Last week we were assigned projects for our 4th semester and I was selected for the energy sector. As a part of it, when I was exploring the subject, my attention was driven towards Centralized Air Conditioning Systems. My biggest concern was, does that amount to a significant proportion of the total energy consumption.
Based on a research done by Computer Science and Engineering Department of University of California ( http://synergy.ucsd.edu/files/Balaji_BuildSys2013_ZonePAC.pdf )commercial buildings consume about 40% of the total energy for air conditioning. This is a significant proportion of the total energy consumption.
So we started work on measuring the power consumed by air conditioning. When centralized air conditioning is used, the zonal power consumption cannot be measured directly, because the production unit is at a separate place. Therefore a model has to be used to measure the power consumption. So we used the first principles and using the flow rate and the temperature we were able to calculate the power consumption.
The next task was to implement a mobile unit which can be fixed to a room. These units should also be capable of transmitting data to a server. Since we needed minimal processing power and a low cost option, arduino was chosen. Analog pins were used to get input from the temperature sensors, and in the first stage the data was transmitted to a computer using the serial port.
Gobetwino was used to write the temperature data to a csv file which could then be easily transferred on to a database. As the next step a java based application was developed to generate a real time graph using the data extracted from the csv file. The results were impressive and real time analysis could be monitored.
If the development process is successful, ( i.e.if a wi-fi module can be fixed to the arduino, and have a wireless connection) most likely this would be a commercially viable product.
Who knows? May be someday this device would be measuring the power consumption at your own work place.