By now we all know the value of monitoring our home energy consumption, and one such product to help do that is the Black & Decker Power Monitor. I've spent a lot of time covering Energy Inc.'s TED 5000, so let's look at another option (and one that is half the price at $99).
The nice thing about the Black and Decker Power Monitor is that unlike the TED 5000 it doesn't require you to mess around in your electrical panel. I was able to get the TED 5000 up and running by myself even though I'm not an electrician and I was comfortable because I made sure to turn off my main circuit breaker (i.e. no power at all entering my home), but some people need an electrician to install the TED. With the unit from B&D you do not need an electrician because it uses an electrical "eye" to read your meter. You can find an in-depth review that includes pictures and videos of the B&D power monitor here.
The Black and Decker Power monitor looks like it is the same one from Blue Line Innovations called PowerCost Monitor BLI-28000. My guess is that B&D is brand labeling the Blue Line monitor. The only difference I see is that the Blue Line retails for $119 while B&D only costs $99! If it isn't the same monitor, then it looks like one company directly copied the other companies product. See the image below.
One of the Mapawatt team members had the Blue Line installed before he purchased a TED 5000 and here are some of his comments:
1. I had trouble getting the base station to sync with the monitor on the meter and my base station was one story up but right over the meter.
2. Several times it lost connection and then reconnected.
3. Two sets of batteries to maintain. (got tired of changing them on the outside unit and the base station)
4. Seemed to work well. I spent most of the time displaying KwH used instead of money spent.
I tried installing the Power Monitor at my house, but since I live in a townhome, my meter is on one of the end units about 20 yards from my home. I didn't think the wireless signal would travel that far so I didnt even try. It might have worked, but I was skeptical.
But the biggest flaw I see with the B & D Power Monitor is that it doesn't have any software that can do detailed analysis on the data, or serve it up to other sites like Google's PowerMeter. This is probably the main reason it is $100 cheaper than the TED 5000. But while this is a flaw for me, some people may prefer the fact that it is simple to use and doesn't require software.
(Mapawatt Note: Blue Line released their WiFi Gateway in 2010, so the Black and Decker and PowerCost monitors will work with Google PowerMeter and Microsoft Hohm!)
If you just want a power meter to demonstrate to you and your family how your home uses energy, then you probably do want to buy the Black and Decker Power Monitor. But if you want to do more detailed analysis with the data and look at your energy usage on the web then save up a little more money and buy a web-enabled power monitor. In any case, DO SOMETHING! Do whatever you think will have the greatest impact in your home!
Monitoring your energy is the first step you need to take to understand how you use it. Once you understand how you use it, you know how to conserve it.