And recall, that for very good reasons, the NEC sort of frowns on untested things being added to your panels - esp in control positions. You'd also hate to have your insurance cancelled on you (or worst - not get a payment after a fire or some such) because of a bad hack.
Check out cutler-hammer and Powr R Command. Your not going to like the price. The UL motorized breakers are expensive. IMO system works best when you time on and off the breakers. The switching interface is quirky. The interface for it is CH only, unless the have changed it in the last year. You will have to buy the panel, the software and a meter that suits your need. Most that are utility grade will cost at least $1000.00 from CH. Based on a 200 amp panel the meters will have a hard time measuring below 10 amps. The old
5% rule. Current transformers do not work well below 5% of their max rating.
Check Watchkeeper. (PCI, eastern seaboard of the US.) They make relay panels that can be controlled by computer. You can trend and control the individual relays. All switching for the relays is low voltage. I have maintained several large systems and like the modem interface. Not cheap. 24 v dc.
GE makes low voltage relay panels as well. Their RR-7 and RR-9 relays are almost bullet proof. They cost >50 bucks each. The RR-9's have a dry contact you can get status of each relay. I had a oppertunity to remove 14 of the brains and redo the system to run on a PLC. GE wanted way to much money to help us upgrade the panels to an networked situation. The PLC is working fine for the last 12 years. Also low voltage switching, works on 24 volt half wave dc.
The last two suggestions are maintained contact relays, it takes a source of power to change state. (latching relays if your familar) Makes a big difference when the power fails and you want to do something.
You can also get a HMI package from Intelliusion, WonderWare, Iconics and do the controlling from there. A development software package will cost upwards of 10 grand. I have set these up for temp control and water treatment plants. The infrastructure is expensive. I hope these ideas help.
Thanks, the PowerLink appears to be a beautiful solution, but more than I need. I need a smaller, simpler, less expensive, less featured version for my rather ordinary home.
I am looking for a centralized electrical power distribuition point for my home that can be software monitored and controlled from my home computer and would be somehow connected to it by wired or wireless means.
I would like:
to be able to remotely monitor and meter each circuit, or possibly down
to the outlet level, through my local home computer and if possible a remotely located computer (i.e. work)
to be able to turn on or off or reset each circuit
to have a remote monitorable, controllable, built in UPS, surge suppression system built into the panel
to be automatically notified of anything out of the ordinary for the computer to reduce my electricity bill by somehow making the usage more efficient
You certainly want to be on the load side of your panelboard. Don't kick that tarbaby. If you just want to control a few loads you can do it with surplus relays or even SSRs but be generous with the ratings and be sure to remember SSRs get hot. I am using 40a SSRs to control my spa heater (5.5KW on each) but they are mounted on big finned heat sinks and they still run warm to the touch.
5ma will switch 40a so that is pretty computer friendly. I found some great CTs at Jameco for a couple bucks that will detect low currents when coupled to an op amp and that feeds back into CMOS pretty easy. A LM324 is four 741 op amps in a dip. That is a radio shack part. I am just using them as a switch. You can also detect analog levels with the right hardware. If you are really serious about this you will need a data aquisition and driver card for your PC. YMMV a lot on these. You can probably find a cheap one on Ebay but be sure you can get some software that supports it. My spa controller is all hard wired CMOS and I haven't really tried the DA cards I have accumulated. It is a pretty basic application and hard wired made more sense. It really all depends on how complicated you want to be and how much you want to control. Start slow and be careful. Be sure you use good wiring practices so you isolate low voltage and line voltage and that any failing line voltage device is securely enclosed for fire and flash hazards.
Metering each circuit might be a bit of a problem, but to control appliances (or outlets), consider using X10 devices. They are already UL listed and won't get you into trouble with the local inspection authorities for installing unapproved equipment in your panel. The lines of equipment that are approved for this sort of thing aren't going to be cheap and may be difficult to find for residential class panelboards.