Blue Line Power Monitor

Keep Track Of Your Power Usage

 

It's often said that it's easier to conserve power than to make it.  Important detail if you are adding solar panels to your home as we are.  Solar panels are expensive ($5/Watt), so not only is it easier to save than make power, it's also a lot cheaper.

It's easy enough to swap incandescent bulbs for Compact Fluorescent (CFL) bulbs, but they are hardly the the major portion of my electric bill.  A Kill-A-Watt meter is an easy way of testing small appliances.  The meter is plugged into an outlet, then the appliance into the meter.  But this still doesn't show the consumption of the big power pigs (electric dryer, stove, oven, central A/C, etc).  100 Watts of lighting is nothing compared to the 4500 Watt water heater element.

Blue Line Innovations makes a wireless power monitor system that simply clamps to the outside power meter, and the data is transmitted to the receiver.  It shows the power consumption of your entire home, and will display the information in Watts or dollars.  Seeing what an appliance costs to operate real time does make a difference.  While the meter alone doesn't save you a penny, it does make you more conscience of your power usage, ultimately inspiring power conservation.

I bought this product at Northern Tool, on sale, for $109.  I have little doubt the meter will pay for itself quickly.  It came with batteries, and took about 15 minutes to install.

 

The Hardware

 

What you see is what you get.

There's a fine layer of silicone rubber around the battery compartment seal.

The monitor has a band clamp that grips the power meter.

An optical sensor 'watches' the meter wheel spin.

The Blue Line wireless display is on the right.  Since it's battery operated, it can be placed almost anywhere in the home.  Some have reported frequency conflicts with remote temperature transmitters.  In the middle is an Oregon Scientific temperature monitor.  Both systems are working fine, with no data dropouts.

In this picture, my home is consuming about 300 Watts.  Most of that is a 46" TV, cable box, and ceiling fan.  My home usually consumes more power if I'm not being careful.

The central A/C kicked on, so now up to 2500 Watts.  This number jumps a lot higher with the water heater, two stove burners, and the oven running!

 

So, any eye openers yet?  Yep.  Washing my hands with warm water causes the water heater to kick on for a few minutes.  I never considered that the water heater runs each time I wash my hands.  Our water isn't cold here, unlike up North.  No need to waste hot water for this purpose.  These little things will add up. 

I first saw this product a year ago.  IIRC, the price was double of what it is now.  For what it does, and the potential cost savings, I think it's well worth the present cost.  My only concern is how it will hold up in the Florida weather.  There is a seal on the battery door, and the circuit board does appear to be conformal coated, but "I" would have designed a separate battery compartment, and epoxy sealed the circuit board.  It does come with a 1 year warranty on parts & labor, and I'm keeping the receipt.  If it croaks before the year is up, I'll be looking for a replacement.  Either way, I'll post how it's holding up on this webpage.

 

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Last updated 03/26/09    All rights reserved.