power cost monitor killing me


Old 08-05-07, 10:50 AM
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Unhappy power cost monitor killing me

Hello all you smart people - can anyone help ?

I bought the item below and it looked simple enough to install. However, after a month of messing around with this thing I find that it still isn't working properly (unless I only use 1 KWH a day). I actually use 60 kwh a day
according to the electric company. So obviously the three people who worked with this are not smart enough to install this simple thing.

The PowerCost Monitor consists of two components: The sensor unit which attaches to your utility meter outside the house and the display unit which can be placed anywhere inside your home.

Since I have an electronic meter rather than a standard utility meter, the installation was complicated because the sensor units optical input must be place directly over the optical output which is on top of the meter. The template to line it up doesn't seem to help. any help is appreciated.
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Old 08-05-07, 05:41 PM
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Umm, without knowing the physical specifics of the situation, and the technical specs for the device, I could not even hazard a guess. You might want to try this one in the regular electrical forum, as that's what this is really about.
Old 08-06-07, 12:29 PM
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power cost monitor

Thank you Ron but it really isn't an electrician problem although I may have to call one to get this *&$& thing working.

If for any reason you want to look at the site the address is

It just seems to me that the type of electronic meter from the power company which has a sensor at the top doesn't work with with the POWER COST MONITOR.

We called the company that developed the power cost monitor and they say it should work with my electric company's electronic meter.

Today I emailed the power company to see if they know anything about this product. Many other power companies are aware of this product and provide BIG discounts to their customers. I have the wrong electric company!!
Old 08-06-07, 02:23 PM
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Generally speaking, anything involving the meter itself is the domain of the power company. The power company owns the meter, so anything that attaches to or interacts with the meter must be approved or sanctioned by them. I would suggest trying to move through the channels there.

I don't have any experience with this model, but it looks like proper alignment is the key to accurate metering.
Old 08-07-07, 10:33 AM
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I don't have any experience with this monitor, but I did look at it online. For reference to others: this device attaches to the outside of the power company meter, and optically detects the value being measured by the POCO meter.

In a mechanical meter, the instantaneous power being used translates to the rate that a disk spins. The rest of the meter is dedicated to counting the number of rotations of the disk. If you look, you will see a large black mark on the disk. The monitor being discussed optically detects the mark passing, and thus can report the rate the values that the POCO meter is measuring.

In an electronic meter, there is often a light that flashes, which is supposed to indicate the power usage rate in the same fashion as the spinning disk of the mechanical meter.

In both cases, the relationship between rotations of the disk (or flashes of light) to kWh consumed is different for different meters; you need to know the 'meter constant' and program this into the monitor.

Additionally, for an electronic meter, you need to be sure that the flashing light is actually an indication of power being used, and not some random light that just happens to flash.

Finally, I have no idea how well the optical pickup method actually works.

I came across a software product that uses a webcam to do the same thing; monitor a meter and report the power used. I don't remember the link.

Old 08-07-07, 12:57 PM
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I'd imagine whatever optical sensor they are using to detect the spinning disc, is not working correctly with your electrical meter. Maybe it's not aligned well enough, or maybe the curve of the glass is causing it to not detect it correctly.

I ran across this device a few days ago, and it looks interesting. I haven't bought one (and have no vested interest regardless):


It seems more 'foolproof' as it's actually using a clamp-on ammeter which should be relatively accurate.

Also, I really don't know much about meters (other than that they meter), but are all electronic meters actually electro-mechanical? The item you mentioned states that it "is compatible with standard North American digital and electromechanical meter types." Maybe yours isn't really electromechanical?

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