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PNNL Lab Homes

Experiment: Non-intrusive Load Monitoring Technologies

PNNL and the Northwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (NEEA) are conducting research in the Lab Homes and Northwest Testbed Homes (which are a collection of occupied residential homes in the Pacific Northwest with sub-metering to monitor energy use) to validate and confirm the accuracy of Non-Intrusive Load Monitoring (NILM) technology, particularly their ability to differentiate and measure loads in real test homes.

In the past, it has been challenging to acquire energy performance data from a building and from its individual appliances because of cost, complexity, and intrusiveness of the measurement and verification equipment and process. For example, building audits are time-intensive, expensive, and intrusive, as have been historic sub-metering approaches. Despite these challenges, the data are valuable to utilities, researchers, and homeowners who want to conserve energy.

The NILM technology provides a promising solution for gathering detailed data about the energy usage of a building and its appliances (i.e., voltage and current) from a single, centralized monitoring point, such as a building service entrance.

In 2014, the NILM research project in the Lab Homes will individually monitor the largest appliance loads and track kilowatt hour consumption from the home’s electric meter. These tests will also evaluate how accurately NILM technologies can distinguish individual loads from a single monitoring point in the home while multiple electrical loads (of varying sizes and types) are running simultaneously. This testing will produce a robust set of performance data that will enable PNNL to evaluate each NILM technology’s accuracy in a comprehensive fashion. The technologies will be evaluated for both their ability to correctly identify individual appliances as well as correctly measure the size of the electrical loads.

Overall results from the project will include the following:

  • A compilation of the current state of commercially available (or nearly available) NILM technologies
  • A laboratory testing protocol to provide a consistent benchmark for evaluating the efficacy of NILM technologies
  • A field installation guide (or best practice guide)
  • A consistent and repeatable analytical method for comparing NILM technologies to field monitored data
  • A comparison of the efficacy and performance of NILM technologies, as compared to actual monitored loads.

This research meets a critical need to evaluate the NILM technology’s performance before wide-spread market adoption can occur.

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