The LPG cylinder enters the IOT era
This week we hooked up the LPG cylinder (used for cooking) at my house to the internet. High time these cylinders smarten up and communicate with the consumer and the utility company by themselves.
Continuous tracking of LPG consumption has some real benefits.
– Inform the consumer and if possible the utility company when a cylinder is running low on LPG. I know most ladies and elderly people do not want to change cylinders since they are heavy (around 30 Kgs when full). If they know that a cylinder is about to go low on gas, they can have it replaced when someone (who can replace the cylinder) is around.
– Leakage detection (especially when the cylinder is kept outside the house)
– Theft detection
– Automatic switch over from one cylinder to another using electronic/pneumatic valves.
LPG consumption can be easily tracked by monitoring the weight of the cyclinder. We did this by putting a load cell below the cylinder. In our demo, the load cell is connected to a WiSense node. This node is sending the weight information every minute to a coordinator node (connected to a Raspberry Pi) inside the house. The Raspberry Pi is connected to a DSL modem (my internet connection). The setup has been running for around 3 days now. The Raspberry Pi is sending the weight data to Xively. You can take a look at the weight info here – https://xively.com/feeds/379406804.
We got the load cell from Epoch instruments (Bangalore). This load cell has a resolution of a few grams and has been able to accurately track LPG consumption over 3.5 days. There is no drift (see flat lines in between).
I want to plug our smart community concept here. These “smart” cylinders can be hooked up to our community wide WiSense mesh network so that we can avoid having a gateway in each house within the community This community wide mesh network will have one or two gateways to send data to a local server within the community and/or the internet.
Here are some pics of the setup.
Pic below shows the cylinder kept outside the house. It is actually kept in an enclosure but I took it out for the demo.
In the pic below, you can see the load cell below the cylinder (two wood planks screwed to the load cell provide a stable platform for the cylinder).
Pic below shows a WiSense node (with antenna) and the amplifer/ADC board connected to the load cell. The node and the associated electronics is running on two AAA batteries (2×1.5v).
Finally (below), the coordinator node connected to a Raspberry Pi (over USB). The Pi is connected to a DSL router.