Computing stuff tied to the physical world

Measurement anomalies

In Software on Feb 7, 2009 at 02:38

Here’s a more detailed view of the measurement quirks related to gas consumption:

Picture 1.png

The yellowish line is electricity usage, which hovers around 200 watt, while the blue line is the calculated gas consumption. What happens is that the heater cycles on and off approximately once every 15 minutes. When off, no gas is consumed so the meter just stops providing pulses. Then, after roughly 10 minutes it starts again at our heater’s standard rate of around 1.5 m3/hr. If you look very closely, you can see that the “zero” values are actually just above zero. That’s because whatever gas flowed until the rotation stops and whatever gas flows right after it starts all gets averaged-out over the entire period.

What needs to be done, I think, is to re-interpret the long averaged-out period as a period of continued flow at the original full rate, followed by zero flow:

Picture 3.png

I.e. the incoming data was treated as the single-hatched “B”, whereas it should be treated as the cross-hatched bar “A”. Both areas are the same.

Actually, this is not 100% accurate since we don’t know whether the meter stopped near the beginning or near the end of its revolution. But there is simply not enough information in the gas measurement data to disambiguate these cases.

However… as you can see, the electricity consumption also has some surprisingly regular small changes. Those measurements suffer from the same problem, but they have a much smaller impact due the the higher measurement rate. My hunch is that these small wattage changes are actually the electricity consumption of the heater, as it turns on and off!

But hey, who cares for now – these are just instant-by-instant consumption rates. The integral of these rates is the total consumption, and those are by definition “accurate” since I’m measuring the very same metering revolutions which the electricity and gas company use to charge me later on.

Update – Here are the results with the above adjustments:

Picture 1.png