2019 Top Home Energy Monitors | DroneQuote
By DroneQuote | Posted May 22, 2019
2019 Top Home Energy Monitors
What is energy monitoring?
Energy monitoring is a way by which you can monitor the consumption of electricity in your home with a device that is attached to the home’s electric service that allows the user to monitor the electricity use through a portal on your smartphone or computer.
How energy monitoring tools and calculators works
Almost all of these devices work by attaching a current transformer (CT) clamp to specific wires in your main service panel, sub panel, or wherever you are tracking the usage of electricity. The clamps work by sensing the magnetic fluctuations caused by the flow of electricity through the wire and then report the data back to the energy monitoring device. Some of these devices even let you monitor energy usage down to the device level.
Why is energy monitoring important
The reason why you would want to monitor your electricity use in your home may be different from person to person, but generally, it is to lower the cost of your electricity bill. In recent years, some utilities have started implementing “time of use” (TOU) rates whereby customers are no longer solely charged on the volume of power they use but instead the volume of power and the time of day the power is being used. An example of this is San Diego Gas & Electric now charges the highest rates during the times of 4 PM to 9 PM which under TOU-DR1 (SDG&E’s default option), rates can hit as high as .65 cents per kilowatt-hour.
If you are a customer of any utility company that uses TOU to charge for electricity, it may be imperative that you have real-time access to your usage patterns, lest you receive a notice via an inflated utility bill.
What are the different energy monitoring features?
Certain makes and models of home energy monitoring offer different features that may work better for some customers than others. Be it a mobile application, retrofitting to existing solar, or appliance level monitoring, the features you will find useful will depend on the specifics of your home.
Solar Ready Options
If you have a solar system feeding your home electricity, you will want to purchase a home energy monitoring system that includes monitoring for your solar system. You can still opt for a non-solar ready device, but then you will have one application for solar production monitoring and another for energy consumption monitoring.
Mobile Applications & Notifications
Most of the home energy monitoring solutions on the market today will have a mobile application from which you can see the usage of electricity right from your smartphone. This is important because you will be given the option to have push notifications sent to your mobile device if there is an anomaly in your usage or if there is a sudden spike in usage, which you will definitely care to know especially if you happen to be in a TOU “on-peak” rate.
Another benefit of these devices is knowing in real time when things are happening. If you have your thermostat set to kick on the AC at a time that will cost you more, you want to be able to calculate what you are going to be paying during that period of time. Some monitors will provide you a real-time cost associated with your electrical usage.
Individual Appliance Monitoring
Some of the energy monitors on the market allow you to track usage down to the appliance level, though this only applies to appliances that use more power like a pool pump, a refrigerator, or an AC unit. Another catch is that it takes time for the energy monitoring device to learn the electrical signatures of appliances turning on and off so it may be some time before usage reflects down to appliance level.
Most of the home energy monitoring devices on the market require some level of electrical know-how and as such, it is recommended that they are installed by a licensed electrician. Keep in mind that this is going to be an additional cost on top of the purchase of the energy monitoring devices. Another drawback to some of the options on the market besides the cost of installation is that certain main service panels will be a tough install for the CT clamps and the monitoring CPU. This may make the installation more difficult, or in some cases, incompatible for the solution you would prefer.
The caveat to this installation issue is one of the solutions on the market allows you to monitor your home’s electricity usage by wirelessly connecting to your home’s smart electric meter. This particular option requires that you simply call your utility company with serial number information on the back of the hardware, thereby avoiding any direct installation into your main service panel.
Popular Options on the Market Today
The most popular home energy monitoring device on the market today is by a company called Sense. They are the prominent option for someone who wants to be able to monitor individual appliances in their home, but the biggest drawback to their product offering is that it takes a long time to get the CPU to identify the electrical signature of different appliances and there have been cases of the Sense misidentifying appliances. Sense starts at $299 for homes without solar and $349 for homes with solar.
Eyedro is a lesser known alternative on the market today, but the plus side is that it is one of the less expensive options available. The downside to being one of the less expensive options is that Eyedro does not have a dedicated mobile application, so you have to look at your electricity usage through your mobile browser, which may pose some challenges. The Eyedro solution is available for homes with solar and without. Eyedro starts at $149 for homes without solar and $299 for homes with solar.
This solution is one of the few home energy monitors that does not require any meddling with the home’s main service panel, so there are no additional costs to install this option. Something to keep in mind about RainForest is the fact that your home must have a smart energy meter installed in order for this solution to be viable. Another benefit to this solution is that it costs less than $70 and also offers a mobile application for your smartphone. I think my favorite feature of this device is that installation does not require fiddling with the service panel so it can be done by someone who is not a trained electrician.
The Curb home energy monitoring solution is yet another option, though it lacks the ability for a user to monitor appliances on an individual level unless you attach CT clamps to that appliance’s specific breaker. The curb solution is a little bit harder to come by since as of this writing you can’t find it available on Amazon.
Know where you stand
Ultimately any one of these options will give you an understanding of how you are using power and what that will mean for your bill. Some people purchase energy monitoring as an alternative to buying solar or to see why their bills are so high. Sometimes, people with high electricity usage will install an energy monitor and then decide that they still want to install solar because their usage is that high. If you fall into this category DroneQuote is by far the easiest and most competitive way to install solar on your home by providing you multiple quotes with none of the hassles that typically comes with getting quotes one at a time through lengthy sales meetings. Request your free quotes and see how solar can supplement an energy monitoring system.
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