This isn't the first time we have written about the Efergy energy monitor on our site. We featured a guest post on the Efergy Elite over 2 years ago! In that post I said:
With all of our posts on the TED 5000 and other monitors, I’d like to give space to the other options that are out there, and since I haven’t personally tried the Efergy unit, I’ll let a trusted source discuss them. I would like to hear if any other readers have tried the units and their thoughts.
Well...even though the author of that guest post arranged for me to receive an Efergy Elite 3.0 over a year ago (free of charge), I can finally say that I have now personally installed and used an Efergy Elite! I installed the Elite yesterday and it's working like a champ.
I have to admit that I forgot about the unit in my office closet due to a variety of factors including being swamped at work (I deal with energy efficiency for commercial/industrial customers during the day, so it's hard to focus on it at night!) and I was in an annoying position on my HOA board. When I found the unit last month I pulled it out of the closet and set it on the office floor. Where it sat. For a month. But now I'm off the HOA board and I have a little more free time to focus on the exciting world of home energy conservation.
If you've never installed a home energy monitor that installs in your electrical panel, it's not that hard, it just takes a little bit of time. Oh yeah, you should probably turn off your mains breaker unless you want to risk death, so you may want to do it when nobody is home (turning off the main power, not risking death). I finally got the chance two days ago and it was very easy as all you have to do is install two current transformers (CT's) around the incoming power lines. From an installation perspective, it's actually easier than installing the TED 5000 or the eGauge energy monitor.
There are two reasons why it is easier:
1.) There is no voltage tap (like the TED 5000 or eGauge), so kW on the Efergy Elite is calculated by an assumed voltage (usually 120V or 240V selected by the user). This isn't true power consumed, because true power takes into account power factor, but for the majority of homeowners, calculating power consumed using just current transformers is sufficient. To get voltage, on the TED 5000 or eGauge, you have to find an open breaker in your panel and tap into it, which adds complexity. If you want true power (measuring voltage) check out the Efergy Elite True Power Meter (which is just a bit more expensive).
2.) The Efergy Elite does not use power line communication (TED 5000 and eGauge do). It uses a wireless transmitter in the 433 MHz range. To install the Elite, all you do is clamp the CTs around the incoming lines, and plug the cord coming out of the CT into the transmitter. In my case I just let the transmitter hang outside of the panel after I screwed the cover back on (I just screwed it on over the cable leads coming out of the CTs). The fact that other energy monitors use power line communication doesn't necessarily make the install harder (as it is usually handled by the voltage tap) but it may add frustration down the line if the power line communication isn't robust (which is ultimately happened with my TED 5000 and what others have told me about their TED 5000).
When I first researched the Elite a few years ago, I thought the fact that it didn't come with a voltage tap was a drawback, but now I'm not so sure. Without the voltage tap, it's not super accurate, but then I had an epiphany: I don't care about super accuracy. I just want a dashboard to see if my energy consumption is outside of the norm.
I also worried about the wireless transmitter, because my electrical panel is in my garage, and since I live in a town home, my office (where I was going to put my dashboard) was two stories above the transmitter (even though it has a stated range of 230'). But this proved to be a non issue, as the dashboard works fine.
My one small complaint is that there is a 10 second time delay between when you turn an electric appliance on and when the dashboard updates, but this wont be that big of an issue for most homeowners.
Another complaint is that you have to buy another product (the engage hub) to send the energy data over to a web dashboard. But this isn't really a complaint as I like the pricing model to sell an energy monitor and hub separately, as it reduces the cost for those who don't care about sending their energy data over the web.
I used to think that the key to home energy monitoring for the masses was an in depth look at all electricity loads in the home and good data for homeowners to analyze and determine where they can reduce...but now I'm not so sure, especially after my first Opower energy report from my utility. Maybe the majority of homeowners just want a quick energy snapshot, because like me, they are running out of time in their day that they can use to analyze energy consumption and patterns.