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Field Test Best Practices: A Resource for Practical Residential Building Science

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Whole-House Electrical Energy Use

There are several approaches to collecting whole-house electrical energy use data. The most common method for acquiring research-quality data is to install current transformers and a watt transducer at the main circuit breaker panel and record the measurements with a data-acquisition system. If the home is equipped with an advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) meter, it may be possible to collect the information from the meter via a wireless home area network (HAN) connection to an automated home energy management (AHEM) system. Some manufacturers of AHEM devices allow connection to automated meter reading (AMR) type utility meters as well, using a translator box. There are pros and cons to each approach. Relying on wireless communication from the meter head avoids the hassle of having to hire an electrician to work in the breaker panel; however, the sample rate of the data will be limited by what the meter is capable of reporting. Device selection will depend on the resolution requirements of the analysis approach you plan to take as well as logistical considerations for the test site (space and access issues, for example).