Inexpensive Stick-On Ac Voltage Sensors For Circuit Breakers

University of California System: University of California, Berkeley
posted on 06/19/2012

There is growing interests in managing electricity utilization and efficiency in commercial and residential buildings. However, most electricity monitoring solutions are prohibitively expensive to manufacture and/or install — especially because they require professional installation (i.e., a “truck roll”).

To address this problem, researchers at UC Berkeley have developed AC voltage sensors that are inexpensive to manufacture, and equally important, don’t require trained personnel to install — thereby making the installation inexpensive and easy. The Berkeley voltage sensors don’t require electrically conductive connections, and accordingly, they can simply be adhesively attached to individual circuit breakers in a conventional multi-breaker box or to an isolated circuit breaker. The sensors can measure waveform or amplitude of the AC voltage, and via that analysis can determine what applications are energized at given times on a particular circuit. This solution can be used for plug loads (e.g., lamps, computers, space heaters, etc.) as well as non-plug loads (e.g., HVAC, pool heaters, etc.). This sensor technology could be marketed individually or as a group that is assembled together with AC current sensors (see earlier invention disclosures). Moreover, small radio chips could be attached to the sensors for transmission of data for various applications such as demand response, identification of electrical loads, and remote indication of tripped breakers.

Innovation Details

File Number: 22490 

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Copyright: ©2012, The Regents of the University of California

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