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 and the cost of it. They check the bill and pay the power company. Probably you use this system too.
Is knowing the bill enough for you? Have you ever thought that if you have more detailed knowledge about your electricity usage that you can save some money? Electricity usage monitors give you this information.
What is an Electricity Usage Monitor and Why is it Needed?
To know exactly which appliances in your home use how much energy, there is a device, known as Energy monitor or Electricity usage monitor or Watt-meter. This device measures the power consumed by total or individual electric appliances and calculates it in kilowatt-hours, the most common unit used for billing the customers.
The electricity usage monitor measures voltage, current, power factor, frequency, working hour, monitory cost etc. Many features are being added daily to improve the device.
Different Types of Monitors
There are various types of electricity usage monitor available on the market. Most used meters are discussed here:
Plug in monitors: These meters have a 3 prong plug which plugs into the electrical socket, an outlet where the power cable of the appliance is plugged in, and a display screen which shows the measured units of power used. When the appliance is turned on, the current it draws also passes through the meter and is recorded.
Smart-plugs: These are like external sockets plugged into any outlet, yet connected to a phone app. When appliances are plugged in, they can be controlled from the app on 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 with a smart meter to give you all kinds of data about your energy use.
Best Electricity Usage Monitor Buying Guide
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 best 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 this.
Customizable measurement periods: This feature gives you the ability to measure usage during a specific time period.
Energy usage history: This will record your usage data to give you an overall idea of cost and 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 a different electricity rate for different periods to produce more accurate bills.
Non-volatile memory: When a power outage happens, data can be erased from some monitors. 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 accessing 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 and looking for a monitor with basic features only, this is the device you need. It can be operated by anyone 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 16 Amp 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, although it may be too short.
There is a large LCD back light 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 a solar or power inverter.
2. P3 P4400 Kill A Watt Electricity Usage Monitor
This is another option if you want a budget friendly monitor. All you have to do is plug it into the wall outlet and then use it with any appliance for quick results. It can measure a variety of parameters, including kWh, amps, voltage and more on a single appliance.
It takes readings with less than 0.2% error, making the measurements very precise. It can’t take more than 15 amps current, so devices that draw more 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 and has no back light. It can’t be used in inverters. It doesn’t keep memory after a power interruption. It will 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 inexpensive and smart. Connect the smart plug to the socket and then plug any appliance in it. The outlets connect seamlessly. The app shows full usage history of the appliances connected to the smart plug including kWh, amps, voltage and working time, cost and more.
More than 15A amp current through this plug can be dangerous. It can pair with Alexa and 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 and 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, this 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 I recommend that an electrician install it. It can be installed in under 30 minutes in your electrical panel.
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 and track usage through its app and 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, which 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. You will need an extra extension cord to use the switches or sockets around it. Its display is large but viewing angle is poor.
6. FLOUREON Power Meter Energy Monitor
With this simple plugin power meter monitor, you can be certain of your 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 your appliances been charging. You can also control your central heating unit with it.
Its response is very fast. You will get readings as soon as you switch on appliances. It can save last reading and settings. The LCD display is high quality but the view angle is poor, 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 and 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 with Bigger Screen
The Ensupra monitor will help you save money all around. It sells 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, a benefit to those concerned about the environment. It displays all the measurements simultaneously using multiline and energy consumption.
It can set single or dual rate tariff. But it is not very good for short time cost calculation. Its user interface is complicated and the user manual is not clear. Therefor, operating the device can be a bit difficult. Also, the screen is not easy to read because all the data seems combined together and the readings are displayed in very small digits.
Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs):
1. Are energy monitors and smart meters the same thing?
Ans: Most people think they are, but they aren’t. Smart meters calculate the total power usage and its cost in homes in a particular time period, and sends it automatically to the power company. Energy monitors can monitor power usage by each device.
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 within 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 and subsequently cuts back on excess usage, then he can save up to 15% on his electricity bill. Assuming your annual bill is $600, then you can save around $90 per year.
You not only save money, but electricity as well. We are facing a global energy crisis. Hence all energy prices are going up. Electricity is not an exception. Its price has risen nearly 70% in the past few years.
It has become necessary 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 and try to achieve that.