Using LED Strips to Provide Feedback about Electricity Consumption


I am a student at Middlebury College in Vermont, and I am preparing for a thesis project next year regarding electricity conservation in dorm rooms, and am hoping to set up a visual feedback system using LED light strips in a couple buildings that would indicate how much energy each suite is using. Ideally there would be an LED strip in the common room of each of the 12 suites that is controlled through wifi and represents the current electric usage.

The suites are sub-metered, and a great BMS is already in place, at this point it is a question of programming a connection between the kWh consumption data and the LED strips. It’s probably a long shot, but has anyone done something remotely similar to this, or have ideas on how it could work?


I don’t do what you are doing, but I can easily do this at my house if I wanted to with zero programming. However it would require the following…

1 - LIFX Z Strip $80
1 - SmartThings Hub $75-$99
1 - Aeon Labs Smart Power Meter $20-$40
1 - Installation of webCoRE in SmartThings

I would use a microcontroller with build in wifi to grab the data from the BMS then process the data and send it to the light strip. A $10 board can be the middleman between the BMS and the LIFX strip.

What level of programming experience you are comfortable with would greatly influence which hardware you use. There are many options from beginner to expert, and most are pretty cheap (Arduino, Raspberry Pi) with tons of examples and even some LIFX libraries you can find on this forum.

You can also get rid of the middleman and control a generic light strip directly from the microcontroller, which requires a little more electrical and programming knowledge and wont look nearly as nice as an off-the-shelf product, but places like have all the parts and tutorials on how to do it.

Thank you both. Brian, I have started to head in the direction of the Pi Zero W. I have basic Python knowledge which should be able to get me far enough to log into the BMS website and grab the current kwh usage of each suite and send it to an LED strip. Seems promising.