Black and Decker Power Monitor

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When you’re a product reviewer, or run a product review site, there are times when you’ll get requests for products, many times in fact, and as you get more popular the more requests you’ll get. With these requests comes decisions, there are quite a few products I’ve turned down for review that just didn’t fit with the site, we try to focus on certain things and sometimes we get requests that are just not something that would fit with our site. The product I have for review today was one of those products, it was actually one of two that Black and Decker sent me in the same message, and I let the message go for a bit because I had to think about it to make sure it would really fit with the site. After some thought I decided that yes it would fit, it’s a gadget, it’s electronic, and most of all I think it’s something very useful and something that many people would appreciate seeing a review of.

The product is the Black and Decker Power Monitor, B&D isn’t quite known for it’s electronics, more tools and appliances, but the Power Monitor is a very useful device overall. The Power Monitor is basically a two piece unit, one part that attaches to your electric meter, and the second part that resides inside of your house. The idea behind the Power Monitor is to help you monitor your power consumption and adjust things accordingly.

Saving money is something that I believe we all can understand and probably something that we all would like to do, any way that we can cut corners and save some cash is most likely going to appeal to many people, myself included. Of course we can also look at it from the ‘green’ angle as well, using less electricity is obviously good for the environment and our wallets.

So I’ve got an unboxing for you, check it out and continue on:

Specifications:
Black and Decker Power Monitor

Power Monitor
Model # EM100B

SEE HOW SMALL CHANGES CAN ADD UP TO BIG SAVINGS
Black & Decker’s Power Monitor is the instant and easy way to help control your energy consumption.
This easy-to-use device tells you – in real time – the amount of electricity you’re using, as you use it!
The Power Monitor consists of two parts – a wireless transmitter that easily attaches to your electric meter, and a wireless handheld device that uses data from your electric meter to display information about your energy consumption.
Using information about your electric rates, you can track minute-by-minute changes in electric consumption as major appliances are turned on and off. Take control of electric bills and save up to 20% a month!

Features:
Displays electricity use in your home, minute by minute, in dollars or kW
Studies show families that use the Power Monitor to change their behavior and save energy can reduce their electricity bill by up to 20%
Easy to install weatherproof sensor requires no wiring and works with almost all electricity meters
Shows month-to-date bill and predicted monthly bill, helping households stick to their energy budgets
Also shows day, time, and outside temperature (wherever the sensor is placed)

Price: $99.99


As I mentioned the Power Monitor comes in two parts, one part that attaches to your meter and the other part that goes somewhere in your house. The monitor itself reads your meter and transmits the information to the base inside of your house. I’ve got a basic electric meter so the installation was very easy, just slid it over the glass and line up the sensor with the rotating dial and that part was done.

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One thing I do like about the monitor is that it tells me the temperature outside, this way my wife doesn’t have to ask me every morning what the temperature is, she can just look for herself, the monitor also displays the Time, and Day of the Week on the bottom next to the temperature. On the top of the monitor is displayed approximately what you are spending on electricity per hour, under that is an animated bar that symbolizes the spinning disc in your meter. Under the animation is the Tier # that the meter is set at, the Tier is the Tier of your electricity, it can be programmed for several billing styles. Some places get charged a flat rate for their electric, while others might get charged seasonal rates, and of course if you’re a business you might have a different billing system as well. You can program different things into the Power Monitor according to your electric billing. Under the Tier # is the approximate amount of your monthly bill, that is what you really want to pay attention to, that little hourly rate at the top is usually in cents and may not seem like much, but once you see the monthly bill you’ll understand how fast it really adds up.

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The actual physical installation process for me was very easy, it’s the next part that can be a bit of a pain, or a bit tricky. The first thing you need if the Power Factor number from your meter, most are usually 1.0Kh, and mine is, next up you need to determine what type of billing you have Flat Rate, Tiered Rates or Time-of-Use Rates. Once you know what type of billing you have you can then figure out what information you need to program into the power monitor so it can figure out your electric usage correctly. There are worksheets included in the manual to help you along and there are nice detailed instructions to guide you through the process. Depending on the type of billing you may have a bit of calculations that will need to be completed, and of course you’ll either need a copy of your bill or know what your rate type is. I can see where it might take quite a bit of time to setup, after you figure out you billing stuffs, then you can finally program the monitor, which, depending on your billing, can take several steps.

Overall it’s not too bad as long as you have all of the information at hand, and a little patience. In the end it’s worth it because you can learn, in real time, your power consumption and change things accordingly to help you save money, and maybe save a tree or two!</SPAN< p>

 


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Conclusion:
The Black and Decker Power Monitor can be a very useful and powerful tool to help you save money, it monitors your usage so you can adjust it accordingly to help you use less electricity and save money.

I’ve got expensive listed as one of the cons, only because it costs overt $100 with shipping, but really the money you can save while using it should make it worth the one time expense.

Pros:
Helps you save money
Helps budget your money
Monitors power consumption so you can adjust usage
Promotes going green
Includes time and outside temperature on display
Easy to install

Cons:
Expensive
Can be time consuming to setup

Grades:  
Overall score-9-10
Design score-9-10
Performance score-9-10
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  • John Frim

    Many communities are moving toward smart power meters that account for reduced rates of electricity during evening hours. Does the B&D Power Monitor allow the user to enter different electiricy costs for different times of the day? If not, the device will be outdated soon.

  • Kristofer

    Hi John,

    Yes it does allow you to fully program it for times of day rate changes etc

  • Fosty

    On question. It seems Hydo owns the power meter. What happens to the clamp-on device when Hydro decides your power meter needs to be changed? Do they remove the power meter with the clamp-on attached and toss the whole thing into to the truck, or would they remove it and leave it in your mail box?? The reason I ask this question is because in the past few years Hydro has come and changed my meter 3 times with-out notifying me.

    Regards

  • Djun Kim

    My only complaints so far are: 1) the unit causes radio interference, making it impossible to listen to my favourite radio station. 2) there is no interface to a computer, so I can’t do any data logging.

    Other than that, I agree with the points made in the review.

  • Robert Gerritsen

    Hi
    Thank you for the review.
    It is unclear to me if in fact it works with the smart meters or just the “dial” metres? Similarly, when and if Hydro One has a final date for implementation of their system, are you not to be able to monitor same through the internet (computer) making the unit obsolete? With respect to Mr. Frim’s question, the rate changes should become real time and could be impossible to program manually.

  • Allan

    Nice to this product going a little more mainstream and at a lower price. B&D has simply rebranded the Powercost Moitor from Blue Line Innovations.

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  • troy

    HI,

    I live in Ontario, and looked at this unit in Canadian Tire yesterday. It sells for $99 + tax. It does appear to work with the new power meters as I have one installed on my house. I haven’t purchased this yet as I just looked at it last night.

    Great review by the way.

    Seems expensive but would pay for itself quickly I think.

    I would like to know where the upto 20% saving comes from?

  • Don Broad

    What is the range, how far can the monitor be from the meter. Also if you have more then one unit can the transmission frequencys be changed.

  • Wilbour in Ottawa

    I installed the outdoor monitor in less than 15 minutes on the new smart meter. Our billing is quite easy since we have only one tier billing. One problem is in our region, if you use over a certain amount of energy over a set amount for the billing cycle, you pay a higher rate for that portion . This monitor will not be able to take this into account since we never know when the billing cycle begins or ends. The other limitations I see is the reading is taken in 30 second intervals so turning on or off items in the house will not instantly appear on the monitor. The smallest unit measured is 0.1 kw so turning off a light bulb may not decrease the current reading (you can use either meaning of “current” here). That said, serious energy curbing freaks out there who wish to shave every electron off their bill may not be totally satisfied with the limitations of this unit. On the other hand, the vast majority of us who have no idea how costly our dishwasher is, can learn a lot from this product.

  • Wilbour in Ottawa

    Update – It pays to read the whole instuction manual before publishing one’s review. I now understand what “Tier” billing is. We do have 2 tier billing and this monitor can accommodate this. The limitation is no knowing the exact date your utility company decides to start and stop the billing cycle.

  • roger

    found that the unit doesn,t work with the new smart meters

  • Tim – Houston

    For those making comments about smart meters, this functionality will be built into the meter, most brands are using the xbee wireless standard to directly communicate with a HAN or computer. They have even started making controllers for your house that you can program so that certain appliances can turn on/off at customizable points.

    If you are living in an area where they are implementing smart meters skip this product and look for something like I mentioned above.

  • Andrew

    As with Wilbour, I DO have the unit working with my Smart Meter in Kanata and am loving it. While the accuracy may change based on rate differences with the Smart meter (which haven’t been put in yet), it DOES provide a very useful link as to your appliances.

    I’m loving it

  • Suzanne

    Will this unit help solve the issue we are having that our Summer homes electricity is 2 times the amount per year than our year round home that has Air Condintioning. We believe that the meter is reading incorrectly and we need to try and figure out how to determine this. I think the only way is to determine the about of Electricity each appliance is using. Will this unit help?

  • Wilbour in Ottawa

    We have had the unit running for almost a month now and it has been quite usefull in detecting the energy hogs in our house. Our old stereo receiver was over a kilo-watt/hour…yikes! The cold snap is real hard on the batteries though, even with the recomended lithium AA’s. When the batteries get low the unit constantly goes to “SLEEP”. As the weather gets warmer they should last longer.

  • didier

    “is it possible to program the unit , to calculate by day the first 30kwh at one price, and the rest of kwh used at an other price(usually higher), and have the unit remake the calculation for each day?”

  • Gerry

    My sister has one of these on her house and her biggest complaint is that it goes through batteries
    pretty fast. Why doesn’t it have an AC adapter?

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  • David, Electrical Engineer

    Has anyone tested the accuracy of the meter? I spent a few hours doing so and found that it could be off by up to a factor of two. This is unacceptable for such a device. What this means is that the power displayed on the hand-held unit does not match what is being measured and recorded on the Power Company meter (and actually being used by the home owner). There may be a way to circumvent this problem by using an artificial Power Factor to rescale the measurement, but it would require a lot of patience determining what that artificial Power Factor. I’ll spend a few more hours evaluating the accuracy, but it seems to me the device is useless if it could be off by up to factor of two. Anyone else have comments?

  • Aaron Stevens

    If the power is off by a factor of 2 I would check on the meter to see what Kh value it is using. For example my meter is a 7.2Kh (typical) so if it were set to 3.6 on the monitor this would cause the reading to be off by a factor of 2.

  • C.M.Sanger

    This is a great product, but does have limitations. Check the manufacturer of your Hydro Meter as I have probably spent upwards of an hour outside in freezing weather wondering what I was doing wrong with the installation outside on the meter itself. It does NOT work with Landis-Gyr Meters. The name is printed on the faceplate of the meter.
    I was disappointed that I will not be able to use this Powermeter, I do think it’s a great idea and even if not quite accurate, you should be able to get a pretty good idea what your various devices are doing, especially with their Tare function….too bad I will miss out on this one…back to the store is where it will have to go.

  • David, Electrical Engineer

    I’ve tested the accuracy of this product and it is horrible. It could be off by up to a factor of 1.5 to 2 (the Power Factor/ Kh setting does not help). With this level of inaccuracy, the product is useless. To test the accuracy on your own, measure power consumption before and after turning on a room full of light of know wattage. For example, for a room with 8 recessed lights of 60 Watts each, consumption should increase by 8×60 Watts or 480 Watts or 0.48 KWatts. If your B&D power meter display does not increase by that amount, the monitor is not accurate. I’ve concluded that the product does not work on many of the types of electrical meters it is advertised to work on. Quite a scam if a lot people are relying on the accuracy.

  • James

    I got one of these monitors recently, and I’ve been testing it for a few days. Comments:
    Installation on my mechanical-dial type meter wasn’t that easy – the sensor arm is too short to reach the center of the dial, and it can’t be pushed down far enough to touch the glass. I did eventually get it to work by tilting the clamp-on sensor a bit. However, it doesn’t seem to read very well at low power – I think it’s missing the first 200 watts or so of power use. Below 200 watts it reads 0. Above 200 watts it seems to read additional power use accurately (i.e., if I add 800 watts, it shows 800 watts higher). This may be because the meter dial simply turns too slowly at low power for the 30-second update cycle of the power monitor. I’ll have to run for a longer time to see how accurate the accumulated monthly total is. It does also generate some 2.4 GHz radio interference.

  • Darren

    I have been reading the comments above, and thought I should through in my 2 cents. I have been running this for about a month, and so far, I am nothing but pleased! I can tare the current power consumption, walk into a room and turn on my heater, and in 30 seconds or less, see the exact power consumption appear on my monitor.

    with regards to David’s comments, he will never see .48 watts as the meter only reads factors of 100W, or 0.1 Watts. in the case where he has 8 x 60 watt bulbs, *assuming he tared the monitor before turning on the lights, he will likely see .5 on the meter within approx 30 seconds.

    The manual clearly states to enter the correct power factor. If you see that your consumption is always off by a factor of 2, this is probably the problem.

    Check out this link that I found tonight. I was wondering why mine goes into SLEEP so often, even though I’m within the 60′ range. Turns out that because of my cooler nights (east coast, Canada), my alkaline batts are likely getting low. Moving the montior closer to the sensor got it back up and running. I’ll be picking up some L-ion batts tomorrow.

  • matt

    I also was reading the comments above.To Dave,if the 8×60 watt bulbs are run from the same hot side of an electrical panel you would get a power factor of 2.Service meters are designed to multiply the highest line current of one of the two hot lines by two.For example,if one side of the electrical panel draws 10 amps and the other side draws 20 amps.The meter would read 20 amps x 2 x240 volts=9600w=9.6 Kwh.It pays to have a balanced load.All appliances should be 240 volts but power companies would be losing out on free money.

  • NoloComprende

    I wasn’t aware of this device until, in a recent electric bill, the power company (PPL Pennsylvania) warned these devices are NOT permitted ion the external meter the outside transmitter attaches to. That had me running to Google search to figure out what the fuss is about? So, why are such devices “illegal” (at least by PPL)?

  • NoloComprende

    When I read this B&D power usage was detected by infrared (reading the speed of the spinning wheel?), I thought, it in no way affects the meter so why would PPL care? If it used electromagnetic induction then there might be an argument against such a device as it could, maybe, contaminate the speed of the wheel, in effect, changing usage records. But Infrared? I see nothing sinister with this device. I do have a handheld Wattmeter gotten a Lowe’s you plug between a device and the receptacle which shows the devices Power draw. Informative is an understatemnt. Some things draw almost as much in Standby as they do ON. Problem is, Cannot measure 220V appliances.

  • http://www.business-electricity.com.au Business electricity

    Lots of tips in here; a great refresh even for the seasoned entrepreneur or small business. And its free!! Thanks Becky.

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