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Steeply discounted home energy monitors....

Post in 'The Green Room' started by woodgeek, Jul 13, 2011.

  1. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    I picked up a home energy monitor from amazon that is marked down about 80% from retail, $25 delivered:

    http://www.amazon.com/Black-Decker-..._m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_r=0P0NVH767F15E2CCG41R

    Basically a similar interface to Kill-a-Watt meter but hooks up to your power meter to read/integrate your whole house usage.

    There was a discussion here about home energy monitors last year, but we all seemed to agree that they were a bit too expensive for what they were: ~$150 for a simple wireless power meter for your whole house, $250+ for a multichannel logger linked to a webpage, etc.

    I just installed the meter. Seems to work as advertised, and I expect it will be helpful to read out power usage by major appliances that are hardwired--my AC compressor uses 2.5 kW, and the blower unit uses 0.5 kW. Cool.

    Both Google and Microsoft were fielding meters and associated web services, but I guess these were not big sellers and both companies announced they were pulling the plug last month. The result: you can now get meters marked down to 'salvage' rates, but the web-logging features will not work after 2012 (unless third party solns come online by then).

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  2. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    But does it work with a digital style meter?
    I have an older model TED (The Energy Detective).
    It's been pretty good, and probably goes on sale periodically.
    Early this evening, the alarm went off; voltage was 111! It's been preety low at times lately with the heat. What are the chances I'll get the utility to do something about it, lol.
    While I haven't done it for real yet, it's possible to take the current transformers off the usual mains leads and put them on the generator breaker input leads (at the panel) so that load and voltage can be read from the convenience of, in my case, the kitchen.

    That's a great price. Even if the meter gets changed at some point, it's only 20 bucks.
  3. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    I have a common electronic meter w/o a wheel--Schlumberger/Itron-Centron. The Black and Decker counts pulses from an IR LED built into the utility meter. The link describes which meters it works with.

    Not as nice as a TED.
  4. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    That is a deal. The BD is a re-branded BlueLine that I paid a hundred and fifty for two years ago. It does a good job. Put something over it to keep the rain off. If water gets between the sensor and the glass on the meter it throws it off. Otherwise it is great.
  5. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Thanks for the heads up. I just ordered one for $21 off of Amazon to have back up parts and a second display upstairs.
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Unfortunately it looks like our meter is not compatible. It has the dual optical port.
  7. fishingpol

    fishingpol Minister of Fire

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    Thanks Woodgeek. I am going to order one. I saw a similar one on This Old House and really liked it. I am also going to get an outdoor boiler reset and install that this fall. It claims to save 10 - 15% on heating costs by automatically adjusting your boiler temperature based on the outside air temperature. No more fiddling with the aquastat on the boiler.
  8. jimbom

    jimbom Combustion Analyzer

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    Thanks Woodgeek. I ordered one. For the price, you can't go wrong.
  9. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    They say $24.99 + 0 shipping but when you go to check out there is shipping? Can someone educate this Amazon novice?
  10. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I didn't realize it worked with meters without a wheel.
  11. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    I had the same issue--in my case it looked like it was going to charge me until the last step, and then it applied a discount that wiped out the shipping fee. Annoying and YMMV.
  12. mbcijim

    mbcijim Member

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    You must not be a PPL account then?

    My electric meter is all digital and can access everything, including day-by-day use online on my PPL account. Pretty good stuff.
  13. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Actually, you might want to call them on it. I had a situation that with every appliance that I turned on, I would get a voltage drop, sometimes to the point of danger/harm because of a low level "brown out". I had to call a couple of times because they would come read the voltage when nobody was home - little power use - voltage good. I finally convinced them to send a tech so that I could show them. They did. The fix was a simple adjustment to a transformer up the line from me. No issues since then.
  14. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    Thanks Woodgeek. I ordered one. I've been wanting something like this for a while.
  15. btuser

    btuser Minister of Fire

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    Couldn't resist.

    Now exactly why do I need one of these things?
  16. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Because it will make you crazy when the well pump, fridge and water heater all kick in at once. It is all right there in your face and you start seeing your bank account pass before your eyes. :lol:

    Actually the thing has done some good things for me. One time our electric meter failed. I reported it to the co-op and after they replaced it they estimated our usage. At six times what we ever use in a month. I had been recording the readings every few days and dropped off a print out of it. They adjusted the bill to meet it. The next time was when I noticed that the usage was going through the roof. Investigated and discovered that the well pump was cycling every few minutes. Not hard to figure out that the check valve on the pump 103 feet down there had crapped out and the pressure from the pressure tank in the basement was pumping the water back down into the well and it was pumping it back up.

    Hit the breaker and called the well service guys and sure enough when they pulled the pump out there was a hole in the side of the check valve.

    Without the BlueLine it would have been quietly doing that for a month or so before the bill came in. With the BlueLine I caught it the day it started.
  17. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    Hey, anybody out there use this guy (or the blueline) with the web gateway---do you just get crappy charts, or can you get data that you can download to a spreadsheet??
  18. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    I ordered from Amazon the Black & Decker EM100B Energy Saver Series Power Monitor for $24.99 incl s/h, arrived Saturday, installed yesterday, and it works as advertised. Easy to install. This combined with the Killo-Watt gives me new incentive to further cut electric use.
  19. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Both Microsoft and Google are abandoning the web applications so that gateway is a boat anchor for a very tiny boat.

    Now BlueLine is saying they have some kind of deal for smartphones but I ain't even gonna get a bunch of money tied up just for that to be abandoned also.

    My B&D unit I bought for spare parts arrived a couple of days ago. I put the receiver for it upstairs running off the Blueline sending unit on the meter and now have upstairs and downstairs displays.
  20. jimbom

    jimbom Combustion Analyzer

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    Mine, a used unit, came today. It is up and running. I am surprised, sitting here in the twilight, that the house is drawing 0.3kW with nothing running except two laptops. We don't have TV or any satellite boxes. The wife is out. The son and I are on laptops. Opps. The AC just came on for a 2.3kW bump. This is going to be a fun toy. Time to go around and find 300W of phantom load. Thanks again Woodgeek.
  21. woodgeek

    woodgeek Minister of Fire

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    300W is close to the minimum it can read--not clear you have a real phantom load that big. Could it be the fridge?
  22. jimbom

    jimbom Combustion Analyzer

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    Not the refer, I am in the room with it. Unless the door seal warmer is engaged. I will use the brute force method when the family is out. Breaker by breaker, then the Kil-a-watt meter on any circuit that seems to be using. We will see.
  23. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Have wondered whether the dial would spin/move when all breakers are off. Will try that, plus breaker by breaker, this next week when the wife is gone. She's really good about conserving energy use, just doesn't care about the technical side of it.
  24. semipro

    semipro Minister of Fire

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    Got mine today and can't wait to try it out.

    This will be great for monitoring demand versus time. Our utility offers a rate program where power used at night and on weekends is less expensive than the standard flat rate and that used during the day costs more than the standard rate.

    I should be able to adjust our water heater timers, programmable thermostats, habits, etc. now to see whether we'd actually save money with the varying rates or not. Our new GE GeoSpring HP water heater even has a control interface to disable it when electric rates are high.

    I wonder if anyone has hacked this thing yet to enable data logging on a computer?

    edit: found some hacking info here: http://undergroundsheep.com/Undergr...wer_Monitor/Black_&_Decker_Power_Monitor.html
  25. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    It will read 300 watts even in a power failure. I know. It has done it before for a week. Twice.

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