Electricity meters--WattsUp v. Kill A Watt

Describe and/or review kits and lab equipment.
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shawn
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Electricity meters--WattsUp v. Kill A Watt

Post by shawn » Fri Feb 02, 2007 12:58 pm

I won't repeat many details about these two tools, but refer you to my article in a recent newsletter for a discussion and links:
http://energyteachers.org/ReadArticle.php?id=146
I just started using P3 International's Kill A Watt, and have come up with some comparisons between it and the WattsUp Pro and WattsUp Pro ES that I have used for a year.
The first difference is price: You can but a Kill A Watt for about $25, while a WattsUp costs between $75 and $190. I would buy many of the Kill A Watt for lending to students to take home and measure different appliances, while I would have the students connect one WattsUp Pro ES ($190, or $150 from EnergyTeachers.org) via its USB [was serial] port to a computer at school so that we could measure all sorts of appliances and see the measurements in real time on an LCD projector.
The difference in function is that the two WattsUp Pro models can download data to a computer. If analysis of tables and graphs fits into your curriculum, you should buy one of these models. Since you will be studying electricity-use, you should be able to get a grant from a utility-funded source in your state.
One difference not mentioned in any other review or brochure is that the Kill A Watt has no cord, and when you plug it into a standard outlet, it blocks the other outlet above or below from being used. Any WattsUp comes with a cord, which is a great advantage, especially since you can place it where it is easily read instead of behind a refrigerator. To get around this problem with the P3, you should buy a short, high-current-rated extension cord to go between the Kill A Watt and the outlet.
If you follow any of this advice, please reply to this post and let us know what you do.
Last edited by shawn on Fri Jul 13, 2007 12:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

x31forest
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kill-a-watt

Post by x31forest » Thu Jul 12, 2007 11:00 pm

If anyone has a Kill-A-Watt handy and some free time, I'd like some help populating my site http://www.thewattdb.com with different devices' power draw in standby and active states.

Thanks,
-Paul

shawn
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Posts: 269
Joined: Wed Oct 19, 2005 9:41 am
Location: Ithaca, NY

thewattdb.com

Post by shawn » Fri Jul 13, 2007 12:41 pm

I followed the link to "thewattdb" mentioned in the previous post by Paul.
Pros:
Gather meaningful information, including "Active," "Standby," and "Off" rates.
A focus on how much power the devices use in "vampire" mode (standby). I'd like to point out that all the vampires in America use much less energy than the zombies (people who drive 2.5 tonne SUVs to Dunkin Donuts to pick up a 75 gram donut).
E-mail is optional for registration, which allows us to avoid any possibility of spam. According to the site, the developers are working in earnest to develop a privacy policy.
Each time you visit the home page, a random set of 5 devices is displayed, perhaps to pique your curiosity.
It's good to see adults doing what we teachers have been asking students to do for homework with their Kill-a-Watts.

Cons:
Search for "toast" yields nothing, but for "toaster" yields a toaster oven. So, no partial words.
Ads are on a (z-) layer above the rest of the page, so if a person uses a browser with a narrow window, such as on a low-res computer screen like some schools still have, the ads prevent you from seeing parts of the database.
The pages are in the typical three-column format with Google ads on either side, making it look like the junk-traps people use to park domains and increase reference-ranking on Google, those fake interest-based pages.
The site needs some other cosmetic refinements, such as text that isn't too small to read without adjustment on the registration page.
There's no way to view a full list of devices. There's only the random 5 on the home page, and search results.

Suggestions for the site:
There should be a field for typical duty cycle.
There should be a brief about how rates change due to several factors, such as how a refrigerator's duty cycle will change dramatically from winter to summer.
Feature some graphs from WattsUpPro-generated data, so people can understand what a refrigerator does, and how devices do not use scads of energy at startup as the myths imply.
Add a way to view all devices.
Add classification, such as "computers" and "kitchen."

x31forest
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re:feedback

Post by x31forest » Fri Jul 13, 2007 2:20 pm

Shawn,

Thank you very much for the feedback.

-Paul

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