Non-contact electric field sensing device

Integrates magnetic and electric field sensor measurements on any 1, 2, or 3 phase power cable


An energized electric cable generates low-frequency electric and magnetic fields that are related to the voltages and currents which can be read by many commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) and Government-off-the-shelf (GOTS) sensors in non-contact instruments. The electric-field (E-field) sensing team at ARL has characterized several of these sensors and found that none include real-time programming abilities for signal conditioning. Furthermore, there are no COTS or GOTS 1-wire compatible electric- and magnetic-field sensors.

Seeing this void in the market offering, Army researchers have developed integrated multimodal (electric- and magnetic-field) programmable sensors that are specifically designed for sensing the fields near energized cables. The multimodal D-dot (MD-dot) sensor addresses the primary needs and additionally has smart features that adjust integrated circuits (ICs) on the sensor during start-up based upon the electrical characteristics of the cable.

The device may be used for mobile power monitoring and energy auditing as it allows for voltage and current reading without service outage or electrician deployment. For example, the sensor allows for external monitoring of residential homes without permits or electricians for installation. The Army may use the device for health and status monitoring of tactical microgrids. The device measures power on multi-conductor cables, extracting current and voltage information for load detection, non-invasive monitoring of data across communications lines, and monitoring device health of systems and loads.

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