A generic optimisation-based approach for improving non-intrusive load monitoring

Kanghang He, Dusan Jakovetic, Bochao Zhao, Vladimir Stankovic, Lina Stankovic, Samuel Cheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

36 Citations (Scopus)
58 Downloads (Pure)


The large-scale deployment of smart metering worldwide has ignited renewed interest in electrical load disaggregation, or non-intrusive load monitoring (NILM). Most NILM algorithms disaggregate one appliance at a time, remove the estimated appliance contribution from the total load, and then move on to disaggregate the next appliance. On one hand, this is efficient since multi-class classification is avoided and analytical models for each appliance can be developed independently of other appliances with the benefit of being transferred to unseen houses that have different sets of appliances. On the other hand, however, these methods can significantly under- or over- estimate the total consumption since they do not minimise the difference between the measured aggregate load and the sum of estimated individual loads. Motivated by minimising the latter difference without losing the benefits of existing NILM algorithms, we propose novel post-processing approaches for improving the accuracy of existing NILM. This is posed as an optimisation problem to refine the final NILM result using regularisation, based on the level of confidence in the original NILM output. First, we propose a heuristic method to solve this (combinatorial) boolean quadratic problem through relaxing zero-one constraint sets to compact zero-one intervals. Convex-based solutions, including norm-1, norm-2 and semi-definite programming-based relaxation, are proposed trading off accuracy and complexity. We demonstrate good performance of the proposed post-processing methods, applicable to any event-based NILM, compared with 4 state-of-the-art benchmarks, using public REFIT and REDD electrical load datasets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6472-6480
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Smart Grid
Issue number6
Early online date19 Mar 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2019


  • energy disaggregation
  • smart metering
  • NILM


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