Mapawatt has personally tested this product and we purchased it. Click here for our blog post on the installation of the TED 5000, which was written in July of 2009.
We recommend this product for those who have a basic understanding of electricity and installing electrical products. If you don't, then you need to hire an electrician or look at a home energy monitor that does not install in your home's electrical panel, like the Blue Line PowerCost Monitor or Wattvision.
Inital complaints on the comments from our blog post and from around the web focused on two main areas: the quality of the manufacturing on the display unit (a.k.a. cheap) and issues with the powerline communication.
On the unit we tested we opted for the display unit, which was very flimsy and broke after a few months. We originally recommended purchasing this, but after it broke and in speaking with other TED 5000 users, we recommend purchasing the TED 5000 without the display unit. This will save you $40, but you will have to log into the software to view your electrical usage. Some prefer this, but for others, especially if you are purchasing a home energy monitor for your family to visualize energy consumption, this could be a no-go. Quality on the display units may have improved from our original installation review.
The other issue has to do with how the TED 5000 gets your energy consumption (or production if you have solar panels or a wind turbine) data from the electrical panel to your computer, which is over your home's existing electrical wiring. On the excellent support section of the TED 5000 website, they have a document titled Guide to Powerline Carrier (PLC) or MTU to Gateway transmission. From that document (as an example of how installation can be a little tricky):
Use the provided plug-in noise filters on as many devices as possible that are plugged into the Gateway/router circuit (router, modem, computer, printer, fax, power strip powering various electronics, television, etc.). DO NOT PLUG THE GATEWAY INTO A NOISE FILTER. Be sure that the Gateway is plugged directly into an outlet and not into a power-strip or anything of that nature.
UPS Battery backup(s). Having a UPS or any other type of battery backup system on the same circuit as the Gateway will negatively affect the signal between the MTU(s) and Gateway. Typically having a plug-in filter on these items will cancel them out as a source of interference.
To successfully communicate from the MTU(s) to the Gateway, the MTU’s black wire will need to be either connected directly to the Gateway circuit breaker, or connected on the same PHASE as the Gateway circuit. If the option of connecting the black wire directly to the Gateway circuit breaker is available, then do so, as this is the best possible configuration for the system. If this option is not available, the MTU will still need powered as shown in video number four above, but it will simply be powered from a circuit that is on the same PHASE as the Gateway circuit.
Along with ensuring there is little electrical "noise" on the Gateway, another communication issue happens with other powerline communication technologies that may be on your home's electrical system. We have read several issues regarding the TED PLC and other PLC technologies, like X10. You can read about a TED 5000 user who was having issues with the TED and his existing X10 system who commented on a Mapawatt blog post and I highlighted on our blog post on Smart Home Communication Protocols.
For a particularly scathing review of the TED 5000, you can check out FivePercent.US where the author, Tom Harrison, blames the TED 5000 for the downfall of Google PowerMeter:
I blame The Energy Detective, or TED. I had the distinct displeasure of working with this company for some time, and have really pretty much nothing good to say about them. At first, it seemed great. But it turned out to be terrible. They created a product that was ridiculously and needlessly complicated, turned out to be very difficult to install, required an electrician and a network engineer, had poor quality control, and which is fickle at best, and for many people (including me) broke or failed repeatedly. Add to that several people in the support department, and the company’s CEO who were arrogant, dismissive and repeatedly pissed off customers with horrible service. Oh, and lets not forget the time in Fall of 2009 where they reported a short delay in shipment, which was only resolved about 5 months later. How to make people angry, 101.
Finally, some have complained that customer support on the TED 5000 unit is lacking.
But for all of the issues, when the TED 5000 works it does a great job. For $200 you can accurately monitor your home's electrical consumption and send that data to third party websites for more detailed analysis. If you have power generating systems like Solar PV or a Wind Turbine you can monitor that power output vs. your home's electrical consumption. we don't know of any other energy monitors on the market at this price range that allow you to do that. If you get frustrated easily by products that may not work out of the box without some intense troubleshooting, this may not be the product for you.
The TED 5000 is still a relatively young product, so in time we hope the quality and communication issues that plagued the early TED 5000 versions will be improved.