Introducing eMARC: Remote monitoring of electricity consumption patterns in Indian Homes

Introducing eMARC: Remote monitoring of electricity consumption patterns in Indian Homes

Author(s): Prayas Energy Group    Publication Date: June 5th, 2018


eMARC is a new initiative by Prayas (Energy Group) to monitor and analyse electricity consumption across a sample of homes in India. Under this initiative, GPRS enabled monitors are installed on the main line of the homes as well as selected appliances to monitor their minute-wise electricity consumption. Using IoT based system data is collected on a server, analysed, and presented every month on www.watchyourpower.org. The data-sets (without personal details) will be available soon for download.

Electricity consumption by homes forms about a quarter (22%) of India’s total electricity consumption. Increasing urbanization, growing demand for cooling, and increased use of appliances is the major contributor to residential sector’s electricity consumption increase rapidly.  Household electricity consumption varies with income, geography, behavioural tendencies and supply quality. Understanding the factors and behaviours that lead to variation in consumption patterns across states and households is important for managing future electricity demand.

Several surveys in recent past have thrown some light on the various aspects of residential consumption like appliance ownership and purchase patterns. However, accuracy of information on actual electricity consumption in homes collected through surveys can be limited. This is because of two key reasons: (a) respondents may have difficulty in recalling the actual use of appliances and at different times of the day; and (b) the actual power consumption of appliances may be different from the rated power consumption claimed by the manufacturer. eMARC aims to address this gap by collecting and publishing minute-wise electricity consumption data of entire homes and selected appliances. We have started with Pune and will eventually extend to other urban, semi-urban, and rural areas in India. Monthly consumption and daily load curves (non-personalized) recorded by these monitors will be periodically updated on this website. eMARC builds on our existing electricity supply monitoring initiative which measures and publishes the quality of electricity supply in about 300 locations across the country.

Under eMARC, two monitors are typically installed in a home. One is installed by a trained electrician on the main line and the second monitor is connected to one specific appliance like refrigerator or air-conditioner. Both the monitors measure electricity-use data including electricity consumed (kWh), active power (kW), voltage, and power factor (pf) per minute, and send this information to a server using GPRS enabled monitor. Each monitor consumes less than 1 unit of electricity per month.

Insights derived from eMARC can be useful to different stakeholder groups. They can help distribution utilities understand the cumulative impact of high power appliances like air-conditioners and electric water-heaters on the load curve. Actual consumption data from a sample of appliances can also be used to design campaigns that highlight the magnitude of real impacts of energy efficiency on consumer electricity bills. Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE), which is responsible for running the Standards and Labeling (S&L) programme, can use the data to modify the procedures and ratings to represent the actual consumption of appliances more accurately. Finally, manufacturers can use the data to understand the performance of their products under actual operating conditions.

eMARC adds to our ongoing research in the area of residential electricity consumption (REC). This includes a comprehensive review of literature and data sources on REC , a blog series sharing insights on various aspects of REC and a report on understanding the impacts of UJALA scheme ( LED Bulbs) on household behaviour related to lighting.