Top positive review
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OK but needs adjustment before it is accurate
on 4 July 2013
[Sorry for the long review but I felt it important to update my progress regarding the use of Solar PV- see end of review]
I bought one of these to replace an old meter supplied by EON which I was convinced was over reading my power use.
Installing it was easy and well explained although for some reason they put in the setup instructions at the end of the manual.
Initially, the reading was a lot lower than my old EON meter but I decided it was too low. So I plugged in a 100W (incandescent) light bulb and it only registered a change of about 60W. So I went back and fiddled with the the clamp that goes around the main power cable next to the Official Electricity meter (it is quite a tight fit by the way). It obviously wasn't seated correctly because when I got back, the reading was something closer to 85W.
I still wasn't happy with this so I had another read of the manual. I noticed that there was something in there about adjusting the voltage and I found my unit was set to a (default?) voltage of 230V. I don't care what Wikipedia says, I have always believed the mains voltage in England to be around 240V. To make sure, I measured it and it tends to vary between 239V and 244V. You can adjust the Owl to your mains voltage so I set it to 240V and then the figure increased to around 93W.
I decided that this was within the 10% tolerance quoted in the manual and left it at that.
During all these tests I discovered something else; that the Owl only updates every 6 seconds or so and sometimes it seems like a minute will go past before it changes. This may just be a wireless interference problem and it doesn't really affect the overall performance of the unit.
I was pleased to see that you can actually set up a dual tariff reflecting the fact that many suppliers quote a higher unit rate for the first 225kW used in a quarter. I am still testing this to see if works properly and will update my review if I have any problems.
In case you are interested, the EON meter was reading about 15% higher than it should. What I hadn't realised was that the EON transmitter has batteries in it. They had lasted over 5 years and were still going but once I replaced them both meters read almost identically (which is comforting).
Overall, if you are interested in how much power you are using at any given time (and don't have solar panels) then this is a fairly inexpensive way of finding out.
UPDATE (2 Aug 2013). I have now been running the Owl for a month and had two 'hiccups' with it. The first was when it measured a brief power usage of 9999kW( might have been 9995kW, I can't remember). I suppose this could have been a mains spike but nothing else in the house was affected (including the surge protectors which I thought were supposed to indicate when there have been voltage spikes).
I wasn't really too bothered about this although it did screw up the historical data for power usage provided by the Owl. Then, about 10 days later, it stopped receiving data from the transmitter. In the end the only thing I could do was disconnect and reconnect the batteries on the receiver (I didn't touch the transmitter).
Of course this meant that all of the setup had to be done again including all the tariff information. The good news is that after looking for the transmitter for about a minute, it found it by itself. So, at least you don't have to re-pair the receiver and transmitter every time you replace the batteries.
UPDATE 2 (20 Aug 2013). I have now put in solar PV panels and the owl is behaving very strangely. It is difficult to explain but I know the house uses about 1.1kW just to 'tick over' so when the panels are generating around 1kW I would expect the Owl to be reading zero (or close to it). However, it reads about 700W. I even called the Owl support and they couldn't figure it out either (although they are going to look into it further).
We double checked by looking at the 'real' electrity meter and sure enough, the wheel had almost stopped turning. We even tried turning off the panels when they were generating about 1kW and Owl immediately jumped from 700W to 1100W indicating that the house was drawing just over 1kW from the National Grid. Very confusing and unfortunately makes the Owl useless during daylight as you cannot tell how much power you are really drawing from the Grid'. Of course if you haven't got solar panels then I still think it is a great device to have around the home.
UPDATE 3 (8 Oct 2013). Prompted by a comment on my review, I called 'Owl' again to see if I could make any progress with the Solar PV problem. Although they still couldn't explain why it was happening, this time I was told that the product is not meant to be used with a Grid Tied inverter. For that he recommended another product that they sell. I suggested that they should put a warning to this effect in their documentation but he didn't seem very interested. I might try their official solar PV unit but I am afraid I am still concerned that they couldn't explain why it is happening.
UPDATE 4 (8 Nov 2013). I think I have got to the bottom of the Solar issue so I thought I would make a final update in case it helps anyone else in the same situation. I decided to read a couple of the Owl on-line manuals; specifically, the one relating to their Solar product. In it they refer to solar PV systems that are wired as what they call 'Type 1' or 'Type 2'.
Basically Type 2 is where the output from the solar inverter feeds into your Consumer unit. Type 1 is where the output from the solar inverter is connected (effectively) directly to the Grid mains feed between the main electricity meter and consumer unit.
Mine had been wired as 'Type 2' so I decided to get my electrician to re-wire it as 'Type 1'
'Et voila' the Owl now reads the correct house power consumption all the time (it is as if the Solar Panels are not even there). I have now put the Owl next to my wireless solar generation meter so that I can see at a glance how much power I am generating and how much power the house is using. A simple subtraction of one from the other tells me whether I have any spare to turn on the dishwasher! Hope this helps