Inspiration Electricity is one of the major drivers of the economy. In fact, it is identified as one of the prime movers of the modern sector of the economy in Kenya’s vision 2030. Currently the Kenya power and lightning company has no efficient method of monitoring the illegal tapping of electricity. The company depends on the goodwill of people to inform them if a neighbour is stealing power. This leads to people not bothering to report the crime because they also beginning to depend on it. According to (R, 2009), commercial or non-technical losses accounts for more than 1% of the electricity use around the world. The dominant component of these losses is electricity theft. In some countries this is in the range of or far exceeding the technical losses in the transmission and distribution of electricity. Amounts of unbilled electricity may completely disturb the normal process of regulation of electricity distribution. It is also a moral problem that the energy conservation efforts of one group are wasted by others. Theft is not only a major reason for frequent power interruptions, but the financial loss occurring from theft also does not allow KPLC to improve upon its distribution system hence aggravating the problem of blackouts causing a great deal of inconveniences to customers.
What it does The system monitors the flow of electricity and makes a judgement whether there is theft/tapping going on and contact the authorities or not all-in real time. This is done with the use of Arduino uno and other sensors. The limitation is that the parts required to create a prototype were difficult to acquire and the possibility of vandals destroying the system, it also may be difficult to maintain depending on the location.
How we built it
At the beginning of the system development, there was the need to identify what component would need to be used in order for the proper functioning of the system. The main components that were needed were: The current sensor, relay switch, GSM module, LCD screen, and lastly the Arduino board itself.
Each of the components above play a vital role in the proper functioning of the system. The current sensor for starters is involved in the measurement of the AC current. The sensor used is the ACS712 5A, this sensor uses the hall effect meaning that any current passing through it will create a voltage proportional to the current. It is able to measure both AC and DC but in this case AC current was used. This module was chosen for its precision. The next module is the relay switch that the user interacts with when over-loading has been detected. The user will manually have to reset this when they come to fix the over-loading issue. It is set-up in such a way that promotes security i.e., the system cannot function when it is removed thus preventing tampering. The GSM module is responsible for sending the information to the user when over-loading is detected. It receives this information from the Arduino board that is in charge of managing all processes. The LCD is a simple addition to display the current voltage and make life easier for the user when they do not have access to a computer. The system runs in real time displaying and reporting information as it comes in for maximum efficiency.
Challenges we ran into The main challenge during the development of the system was finding a way in which electricity theft could be reported without anyone being harmed in any way. This was one of the main priorities of the system. Thus the system was built in order to remotely report theft with no human interaction.
Accomplishments that we're proud of In the course of the development of the system, it was found out that ensuring the safety of those around the device was paramount. This is to prevent the unfortunate incidents for example, fires. In the process of finding out the safety features to implement it was found that using a relay was the best course of action. This relay provided security in that the current would not pass through if the device is tampered with.
What we learned For the Electricity theft prevention system to properly work the devices used by the users of the system while accessing the system are required to have a strong connection to a network and have their location turned on. This is because the GSM technology that shall be used in the system requires an environment with a stable connection for it to be able to send the information.
What's next for ELECTRICITY THEFT DETECTION SYSTEM USING ARDUINO Despite this research aiming to solve the problem of electricity theft, sourcing more in-depth information about how the Kenyan grid was challenging, thus not all areas that could have potentially been covered have been covered. Therefore, the future work to enhance the research can involve the seamless integration of the developed system with the Kenya Power and Lighting grid system. This would eliminate the need of the GSM module which as stated above may not work in certain regions in Kenya. Having the developed project integrated could provide much more information to KPLC than having it separate from their system.