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Reading Electric Meter with Raspberry Pi Answered

We have a meter outside of a building which displays how much energy the building produces (Solar Power) and pumps back onto the grid, how much the building uses from the grid, and the difference. Every day we record these numbers, and enter them into an excel spreadsheet, so we know exactly what the efficiency is of said building.

The issue is, is that this building is empty for most of the week, and driving to and from the building costs time and money.

So, the idea is that we have a Raspberry Pi connected to a camera photograph these numbers, and send them to us via email.

How would you have the Pi take pictures? Specifically, what camera would you use? The screen is a ~3cm x 12cm LCD display (Similar to an alarm clock display, no colors)
The clearance inside the box is about 10-15cm from the screen. The box itself is transparent, but we'd like to keep the camera inside the box, as the plastic isn't 100% clear (weathering), and it would also look more professional. 
The box is waterproof, but not moisture proof, so it would need to be outdoor rated.

Or is there some type of device we can put over the screen, and then have it copy what the screen displays?
The screen/meter itself cannot be tampered with, as it belongs to the electric company. 
This camera/device needs to be able to be sourced in Europe, and would be nice if it wasn't too expensive.

Semi off topic: Would it be possible for the Pi to somehow analyse the images, and convert the numbers in the pictures to text? 
Taking it one step further, would it be possible to have it automatically enter these numbers into a spreadsheet?

This display cycles through about 10 different "screens", of which only 3 are needed. Could the camera be used as a motion detector, and when the numbers change, it takes a picture? This would be repeated 10 times, so that every screen would be captured, and then the needed images would then be sorted out, manually or automatically.

If any more information is needed, just ask.



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Reply 5 years ago

I'll try and get one soon.

This one doesn't have a data port, but the electric company can view the data remotely, so to some extent, they can see it.

As for them having some type of data logging, I don't know, but I'll ask around and see!