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The objective of this solution is to provide detailed data logging of power usage, while managing the ELITEpro XC Power Data Logger remotely from the office without having to perform a site visit to collect the metered data. Compared to a standard installation, remote access increases efficiency and reduces the overall project costs. ESIS will help you to learn how a 4G router plus the ELITEpro XC 3-phase data logger were integrated into an ideal remote power monitoring solution.

ELITEpro XC Power Meter

Photo courtesy of DENT

Easily Access Data Loggers in Remote Areas

A power company in Costa Rica has customers throughout the country, many located in remote areas. Often, the power company needs to perform a temporary study (energy audit) with a customer who reports electrical problems, such as excessive consumption or short circuits. The audits are performed using an ELITEpro XC power data logger at the customer site.

Because of the distances involved, it was important to develop a remote communication solution for the ELITEpro XC meter. Although the ELITEpro XC can be purchased with a Wi-Fi option, wireless internet is not always available at the customer site, and even when it is there, often the meter board will not be within WiFi range. Therefore, it was determined that cellular communications would be required.

To meet this challenge, Iotech, DENT’s authorized distributor in Central America, developed a solution where the ELITEpro XC was integrated with a cellular router in a weatherproof control cabinet. The ELITEpro XC meter was connected to the cellular router via the Ethernet port, allowing the auditors to connect to the ELITEpro XC meter from anywhere in the world using the Internet. Metered values, as well as harmonics, could be viewed in real-time using this solution.

ELITEpro XC meter

Photo courtesy of DENT

The control cabinet used was weatherproof and could withstand direct sunlight – adding an effective layer of protection to the ELITEpro XC and cellular router. Cables for voltages and current sensors traveled through separate conduits in the side of the cabinet. The cellular communication module was powered by an extension that entered through the side of the cabinet. 

This solution has benefited the power company by saving countless trips into the field to gather data from the energy meters. It has also allowed the engineers in charge of the audit to verify meter setup prior to the installer leaving the field, ensuring proper configuration and reducing the number of field visits.

In Australia this kind of installation is ideal for several reasons. The large distances between sites, and high costs of skilled labour mean that repeated site visits become very expensive. With the advanced capabilities and broad reach of our cellular networks, 4G remote access can readily be set up using industrial grade routers. Based in Sydney, ESIS regularly integrates 4G modems and routers with data logging systems, to enable remote access to data captured at sites around Australia.

Gaining remote access to a device via the cellular network is not the simplest of tasks though. Normally when you get a SIM card for mobile broadband, the telco will dynamically assign you a hidden IP address, which means your device will not be visible on the public internet. Hence if you use this to connect to your remote data logger, it will be impossible to connect to it from elsewhere on the internet. There are a few ways to solve this issue:

  • Request a public IP address from the telco, and use a Dynamic DNS service to track the dynamically allocated IP address.
  • Use a router that supports VPN (Virtual Private Network), and set up a VPN at your office using a static IP address, and have the remote router automatically connect to the office VPN at all times
  • Use dedicated M2M SIM cards with a “virtual private network” provided by the telco, with static IP addresses only visible to other devices using M2M SIM cards on the same network. This may require you to set up another 4G router at the office, using another M2M SIM card on the same network.

The solution you choose depends on several factors, but it’s always best to consult an expert to set up a remote access system like this, as there are lots of pitfalls for the inexperienced. 

Since 1971, ESIS has been a leading supplier and system integrator in the Australian data logging and M2M communications market. You can count on ESIS’ engineering expertise to put together a robust system that meets your needs.  

Contact us today to learn more about our wide range of power meters, or feel free to browse the ESIS website. 

Article courtesy of DENT.     

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