How do people pay their electricity bill? Most of them have a meter installed inside or outside their home which shows total electricity usage of the house & the cost of it. They check the bill & pay to the power company. Probably you use this system too.
Is knowing the bill only enough for you? Have you ever thought that if you have more distinct knowledge about your electricity usage then you can save some money on this? This is when you need to know about the best electricity usage monitors.
What is an Electricity Usage Monitor & Why Need It?
To know very precisely which appliances in your home use how much energy there is a device, known as Energy monitor or Electricity usage monitor or Wattmeter. This device measures the power consumed by total or individual electric appliances & calculate it in kilowatt-hour, mostly. Kilowatt-hour is the most common unit used for billing the customers.
Besides, it measures voltage, current, power factor, frequency, working hour, monitory cost etc. These are the basic features but electricity usage monitors can do way more than that. Many features are being added daily to improve the device.
Different Types of Wattmeter
There are various types of Electricity usage monitor available in the market. Most used meters are discussed here:
Plug in monitors: These meters have a 3 prong plug in them which goes to the electrical socket & an outlet where the power cable of the appliance is plugged & a display screen which shows the measured parameters. When the appliance is turned on, the current it draws also passes through the meter & it records it.
Smart-plug: They are like external sockets plugged in any outlet. It is associated with an app. When appliances are plugged in them, they can be controlled from the app in your smartphone. All recorded data are stored in the app.
In-home displays: An In-Home Display is a small electrical device with a touchscreen. It’s paired up with a smart meter to give you all kinds of data about your energy use.
Best Electricity Usage Monitor Buying Guide
When you go to buy something, we always try to find the best. You do not change your Electricity usage monitor every month, it is for long-term use. So keep these criteria in mind before buying a monitor:
Multiple appliance inputs: Some monitors can measure only one appliance’s usage at a time and others can measure multiple usages simultaneously. Decide which one is handy for you.
Greenhouse gas measurement: If you want to know the volume of greenhouse gas produced to generate power for the appliances, there are some watt meters that show them.
Customizable measurement periods: This feature gives you the ability to measure usage during a specific time period you want to record.
Energy usage history: It will record your usage data to give you an overall idea of cost & energy in
Kilowatt hours. Most companies use KWh to prepare your electricity bill. So, buy a monitor which measures your usage in kWh or the one your meter calculates.
Multiple rate tariffs: You can input different electricity rate for different periods to get more accurate bills.
Non-volatile memory: When a power outage happens using some monitors, all data is gone. If you don’t want that, look for one with non-volatile memory.
Wireless capability: This lets you take readings through a smartphone or display screen without having to access the main socket unit.
Our Recommended Best Electricity Usage Monitor
1. Poniie PN2000 Plug-in Kilowatt Electricity Usage Monitor
If you are on a budget & looking for a monitor with basic features only, this is the device you need. It can be operated by any person by connecting the devices to the power socket through the monitor. It can measure only one appliance’s usage at a time.
This meter has class-1 accuracy. So it can measure parameters like watts, current, voltage, frequency, power factor, the working time of appliances, electricity consumption cost with only 0.5%-1.5% error.
It can take up to 16Amp current but it is not advised to use more than 14 amps. Its maximum power range is 1840W. If applied more than that, it will indicate overload. It has a heavy duty extension cord to plug in the socket more conveniently but it’s too short.
There is a large LCD backlight display to measure in darkness. It can retain memory even after plugging out the appliances. Its outer frame material is full ABS fire Retardant. It doesn’t work for solar or power inverter.
2. P3 P4400 Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor
This is another option if you don’t have a high budget for a monitor. All you have to do is plug it into the wall outlet and then use it with any appliance to get fast results. It can measure a variety of parameters, including kWh, amps, voltage and more of a single appliance.
It takes reading with less than 0.2% error, that makes the measurements very precise. It can’t take more than 15amps current, so devices that draw more than that current can’t be used in it. If more than 1875 VA power is applied, the device will be damaged.
Anyone can use it easily because its user interface is simple. There is no extension cord so it covers the area around the outlet. Its display is small & no backlight in it. They can’t be used in inverters. It doesn’t keep memories after a power interruption. It can keep track of how long the monitor has been attached to the power source but not how long an attached device has been using power.
3. Etekcity WiFi Smart Plug Energy Monitoring
This is both cheap & smart. Connect the smart plug to the socket & then plug any appliance in it. The outlets connect seamlessly with your existing. The app shows full usage history of the appliances connected to the smart plug including kWh, amps, voltage and working time, cost & more.
More than 15A amp current through this plug can be dangerous. It can pair with Alexa & google assistant but not with Apple Homekit and SmartThings. It is easily operable through a smartphone app from anywhere. You can schedule appliances to operate at a required time.
App name is VeSync (available for Android version 4.0 or higher & iOS 7.0 or higher, to get the app just scan the QR code on the plug). It has some bugs, so sometimes it won’t run. If your Wi-fi bandwidth isn’t 2.4Ghz, smart-plug won’t sync with your smartphone. It is better for indoor use than outdoor.
4. Sense Energy Monitor: Electricity Usage Monitor
This system may seem expensive but it is a complete package for monitoring electricity usage of all the devices in your home. It has a complex design, so an ordinary person may not be able to install it in the home. But it can be installed under 30 minutes in your electrical panel by any professional.
This device provides you with data on your whole energy profile, as well as real-time usage of individual appliances such as your washing machine. It should be connected to the main distribution panel, so its current range is high.
It connects with your phone using Wi-Fi or Bluetooth Smart. It can integrate with Alexa or google assistant. It also can name any device & track their usage through its app & switch on or off any devices remotely. It is not suitable for shared apartments or sublets as it keeps track of usage of all appliances connected to the main line.
5. P3 International P4460 Kill A Watt
Its design and operation are much similar to that of P3 P4400 Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor with some updates. It can measure consumption by the kilowatt-hour, just as the local utility company does. It takes reading with less than 0.2% error, that makes the measurement very precise.
You can’t use appliances whose current rating is more than 15 amps in this meter. Its user interface is simple. At the touch of just a few buttons, you can calculate a device’s daily, monthly, or yearly energy costs. It retains memory after unplugging. It keeps track of how long the monitor has been attached to the power source but not how long an attached device has been using power.
Unlike the P4400 model, it has a backlight making it easy to read the data. Because of its design, it covers the area around the socket where it is plugged in. So you have to buy an extra extension cord to use the switches or sockets around it. Its display is large but viewing angle is bad.
6. FLOUREON Power Meter Energy Monitor
With this simple plugin Power Meter Monitor, you can make certain about the power consumption and cost of your electrical appliances, how much your standby appliances cost, what the power factor is, whether the appliances are really charged, and how long have your appliances been charged. You can also control your central heating unit with it.
Its response is very fast & no lag time. You will get readings as soon as you switch on appliances. It can save last reading & settings. The LCD display is of high quality but the view angle is bad making it hard to read from different angles.
You have to buy an extra extension cord to use it more conveniently. Its thermostat feature does not work well at low temperature & its functions are not easy to operate. Many data are displayed together in small digits, so you may find it difficult to find a specific reading. Also, the screen light is dim.
7. Ensupra Electricity Usage Monitor bigger screen
The Ensupra monitor will help you save money all around. It comes for under $20 which makes it a very affordable option, and accurately tracks energy consumption of any single device. It has a built-in battery backup, so it will not erase data if the power goes out.
Additionally, it shows how much CO2 was produced to create the amount of energy used. It is quite a handful to the people concerned about the environment. It also displays all the measurement simultaneously using multiline & energy consumption is displayed with 7 bars (for 7 days or 7 weeks or 7 months).
It can set single or dual rate tariff. But it is not very good for short time cost calculation. Its user interface is complicated & the user manual is not clear enough. So operating the device can be a bit difficult. Also, the screen is not easy to read because all the data seems congested together & readings are displayed in very small digits.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs):
1. Are Energy monitors & smart meters the same thing?
Ans: Most people think they are, but they aren’t. Smart meters calculate the total power usage in homes in a particular time period, its cost & sends it automatically to the power company. Energy monitors can monitor power usage by the devices.
2. Can I install a monitor on my own?
Ans: Most of them are very easy to install. For others, If you are familiar with your Electrical panel, you can. Otherwise, call a licensed technician.
3. Are Energy monitors completely accurate?
Ans: They are accurate about 97%-99%.
4. Does my home energy monitor send information to my energy provider?
Ans: They are responsible only for your information.
5. Can I get a free monitor from my energy provider?
Ans: Some Energy provider offers free monitors, but you should check carefully their tariff rate against the value of the monitor.
If someone uses an energy monitor properly to track his electricity usage & cut down the excess use then he can save up to 15% on his electricity bill. Assume your annual bill is $600, then you can save around $90 per year.
You not only save money, electrical energy too. We are facing a global energy crisis. Hence all energy prices are going up. Electricity is not an exception. Its price has risen up to 70% in the past few years.
It has become compulsory for us to reduce our energy use, otherwise, there will be a scarcity in the future. So get the best electricity usage monitor for your home & try to achieve that.