design of the proposed power node

The proposed power node shown in Figure.2 represents a

wireless communication transceiver node which is located at
each home appliance. This transceiver node has the essential
elements used for measuring the energy parameters as well as
receiving control signals required for managing energy saving.
The first input channel or the current channel, is connected to
(AD0) or pin 20 of the Zigbee Pro. Current is sensed when the
household current supply passes through the current sensor. A
voltage signal proportional with that current is produced and
delivered to the conditioning circuit. An op-amp circuit is
utilized to convert the AC resultant current signal into average
Fig.1. Connection of the smart plug between the appliances and HEMS DC form suitable for Zigbee input to process and to send the
controller current value by wireless means.
The second input channel or the voltage channel, is
connected to AD1 or pin 19 of Zigbee Pro. Voltage is sensed
B. Smart plug hardware implementation when a sample of household supply voltage is taken through a
In implementing the proposed smart plug prototype, three voltage divider circuit to AD1. The voltage is also processed
considerations are described accordingly by taking into and sent by wireless means.
account power energy node, data communication and software The analog to digital converter (ADC) of the Zigbee
design. microcontroller has a 10 bit resolution conversion. This means
that the ADC assumes 3.3V is 1023 and anything less than
i. The Proposed Power Energy Node 3.3V will be a ratio between 3.3V and 1023.

A smart plug is an outlet socket that can measure the energy

consumption of an electrical appliance. It measures the
consumed power with the help of current and voltage sensors
and controls it with a relay. The proposed power node includes Analogue to digital conversion depends on the system
three circuits to measure three parameters, current, voltage, voltage. For a 10-bit ADC of the Zigbee on a 3.3V system, the
and power factor. These parameters are considered as the main following equation is derived as,

2015 IEEE Student Conference on Research and Development (SCOReD)

1023 connected to the Zigbee port. Figure3 shows a prototype of the

3.3 developed smart plug. The circuit board sizes are designed
suitable to be placed inside the plug. To test the accuracy of
the received data, an energy analyzer is used to determine
ii. Data Communication Transmit readings for current and voltage. The received signals are
compared with that measured and displayed on the
The energy communication node is designed to perform oscilloscope.
data readings, accessing, transmission and parameter
realization through the coordinator node which is connected Figure. 4 and 5 show the results of testing the transmitted
directly to a data collector such as a personal computer (PC). data that were measured by using oscilloscope and that
The smart plug transmits the values of voltage and current to obtained from the wireless Zigbee RF, respectively. In order to
the HEMS via a Zigbee wireless connection. The Zigbee RF increase the accuracy, the output data signal have been
module is line with the IEEE 802.15.4 based specification for sampled based-on two different mediums as shown in the
a two-way wireless communication technology with graphs which are obtained from the calibrated oscilloscope
transmitter and receiver components. The voltage and current and MATLAB. From both figures, the results show
sensors are connected with op-amp conditioning circuits so as similarities in the outputs. The accuracy of the proposed
to read the analogue values of data. The op-amp circuit will wireless data acquisition circuit, which utilizes the Zigbee RF
generate a signal for voltage or current suitable to the changes Module, is considered satisfactory. In addition, the results of
in the sensing side and it provides these signals to the channels data obtained from wireless connection are more accurate and
of the analogue input of the Zigbee. The power supply voltage smoother as compared with the data from oscilloscope.
to the Zigbee module range between 2.8 to 3.7V supplied Figure 6 shows an application of the proposed smart plug
through a DC adaptor or from on-board battery. We have used by monitoring and measuring the power consumption of home
pins 20 and 19 (analogue input pins) with a reference voltage appliances over a period of 24 hours.
equal to the Zigbee biasing voltage (3.3V) and 1mW power
consumption in order to reduce the components and attain the
full range of the input analogue voltage. The collected data is
sent to the HEMS coordinator which is linked directly to the
PC via an appropriate MatLab® program driver which is
developed to manage and access the data.

iii. Software Design

For accessing and configuring the data, a USB interface

card is connected to the data collection device system (PC).
The software X-CTU is used to program the Zigbee to set
parameters directly by connecting the module to the USB
serial port (COM). One Zigbee is connected to the data
collection device system and interfaced with a MATLAB
software so as to configure it as a coordinator. Another Zigbee
is configured to connect with the voltage and current sensors
through the conditioning circuits as an end device. Therefore,
MATLAB program is used as the software to analyse the data
with used appropriate faction to access the energy sensors
data. In order to communicate with the serial of external
device from MATLAB, the specific serial port of the data
collection device system that is connected to the external
device is first identified and created. Subsequent, send a
command signal to the external device and receive the data
from the external device. Finally, disconnect the serial Fig.3 Smart plug hardware
communication connection from the external device with
release control of the serial port.

III. Experimental Results

The performance of the prototype card is tested in terms of

data transmission rate and accuracy of the received data.
Analytical estimation of energy saving is also made. The
current sensor type ACS712 ±5 A is used and its output is

2015 IEEE Student Conference on Research and Development (SCOReD)

Table.1 Comparison between the power consumed by the

Zigbee and Arduino Uno

Specifications of Arduino Uno Zigbee Pro


Data Process Power (mW) 400 64

Transmit Power (mW) 1.9 1.3

Operating Voltage (V) 5 3.3

Length (mm) 96.21 27.61

Width (mm) 77.78 24.38
Weight (gm) 28 5
Fig.4 Test signal from oscilloscope

A smart plug prototype has been designed and developed
to measure the power consumption of electrical homes
appliances by using a wireless sensor network interfaced with
a HEM. The proposed smart plug in the HEMS allows end-
users to access power consumption information in real-time.
End-users can easily turn on/off the electrical home appliances
by connecting the appliances to the smart plug with Zigbee
communication. The results showed that proposed smart plug
is efficient and accurate in measuring the power consumption
for signals with less than 20 ms sampling periods. The
proposed smart plug prototype with the Zigbee
microcontroller can be applied for demand response in the
Fig.5 Test signal from the Zigbee RF module HEMS.

The authors greatly acknowledge University Kebangsaan
Malaysia for funding this project under DIP-2-14-028.

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