Wireless Monitoring Of Household Electrical Consumption Using Rfid Technology

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In todays’ growing digital world, the demand for energy is growing faster than ever. The world changing to a digital environment means that the demand for electricity is greater than ever and will always growing. The biggest challenge faced by the electricity generation industry is the efficient use of new technology which will always be a growing concern in todays’ fast paced environment. Monitoring and measuring the energy usage of household devices becomes important for households due to the rising cost of energy due to the rising demand in todays’ world.

Using RFID chips or wireless sensors and actuators for home appliances, one can monitor and measure the energy consumption via a real-time network interface. This project is for modelling and implementing a network of wireless sensors (or RFIDs) such that home user can monitor the energy consumption of electrical appliances (as a node) within the home environment which allows home users to adapt its usage to lower the energy cost.


Radio frequency identification (RFID) is a technology which works with radio waves that is used to identify or track objects. This is achieved through placing an RFID tag on the object to be tracked and can be found when in a range around an RFID reader. RFID is not a line of sight technology which means communication between the reader and the tag does not need to be in direct line of sight to the reader which allows the identification of multiple devices. .

RFID readers consists of 3 components: a microcontroller; RF signal generator and receiver/signal detector. The signal generator generates radiowaves to be sent and seen by a RFID tag. The receiver enables radiowaves to be heard and read from signals being transmitted from tags. To allow the processing of information, a microcontroller is used which would most likely be connected to a screening device like a computer.

 In comparison to passive tags, active tags have their own power source, usually a battery. This allows the constant transmission of data whether or not the tag is in the field of the RFID reader. There are 2 different types of active RFID tags: transponders and beacons. A transponder broadcasts a signal on their own, without receiving energy from the reader antenna. There are two ways that active RFID work. For the active tag to be “woken up”, the reader sends a signal using passive RFID which allows the active tag to send its unique identification number. In RFID based real time location systems, the tags can be set to send out a signal for a constant time period ranging from seconds to hours. This signal can then be picked up by a software which can calculate each tags’ location. [2] From this I have decided to use active RFID as it does not require a power supply and is able to constantly communicate data to the reader using the readers signal power.

Architecture of active RFID reader:

Figure 1: architecture of active RFID reader [1]




Controls the whole architecture, which is connected to the RF transceiver, to receive the data signal and sent it to a USB interface to a PC

RF Transceiver

Sends the wake up signal to the end device tags, and to receive the data signal from the end device tag to the microprocessor

LCD Module

It displays the value received from the end device tag, which is embedded within the electrical power meter


It generates a clock time period


Records and stores data: current; voltage; time; date; month?

USB Interface

A USB peripheral is also available on this portable active RFID reader which would be useful in exporting data read from the smart meter to a PC for further processing or monitoring.

Architecture of active RFID tag:

Figure 2: architecture of active RFID tag [1]



Current sensor

Detects electrical current consumption from the power meter

Voltage sensor

Detects voltage signal to the microcontroller which uses a basic voltage divider circuit


Allows communication between all devices and allows communication with electrical power meter through Zigbee

RF Transceiver

Used for wireless communication between the smart embedded RFID tag module and the reader

Display module

LCD module shows data value

Real time clock

Clock used to generate the integration period for the module


Records and stores data: current; voltage; time; date; month?

Principles required (so far…):

The power meter attached to the END devices will be used to measure electrical power or rate of electrical energy in a given circuit. This allows users to view certain parameters like voltage, current, apparent power, actual power, power factor, energy consumption in a given time period and cost of electricity. A fully functioning power meter will be able to measure these including some fundamental equations to power electronics that will be required:

  1. Instantaneous power:


  1. Active power (average of instantaneous power) :


  1. Reactive power:


  1. Apparent power (sum of active and reactive power):



V(t) : alternating voltage

VO : amplitude of v(t)

I(t) : current through load

IO : amplitude of i(t)

Φ : phase difference between v(t) and i(t)

ZigBee Basics:

ZigBee is a cost effective wireless technology used for controlling and monitoring. It is designed to meet needs including low cost, low power wireless sensor in control networks. Zigbee is intended for a simpler, less expensive than others includes WPANs such as Bluetooth.

There are 3 different devices that make up the basic ZigBee function including: ZigBee coordinator, root of the network tress that creates a bridge to different network and nodes; ZigBee router, acts as an intermediate router passing on data from other devices, and ZigBee end device, containing the basic functionality to communicate with parent node. The relationship between the devices allows the node to be asleep a significant amount of time allowing an extended battery life. From research, I have decided that ZigBee is the best wireless networking platform for me to use to send data from tags to the host.

Progress so far…


As a research heavy project, I will be constantly reading articles and reports which will give me an insight to methods of efficiently reading energy consumption and transferring data to a host system. From research an initial idea I have decided as the start point of this project is using ZigBee protocol based on IEEE802.15.1 standard with star network topology in sleeping mode function. ZigBee modules implemented into the power meter act as wireless sensors which monitor electricity consumption value on the power meter and transmits the data using RF signal to the RFID reader.

This is a single point to multipoint topology where remotes nodes can only send information to the central node for information to be received and read. Each device that the reader is connected to will be seen as an END device as seen below. The electrical power meter with embedded active RFID tag communicates with the tag reader at 2.45 GHz to support the wireless network communication (WSN) by developing a fully automatic and embedded system to monitor the data and ID. [1]

Plan of initial model:

Figure 3: Model of initial design [1]

I have chosen the star network as a start to the initial design due to its efficient communication between the end devices and the controller. As seen in the model above, I will be using a power meter to gather electrical consumption information from the device that it’s attached to. An active RFID tag will also be attached to the devices for heterogeneous data to be transmitted to the active RFID reader. The RFID tag stays in power up mode until a DC voltage is seen. When a DC voltage is generated, the RFID reader sends a radiowave signal to all the tags within its range which sends the readers address for data to be shared to and enters reading mode. This allows the tags to be able to send information until a ‘STOP’ command is seen from the reader. [5]

Work plan and Changes made


Gantt Chart representing project progression [4]:

The table above shows a planned progression of how this project will be conducted. It is split into 3 sections of what needs to be completed before Christmas, to be completed in the 3 week Christmas holidays and progression through Semester B. The first model is due to start after the Interim report and risk assessment submission and will be conducted through the holidays, working alongside the main report. This plan will be due to change as complications with getting the model working may take more time than expected however, I have managed time as this is expected in any design.

Risk Assessment

Description of Risk

Description of Impact

Likelihood Rating

Impact Rating

Preventative Actions

Damaging electrical components

When working with electrical components, risks like burning components is common.



When powering up components, research must be conducted on every components power ratings and their individual specifications. This will minimise damaged components which in turn minimises costs for the project

Illness during project development

Being ill can lead to work being put on hold which results in a delay in meeting deadlines



To be physically and mentally prepared when working on the project, the basic requirements for a healthy lifestyle need to be met. This includes good sleep, no overworking causing myself to be mentally weak and having a healthy diet.

Time management

Meeting all the deadlines following the Gantt chart alongside university modules is a challenge.



As part of my lifestyle, I create weekly timetables which gives me a guidance on what to be working on for the week, or weeks depending on the complexity of the required task. For this project following the Gantt chart, presented in my work plan, will give me a good guidance to when tasks should be completed by. All tasks will be completed to maximum accuracy even if this means putting in extra work hours.

Data loss/Hard drive failure

Carrying data on drives to transfer data between personal computers is a risk, from previous experience, hard drives can be asked to be formatted resulting in the drive being wiped completely, losing all files and data on it



From practice, a solution I use to transfer data on other computers is sending emails to myself as emails will never be lost, unless deleted. Methods include backing up data onto google drive or another external hard drive.

Incomplete project

The risk of the project not working due to data not being transmitted, or the RFID reader not being able to pick up the data will be an issue.



This issue cannot be prevented, however when a fault is discovered, it is important to keep trying and not give up, experimenting with other methods. To maintain my enthusiasm for the project, I will be constantly working between other modules as well as giving enough time on the project. This will give me a fresh mind-set when coming back to work on a problem.



[1] Journals.sagepub.com. (2018). SAGE Journals: Your gateway to world-class journal research. [online] Available at: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1155/2014/876914 [Accessed 2 Nov. 2018].

[2] YouTube. (2018). What is RFID? How RFID works? RFID Explained in Detail. [online] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ukfpq71BoMo [Accessed 2 Nov. 2018].

[3] Journal, R. (2018). How Does an RFID Transponder Work? — Ask The Experts Forum – RFID Journal. [online] Rfidjournal.com. Available at: https://www.rfidjournal.com/blogs/experts/entry?10567 [Accessed 16 Nov. 2018].

[4] App.smartsheet.com. (2018). Log In | Smartsheet. [online] Available at: https://app.smartsheet.com/b/home [Accessed 2 Dec. 2018].

[5] Microwaves & Radio Frequency. (2018). Extend Active RFID With A ZigBee Network. [online] Available at: https://www.mwrf.com/systems/extend-active-rfid-zigbee-network [Accessed 2 Dec. 2018].

[6] Ijera.com. (2018). [online] Available at: https://www.ijera.com/papers/Vol4_issue7/Version%201/U04701132136.pdf [Accessed 6 Dec. 2018].


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