Recently there has been a commenter adding comments to our TED 5000 posts promoting a competing product: the Envi by Current Cost. The commenter links to a company that sells the Envi, so even though I assumed he works for the company that sells a product which he was promoting (and not disclosing that fact while he posted negative comments about a competitor), I allowed the comments to go through. Well, it turns out the same commenter may be going after all TED 5000 posts on the web! I subscribe to the comments on another blog post about the TED 5000, namely Tom Harrison's 5 Percent blog on the TED 5000 which have received comments which look eerily similar to those appearing on Mapawatt Blog.
There have been 5 comments on Mapawatt posts which mention the TED 5000 by the same commenter and they are below:
- "In my opinion TED has become rather outdated but it has gotten a lot of press. Check out the Envi, exactly the same idea but is actually more reliable and works better."
- "The current Cost Envi is available in the US from (company link deleted) they also sale Energy monitors for corporations."
- "I have read about the TED having a lot of issues with getting and receiving the signal. It could be something in your house like a microwave or your tv causing the issues"
- "$239.95 is a bit steep for me, the Envi, which I believe functions better is only $129. A much, much, much better deal. It is also a featured device of Google PowerMeter so you get the same functionality for a lower price"
- "I have read some negative reviews about the TED and the signal being interrupted by TV signals and other things. One that I have not seen mentioned yet is the Envi, the Envi is a great device manufactured in the UK where they have sold over a million. I believe it just recently made it to the US. In addition to it being more reliable the Envi is also less expensive. Something to consider"
So there is obviously some bias in these comments against TED 5000! It seems very unethical to talk bad about another product without clearly saying you sell a competitor. I will leave these comments up, but I will go back and challenge each and every one of them (which I should have done in the first place).
The comment on Tom's blog states:
The Envi is another option out there as well that I believe is better then the TED. The current Envi has the same features as the TED but at a lower cost, in addition to this the EnviR that is coming out soon has the ability to monitor water and gas usage
To which Tom replied (Mapawatt Note: I've added the bold formatting):
What a surprise that you feel this way, given that the link your submitted was to a company that just happens to sell the Envi.
So rather than just delete as spam, I have an alternative, which is to give my honest review of the Envi.
So I have used the Envi (I have one which I installed in my home specifically for review). I found the display difficult to read. There’s a lot more information than is needed. The price is OK, but for $30 less you could get a BlueLine or Black & Decker monitor, both of which don’t involve connections in the power box. A minor quibble of the Envi is that because it reads only current, it needs to make assumptions about voltage in order to correctly calculate Watts — but voltage varies throughout the day, and I found mine read about 5% to 10% lower than what was being consumed at the moment. It’s not a big deal.
The notion that Envi supports Google PowerMeter is a little specious until the network bridge device you mention is released — to upload to Google PowerMeter with the Envi alone, you would have to run the USB cable from where ever the monitor is plugged in to your computer, then (assuming it’s a Windows computer) install software that uploads data to Google.
To get a continuous report (which is the only thing that really makes Google PowerMeter useful), you need to make sure to do this every few days, or, just leave the computer on all the time. Needless to say, having to have a computer on all the time isn’t exactly aligned with the idea of saving energy. The real solution is, indeed, the network connection. My issue with that is that this extra component will raise the price of the unit — not sure how much but let’s say $179 (I think I saw someone selling the package for around that price). For this price, you get a device that’s not accurate, has a bad display, needs to be plugged in (no batteries), and requires installation at the breaker panel.
Just not sure this is an option that’s worth the extra money.
In order for the Envi to work with PowerMeter, you need the following (which is sold by PowerSave for $169.00):
- 1 Display with power supply (white or black)
- 2 CT clamps
- 1 large transmitter with 7 year battery life
- 1 USB Cable
- 1 Web Bridge (Will ship separately September 2010)
- Installation manual
Now, I will not that Tom Harrison does have some bias (he is currently CTO of Energy Circle who sold the TED 5000 at one point but now sells the BlueLine PowerCost monitor). But I know Tom (through the web) and I know his blog and everything I've ever seen him do is honest. I myself am a little biased, because I own a TED 5000 (and I don't own an Envi) and I have one of the highest rated blogs for the topic "TED 5000". But I don't go around to other blog posts and talk bad about them while promoting my own product (and neither does Tom). It is one thing to review a product and point out its flaws. It is another to point out a product's flaws for the purpose of promoting your own product.
So is the Envi better than the TED 5000? I'm not so sure. It is a tad less expensive, but the TED 5000 supports Google PowerMeter out of the box AND measures voltage (the Envi just assumes voltage). It may cost a little more, but it may also be a better solution. I'll wait until I see some non-biased analysis before I declare a final verdict!
***Update 8/26/10 - After publishing this post, another reader who I trust sent in these comments on their experience with the Envi:
I read your post about the current cost and quite frankly I applaud anyone who cares enough to go out and buy any energy monitor including the current cost. This being said, you really should go out and try one if your want to report on it in your blog. The unit uses a voltage set point that is not adjustable so it is grossly inaccurate. I have one and it runs from 15 -18% low of what my actual consumption really is. Since I cannot increase the voltage set point, I cannot make it any more accurate. If you unplug the display to take a reading on something in another room, the display goes dead. This means that, unlike the TED, you have to take the Current Cost power supply with you and plug it back in wherever you go. Google Powermeter capable is but a mirage until they have their promised accessory that remains delayed.
Based on the comments of people who have used the Current Cost, it's hard to say that it may be better than TED 5000....