Currently, several companies actively market substation monitoring solutions that include wireless power line sensors, a gateway/receiver, and application software. These line mount sensors harvest energy from the magnetic fields induced by the AC power line. Typically, they are capable of measuring the power line current and they communicate over 2.4 GHz radio, cellular, or Wifi networks. Our project will improve upon these products by featuring a battery in case of power outages, on-chip current and temperature monitoring to detect faults and monitor power quality, and communication over LP-WAN rather than power-intense cellular or Wifi networks. Also, as all of these sensors are mounted on the line, they provide no information about the state of the utility pole.
In order to determine the structural integrity of a utility pole, currently utility companies are required to send technicians to assess each individual pole. Methods of assessment include visual inspection, sounding and boring, and Resistograph testing. Many poles are simply visually inspected by a technician for signs of decay, cracks, and insect or bird damage. Sounding and boring requires a technician to strike the pole with a hammer and listen to the resulting tone, whereas boring requires a hole to be bored into the pole to look for decay. The very act of boring can compromise the integrity of a pole. Resistograph testing involves drilling a small hole and measuring the resistance of the wood to the drill. Our project will greatly improve on these methods by allowing remote monitoring of pole status.