Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Off-Peak Power Outlet

Turns itself on when the power is cheap
  [vote for,

I'm not sure how global off-peak electricity is, so a brief resume first. Our house has two electricity meters: sometime during the night, a timer operated switch goes *clunk* and swaps over to a second meter which is charged at a lower rate.

The normal method of using this lower rate is to have a plug-in timer in the house, which turns on your washing machine, dishwasher or any other appliance which can run unattended and would benefit from using cheaper electricity. However these timers need resetting after a power cut, and can easily get out of synch with the tariff timer.

So you have a small box mounted next to your meter. To make it easy, safe and legal to install, it detects the output of the low rate meter with a non-contact detector, probably capacitative in nature. It then transmits a low power radio signal, either through the air on the appropriate frequency, or through the mains wiring. A plug-in switch can then be placed in any socket in the house; it detects the off-peak signal and switches on at the appropriate time. It might be sensible to have a random delay built in so that if you have several of these, they don't create a huge surge by switching on all at once.

This could be achieved by having a dedicated off-peak outlet installed, but that would cost serious money; would eventually turn out to be in exactly the wrong place; and would confuse the next occupants of the house.
English Bob, Feb 06 2004


       A nice and achievable, though a bit drastic, cost saving device.
ato_de, Feb 06 2004

       I believe the off-peak tariff is an advantage to the power companies also; they want to encourage people to use electricity out of hours, since it helps to even out the demand.

This should be inexpensive to bake; I would expect it to be cheaper than having an electrician modify your wiring. Mind you, most things are cheaper than that, so it isn't saying much.
English Bob, Feb 06 2004

       //most of my houses run off alternate energy sources//   

       Or, at least, you think they do.
Detly, Feb 06 2004

       That's what they want you to think. *taps nose*
Detly, Feb 06 2004

       I didn't realize they did this for residential customers in some areas. In my part of the US this is common for large commercial consumers of electricity like factories, and I've seen quite elaborate systems installed to reduce their electric bill.   

       Nice idea. The only (minor) downside I can see is in attached housing. I live in a multi-unit condo, and my neighbor's laundry room abuts my bedroom. They sometimes run their clothes dryer in the wee hours and it can be a bit annoying.
krelnik, Feb 06 2004

       I was kicking around a version that allowed spot market "bidding" on electricity by having a radio listen to the "power prices" broadcast and when the price hit the determined level it would turn on the appliance or allow it to be run... but I like this better in the ease of use department for sure.
DadManWalking, Feb 06 2004


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