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Multi-appliance power disaggregation: An approach

to energy monitoring
Alessio Filippi, Ashish Pandharipande, Armand Lelkens, Ronald Rietman,
Tim Schenk, Ying Wang, Paul Shrubsole
Philips Research,
High Tech Campus, 5656 AE Eindhoven, The Netherlands
Email: {alessio.lippi, ashish.p, armand.lelkens, ronald.rietman, tim.schenk, ying.z.wang, paul.shrubsole}@philips.com
AbstractConsumers increasingly want to make informed and
proactive decisions based on an understanding of their energy
consumption. However, current energy monitoring solutions are
either too limited in the information they provide or are too
intrusive. We consider a solution for disaggregating the electrical
power consumption of individual appliances connected in a res-
idential electricity network, with a single point of measurement.
We pose the power disaggregation problem in the framework
of multi-user detection. Two linear detection algorithms are then
provided to determine which appliances are active in the network
and in turn to determine their individual power consumptions.
An experimental setup is described that was used to evaluate the
performance of the algorithms along with simulation results.
Index TermsEnergy monitoring, Non-intrusive appliance
load monitoring, Power disaggregation, Linear detection algo-
rithms.
I. INTRODUCTION
Residential energy monitoring has become a subject of
recent research focus as consumers seek better insights into
their energy consumption and electricity utility companies
offer dynamic electricity pricing options. Increased awareness
of environmental impact and sustainability have also been
contributing factors to rising energy mindfulness. An energy
monitoring approach that has received attention is appliance
power disaggregation. This technology provides the ability to
recognize the power consumption of individual appliances in
use in a residence, thus resulting in consumption information
at greater granularity. Different methods to achieve this have
been proposed [1], [2], [6], [7], [8], [10]. These works describe
different algorithms to disaggregate the power consumed by
individual appliances based on a single point of measurement,
thus providing an inexpensive, easy-to-install and centralized
energy monitoring solution.
The concept of disaggregating power consumption of indi-
vidual appliances was rst described in [2] under the name
non-intrusive appliance load monitoring. The basic insight
behind this method is that appliances produce electrical
waveforms (e.g., current signatures), depending intrinsically
on their in-built circuitry, that additively constitute the total
electrical output measured for instance at the electricity meter.
Different signal processing techniques for disaggregating the
signatures such as edge detection to determine transient or
steady-state power level changes, cluster analysis on signature
space of the real-reactive power were described. Later works
have built upon [2]. In [4], [5], [9], different electrical signa-
tures that may be used in disaggregation algorithms have been
discussed, along with methods to construct a database of such
signatures. Algorithms and methodologies for disaggregation
have been further considered in [6], [7], [8], [10]. In particular,
[7], [8] consider signal waveforms obtained by sampling at
much higher rates (12,000 samples per second) as compared
to previous works.
The approach we take in this paper relies on steady state
analysis where observations are aggregated over a complete
period of the electrical waveform. In particular, a current
sensor measures the total current drawn which is a linear
summation of the individual currents owing through active
appliances corrupted by additive noise. We translate this into a
vector system model after performing matched ltering. Two
forms of linear detectors - Zero Forcing (ZF) and Minimum
Mean Square Error (MMSE) are then used to estimate the
active/inactive states of the appliances, and in turn their power
consumptions. We then compare the performance of the two
detectors in terms of error rates using measurements collected
from various appliances using an experimental setup.
The paper is organized as follows. In Section II, we describe
the disaggregation architecture and present the system model.
The problem of power disaggregation is formally posed in
Section III and linear detection schemes are described. The
experimental setup and simulation results are presented in
Section IV. Finally, conclusions are drawn in Section V.
II. DISAGGREGATION ARCHITECTURE AND LOAD MODEL
IN AN ELECTRICITY NETWORK
We rst describe the power disaggregation architecture. A
single sensor unit is located at a central measurement point
and monitors the total power consumption. The data is sent
to a central processor, e.g. a PC or an energy management
box, which disaggregates the total power consumption and
attributes them to individual active appliances. The sensor
could be a stand-alone device where disaggregation algorithms
run on a dedicated visualization device. Alternatively, the
disaggregation algorithms might be included in the sensing
unit, thus making it possible to use it as an off-the-shelf
visualization unit. These architectural choices depend on the
available connectivity solutions and the envisioned application
scenario.
2010 IEEE International Energy Conference
978-1-4244-9380-7/10/$26.00 2010 IEEE 91
Z0 Z1 Z2 Zn ZN
b1,k
b2,k bn,k
bN,k
... ...
V0(t)
itot,k(t) current sensor
i1(t) i2t) in(t) iN(t)
Fig. 1. Electrical model showing appliances in connection.
We now consider the electrical model describing the connec-
tion of appliances in a residential network. A well-established
simple model [2], [10] of the electricity network is depicted in
g. 1, showing the various appliances connected in parallel.
The utility meter at the residence is modeled as a voltage
generator and an internal equivalent impedance Z
0
. The volt-
age V
0
(t) delivered by the utility is, in rst approximation,
a sinusoidal wave with a time-varying peak amplitude that is
constant over a period, but may vary slightly across different
periods. The operating frequency is 50 Hz (in Europe) and as-
sumed constant. We assume that there are N appliances in the
residential network. The state of the n-th appliance over period
k is denoted by b
n,k
, i.e. b
n,k
= 1 if the appliance is active,
else b
n,k
= 0. An appliance is characterized by its impedance
Z
n
. The current owing through this appliance in active state
is determined by the normalized current signature i
n
(t) and a
root-mean square (rms) value A
n
. The normalization factor to
obtain i
n
(t) is the 2-norm of the current owing through the
n-th appliance. We can then write the overall current i
tot,k
(t)
in the k-th period as the sum of the currents owing through
the N appliances as
i
tot,k
(t) =
N

n=1
i
n
(t)A
n
b
k,n
+w(t), 0 t < T. (1)
The duration of the period is given by T (=1/50 s). We
assume that information pertaining to the current signatures
(i
n
(t) and A
n
) is known a priori and collected in some form
of a signature database. In the above, w(t) denotes the
additive noise component. We model w(t) as a white, Gaussian
process. The noise power is given by
2
. In practice this noise
component is small in residential power lines [3]. We shall
now proceed to derive a disaggregation procedure under this
additive, white Gaussian noise (AWGN) model. The procedure
can be suitably modied if the noise is colored.
III. MULTI-APPLIANCE POWER DISAGGREGATION
The disaggregation method we consider is inspired by multi-
user detection [11] encountered in communication theory. In
multi-user detection, the goal is to reliably detect the source
symbols transmitted by multiple users over parallel AWGN
communication channels at a receiver. Analogously, we are
interested here in determining the state of the appliances (1
or 0; cf. communicating bits 1 or -1 in BPSK [11]) using
electrical current measurements following the model (1).
We rst use a bank of matched lters by correlating i
tot,k
(t)
of (1) with i
n
(t) and integrating over a period T. Dene the
following components,

i
n,k
=
1
T
_
T
0
i
tot,k
(t)i
n
(t)dt. (2)
Dene the N 1 vector

i
k
=
_

i
1,k

i
2,k
. . .

i
N,k

T
, (3)
and an N N correlation matrix R with the element in the
m-th row and n-th column, R
m,n
, dened as
R
m,n
=
1
T
_
T
0
i
m
(t)i
n
(t)dt. (4)
Further, let
A = diag{A
1
, A
2
, . . . , A
N
}. (5)
Denote b
k
to be the N 1 indicator vector containing the
active/inactive binary (1/0) states of the N appliances in the
k-th period,
b
k
=
_
b
k,1
b
k,2
. . . b
k,N

T
. (6)
Further, denote the noise components
w
n
=
1
T
_
T
0
w(t)i
n
(t)dt. (7)
Collecting these into an N 1 vector, we have
w =
_
w
1
w
2
. . . w
N

T
. (8)
We can now write our system model subsequent to the matched
ltering operation in matrix form as

i
k
= RAb
k
+ w. (9)
Note that we assume that matrices R and A are perfectly
known, given our assumption of a perfectly accurate signa-
ture database. Our goal is to estimate the binary vector b
k
.
Different algorithms of varying computational complexity and
accuracy are available for this estimation. The performance
of the algorithms depends on the structure of matrices R and
A (specically how close they are to being singular) and the
noise level . We consider two approaches and compare their
performance.
First, consider the transformation

i
k
= 2

i
k
RA1 (10)
where 1 is an N 1 vector with all of its elements equal
to one. Under this transformation, (10) can be rewritten after
substituting (9) in as follows

i
k
= RA(2b
k
1) + 2 w = RA

b
k
+ 2 w. (11)
With (11), we can design a threshold algorithm to detect

b
k
=
(2b
k
1) which has elements equal to 1. With the states
being equally likely, an appropriate threshold is 0.
92
Device number Device type Nominal power Alias
1 CFL 20 W CFL20
2 Incandescent lamp 40 W Inc.
3 CFL 5 W CFL5
4 Halogen lamp 20 W halo20
5 Halogen lamp 50 W halo50
6 Living Colors 14.5 W LC
7 LED lamp 4 W LED
8 Hair Dryer 720 W HD
9 DVD player 14 W DVD
10 TV with ambilight 145 W TV
11 Water cooker 2200 W Kettle
TABLE I
APPLIANCES CONNECTED IN THE RESIDENTIAL NETWORK.
Fig. 2. Experimental setup used for power disaggregation.
We now consider two linear detectors. The ZF algorithm
obtains an estimate

b
ZF
k
for the vector

b
k
as follows

b
ZF
k
= sign
_
R
1

i
k
_
= sign
_
A

b
k
+ 2R
1
w
_
. (12)
In the above, the sign(.) operator works on the components
of the argument vector and determines the sign of each
component, resulting in a vector of 1. As is well known
[11], the ZF approach suffers from noise enhancement. Note
that ZF involves inversion of the correlation matrix R. If the
normalized current signatures from different appliances are
similar, the matrix R becomes close to being singular. Under
such situations, the ZF algorithm can perform quite poorly.
An alternative approach is the MMSE detector. Here, an
estimate

b
MMSE
k
for the vector

b
k
is given by

b
MMSE
k
= sign
_
_
R + 4
2
A
2
_
1

i
k
_
. (13)
In the above, we again encounter a matrix inversion. If we have
appliances with very large rms values, the matrix A would be
close to being singular leading to instabilities in the solution.
IV. SIMULATION RESULTS
We now describe our experimental setup that emulates a
residential environment where household appliances like TV,
hair dryer, water cooker, different types of lamps may be
found. The appliances are fed by mains that behaves as a single
distribution channel that delivers electricity to the residence.
Fig. 2 shows the experimental setup. An Agilent current probe
is used to sense the electric current. This current probe is
placed around the single core of the live or neutral wire to
sense the current value. The current probe operates at 0.1
V/Ampere conguration and it is linear within a high dynamic
range from milli-Amperes to tens of Amperes. The current
values are fed into a 24-bit National Instruments A/D converter
proving digital data input to the disaggregation algorithms.
The A/D converter runs at 10 kHz sampling rate. These
choices allow us to distinguish very small loads (1W) and
also to discard quantization effects on the performance of the
algorithms.
The performance of the disaggregation algorithms is inves-
tigated in the following way. We chose a set of 11 appliances
and use the demonstrator to collect the current waveforms of
the different appliances, based on which a current signature
database is built off-line. Table I lists the devices used, with
their nominal power as declared on the devices themselves.
Sample current signatures are shown in Fig. 3. The current
waveforms have different shapes, although some of them
are very similar, e.g., fully resistive devices like the hair
dryer, the incandescent lamp, the halogen lamp, and the water
cooker. Also note the differences in amplitudes of the current
waveforms of the various appliances.
Based on the normalized current signatures i
n
(t), we com-
pute the correlation matrix R calculated according to (4). The
entries of R are shown in Table II. Notice that the diagonal
entries of R are unity. In addition, R
2,5
= 1, R
2,11
= 1,
R
2,4
1 and R
2,8
1 indicating that the incandescent
lamp, halogen lamps, hair dryer and the water cooker have
highly correlated current signatures. This leads to R being
rank decient.
The simulation scenario we consider is as follows. All
eleven devices are active and the total current is corrupted with
varying levels of noise. We evaluate the performance of the ZF
and MMSE algorithms in terms of appliance error rate (AER).
We dene error rate of a particular appliance as the number of
errors in detection of that particular appliance divided by the
total number of realizations, i.e. the total number of times
the simulation experiment is carried out. We consider 10
5
realizations.
The simulation performance of the ZF algorithm can also be
compared with the theoretical error rate using the expression
[11]
P
err,n
= Q
_
A
n
2
_
1 r
T
n
R
1
n
r
n
_
(14)
where P
err,n
is the AER of the n-th device, r
n
is the n-th
column of the correlation matrix R obtained by excluding the
diagonal element and the matrix R
n
is the matrix obtained by
deleting the n-th row and the n-th column of R, and Q(a) =
1

2
_

a
e
x
2
/2
dx.
Figures 4 and 5 show the AERs of four specic appliances
- CFL5, halo20, halo50 and LC, with varying levels of noise
power
2
. The following observations can be made from these
plots:
(i) the simulation results showing AER with the ZF algo-
rithm match closely to the theoretical result.
93
CFL20 Inc. CFL5 halo20 halo50 LC LED HD DVD TV Kettle
CFL20 1.000 0.591 0.812 0.650 0.588 0.311 0.416 0.580 0.386 0.204 0.584
Inc. 0.591 1.000 0.642 0.951 1.000 0.524 0.499 0.999 0.543 0.750 1.000
CFL5 0.812 0.642 1.000 0.707 0.639 0.328 0.370 0.630 0.338 0.220 0.635
halo20 0.650 0.951 0.707 1.000 0.949 0.572 0.500 0.943 0.558 0.653 0.951
halo50 0.588 1.000 0.639 0.949 1.000 0.524 0.499 1.000 0.543 0.754 1.000
LC 0.311 0.524 0.328 0.572 0.524 1.000 0.497 0.523 0.803 0.454 0.526
LED 0.416 0.499 0.370 0.500 0.499 0.497 1.000 0.498 0.781 0.333 0.497
HD 0.580 0.999 0.630 0.943 1.000 0.523 0.498 1.000 0.543 0.764 0.999
DVD 0.386 0.543 0.338 0.558 0.543 0.803 0.781 0.543 1.000 0.413 0.543
TV 0.204 0.750 0.220 0.653 0.754 0.454 0.333 0.764 0.413 1.000 0.757
Kettle 0.584 1.000 0.635 0.951 1.000 0.526 0.497 0.999 0.543 0.757 1.000
TABLE II
CORRELATION VALUES OF CURRENT WAVEFORMS.
0 50 100 150 200
1
0
1
CFL20
0 50 100 150 200
0.5
0
0.5
Inc.
0 50 100 150 200
0.2
0
0.2
CFL5
0 50 100 150 200
0.2
0
0.2
Halo20
0 50 100 150 200
0.5
0
0.5
halo50
0 50 100 150 200
0.5
0
0.5
LC
0 50 100 150 200
0.2
0
0.2
LED
0 50 100 150 200
5
0
5
HD
0 50 100 150 200
0.5
0
0.5
DVD
0 50 100 150 200
5
0
5
TV
0 50 100 150 200
20
0
20
Kettle
Fig. 3. Current waveforms of the appliances under investigation. The x-axis represents time in samples; 200 samples correspond to one period T of 0.02s.
The y-axis represents the current amplitude in Amperes.
(ii) the MMSE algorithm outperforms the ZF algorithm.
(iii) for very low noise power levels, the AERs approach zero
without an apparent error ow. However at higher noise
power levels, the AER is above 0.5 which is worse than
making a random decision based on ipping an unbiased
coin.
(iv) the detection performance of halo50 as seen in Fig. 5
is quite poor. This can be attributed to the fact that the
current signature of halo50 is highly correlated with four
other appliances - Inc., halo20, HD and Kettle, with some
correlation values being unity.
(v) Although the current signature of halo20 also shows high
correlations with Inc., halo50, HD and Kettle, its AER as
seen in Fig. 4 is not as poor as that of halo50. This can
be attributed to the difference in their rms values. This
further suggests that a better understanding of the impact
of signature correlations and rms values on detection
performance, and its quantication, is required.
V. CONCLUSIONS AND FUTURE WORK
We presented a power disaggregation approach to energy
monitoring. Using current sensor measurements taken at a
single point, we employed linear detection algorithms to
determine which appliances are active and their power con-
tributions. We evaluated the performance of the algorithms
with real appliance measurements using an experimental setup
and simulations, and showed that their performance matches
closely to the theoretical one.
94
0 10 20 30 40 50 60
10
4
10
3
10
2
10
1
10
0
1/
2
(in dB)
A
p
p
l
i
a
n
c
e

e
r
r
o
r

r
a
t
e
ZFCFL5
MMSECFL5
theorCFL5
ZFhalo20
MMSEhalo20
theorhalo20
Fig. 4. Appliance error rates for CFL5 and halo20.
0 10 20 30 40 50 60
10
4
10
3
10
2
10
1
10
0
1/
2
(dB)
A
p
p
l
i
a
n
c
e

e
r
r
o
r

r
a
t
e
ZFhalo50
MMSEhalo50
theorhalo50
ZFLC
MMSELC
theorLC
Fig. 5. Appliance error rates for halo50 and LC.
Our approach assumed the existence of a current signature
database that was perfectly known a priori. We will investigate
disaggregation algorithms that are robust to errors or inaccu-
racies in this database.
The linear detection algorithms we considered in this paper
are sensitive to the structure of matrices R and A. We plan
to address this issue by considering successive decision-driven
multiuser detection approaches. This study will be a subject
of further investigation.
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