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Power Factor Problems
on 29 September 2011
The unit is easy to install, and will quickly show you how much apparent power your house is using, but unfortunately that's not what you're billed for in the UK.
The included software is terrible, and the statistical aggregation on the unit doesn't allow for Generation, so it's not terribly useful for solar either (though it will at least log it as an appliance, appearing as usage rather than generation).
Because of power factor issues, it will accumulate usage that simply does not exist. For instance, my solar inverter appears to use 80W at night, and there's no way to exclude this. The unit streams data out on a data cable, which is good, and dumps it's history on every odd hour of the day. However, it does include the phantom current.
The samples in the unit are timestamped, but there is no date, and the clock stops when you are in any setup menus, or downloading on demand.
Individual appliance monitors report real power instead of apparent power, which lets you get a measure of how much it's really costing for an appliance, but the whole house reading is always too high (unless everything in your house has a power factor of 1.0, which it won't).
Take the results with a pinch of salt. This and most other clamp meters will behave the same way. For example, dimming lights on a standard dimmer switch makes your meter move slower, but this unit will not show any significant decrease power consumption when you do so.
That said, the unit does let you see when someone's left their hair straighteners or PC on, so it may save you some money in the long run.
In addition, compared to the Bluetooth unit for my solar PV inverter, the entire system (this, 1 appliance unit, and 3 clamps) is still cheaper than that option.