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Q: Affordable Electrical Energy Measurement Device ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Affordable Electrical Energy Measurement Device
Category: Science > Instruments and Methods
Asked by: lizardnation-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 30 Aug 2002 11:03 PDT
Expires: 29 Sep 2002 11:03 PDT
Question ID: 60284

I was looking for an affordable measurement device to plug in between
various appliances and house hold grade tools to measure how much
power they consume on a test run and be able to forecast their foot
print on energy expenses from the usage it goes through on average per
month and in diffirent seasons.

It should be user friendly, less scientific and more common consumer
aware. :-)

Hope the above it clear enough?

Subject: Re: Affordable Electrical Energy Measurement Device
Answered By: pinkfreud-ga on 30 Aug 2002 11:50 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello again, Lizardnation!

This is an interesting question on a subject that I'd been meaning to
investigate for my own purposes (ever since we got a $400 electric

Most power consumption measurement devices that I have found are
designed for scientific and technical use; these tend to be quite
expensive, and may be difficult to interpret. Their readings are much
more precise than most people would need for household purposes. I've
turned up several interesting ways that you can achieve your goal of
determining the energy consumption level of your appliances.

This is a clever way to measure the power consumption of an appliance
without using any additional device whatsoever:

Measuring Electric Power at Home Without Special Tools

This isn't exactly what you're looking for, but I include it because
it may be of interest, and seems like the sort of thing that could be
a real money-saver:

Home Energy Saver

There are many more energy-saving tips for the home here:

US Department of Energy: Consumer Information

And now to the real nitty-gritty: I have found two devices that should
meet your needs. Both appear to be simple to use, and are suitable for
the measurement of home appliances' energy consumption. Here are the
manufacturers' descriptions:

-- Brand Digital Power Meter --

"The Brand Electronics Models 4-1850, 20-1850, 20-1850CI and 21-1850CI
make accurately measuring the power (watts) and energy
(kilowatt-hours) consumption of 117vac plug in appliances a snap! It's
easy to use with "plug and play" connections, simple (optional)
programming, and, best of all, it's easy to use and inexpensive. The
Model 20-1850CI features an easy to use computer interface, and the
Model 21-1850CI (Logger) adds internal data logging capability.  Using
the meter is as easy as plugging in an extension cord. The meter
instantly displays the amount of power and energy the appliance is
using. In addition, the user may enter cost information, and the meter
will display total cost and predict monthly cost. The meter is perfect
for anyone wanting to track their electricity usage to lower utility
bills, size alternative power equipment (solar, generators, etc), test
appliances, education...hundreds of uses!"

Brand Electronics

-- Watts Up? --

"Simply plug any 120 VAC device into Watts up?, and the meter
instantaneously displays the wattage being used. The integrated six
foot cord makes plugging things easy, since you don't have to be right
by an outlet.  Watts up? has an incredibly fast response time which
enables you to "see the surge" of power when devices are first turned
on.  Even incandescent lights typically consume 25-50% more power for
the first split second.  Watts up? measures true power (including
power factor) which is what utilities charge for, not just RMS
Press the mode button and the display shows the cumulative amount of
kilowatt hours consumed since the meter was plugged in, or last reset
(resetting can be done without unplugging unit). Press the mode button
again and the display shows the cumulative time Watts up? has been
plugged in, so controlled experiments are easily accomplished.
Finally, press the mode button again and the display shows the actual
amount of money the electricity has cost. Watts up? uses a default
rate of 8 cents per kilowatt hour, or simply change the rate to match
your local area.

Any 120 VAC appliance can be plugged in. A 15 amp circuit breaker
protects against overloads. Watts up? can be plugged in for seconds,
days, or weeks. The decimal point on the 3 digit display "floats" to
display the highest resolution possible. For instance, in dollar mode,
the display shows a range of $.001 to $999."

Electronic Educational Devices, Inc: Watts Up? Electricity Watt Meter

Regarding how to choose between these devices, I found this post,
which compares the two, in a discussion group:

"The best power meter that I have used, is the Brand power
meter... I have the model 4-1850 (1850 watts)... and it is
on my AC output line, most all the time..... It is also sensitive
to low power loads... It costs more than the Watts Up meter... 
but I think the sensitivity is worth the extra money."

Renewable Energy Policy Project: PVusers Archive

I hope these devices will meet your need. If anything in my answer is
unclear, or if any links are non-functional, please do not hesitate to
ask for clarification.

My Google search strategy:

"measure" + "energy" + "consumption" + "device"

"power meter"

"watts up" + "brand" + "power meter"

Best regards,

Request for Answer Clarification by lizardnation-ga on 31 Aug 2002 04:59 PDT
Hello PinkF\freud,

The answer below does cover my needs, though if it can include devices
which do 110v and 220v at the same time, that would be great since I
use both. :-)


Clarification of Answer by pinkfreud-ga on 31 Aug 2002 10:19 PDT

Sometimes things that sound easy turn out to be not so easy, as I've
learned when searching for 220 V metering equipment.

Regarding metering of your 220 V appliances, I think your best bet is
to telephone or email Brand Electronics and discuss your exact
requirements with them. (Unfortunately, I doubt that they will be
available by telephone until after Labor Day.) I could call them, but
obviously I cannot describe your needs as well as you can.

I did find this statement on the Brand Electronics site:

"NOTE:  All models are available for different voltages (220 vac for
example) and maximum current/power rating.  Call for information and

421 Hilton Road  
Whitefield, ME 04353  

I've searched extensively, and have found no power meter that is
configured to be switchable from 110 V to 220 V, and which permits you
to plug in directly. I am assuming that you wouldn't want to strip the
insulation off your 200 V cords and clamp onto the bare wires.

Since most 220 V appliances (air conditioners, dryers, stoves, and
such) draw very heavy amperage, a meter that is capable of handling
this amount of current is likely to be quite expensive.

If you are willing to use the style of meter that clamps onto bare
wires, and if your budget is ample (over $1000,) I have a few leads on
220 V capable products that are designed to be used in industries that
work with solar panel generators and lasers. Please let me know if you
want me to pursue that line of investigation.


Request for Answer Clarification by lizardnation-ga on 31 Aug 2002 15:57 PDT
Hello Pinkfreud,

Thanks, the current answer and clarification is more than
satisfactory, I have persued communication with the company via


Clarification of Answer by pinkfreud-ga on 31 Aug 2002 17:31 PDT
Dear lizardnation,

I am very curious about this type of device; if you do purchase one,
and if you have the time, could you post a comment or two here
regarding your opinion of the meter?

Thanks so much for the five-star rating. As they say in the electrical
biz, more power to ya!

lizardnation-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars
Thank you for a very satisfying answer. :-)


Subject: Re: Affordable Electrical Energy Measurement Device
From: liner-ga on 12 Mar 2003 13:59 PST
I am not sure if you live in North America, but it sounds like it
since you mention 110 volts.

If you are not really interested in "legal" determinations of power
consumed, I have seen in specialty shops old electric meters that have
been wired up so you can watch the wheels go around.  Most of them
have been rather tacky lamps, but you get the idea.  The costs are
rather pricey for the finished toys, but you sopund as if you can do
the modifications yourself.  If so, you can find electric meters at
flea markets and swap meets for very low prices.

They work on both 120 and 240, obviously.
Subject: Re: Affordable Electrical Energy Measurement Device
From: mckojack-ga on 31 Jan 2005 19:40 PST
Thanks for the great info...I ordered a "Brand" today!

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