Current Cost CC128 Energy Monitor
- Easy to install and understand
- Long battery life
- Strong and reliable signal transmission
- Reasonable price
- Web connection unstable
- No software or drivers included
Installing the Current Cost energy monitor was a lot easier than I expected. There are concise instructions about how to do it packaged with the monitor but all it really entails is finding the right wire on your distribution board and fitting the current clamp around it.
Please make sure that you turn all the power to your house OFF before working in the distribution board otherwise you could be seriously injured. Rather make use of an electrician if you are unsure or if the regulations in your country require it.
After connecting the current clamp, plug it into the transmitter and pull out the plastic tab to activate the battery. My unit started transmitting immediately and all I had to do then was pair it with the display (instructions included), and the readings for my water heater started rolling in.
Realtime Web Connection
This is unfortunately where the current cost meter fails to deliver the goods. It makes use of something called a bridge to get the display unit talking to the router, so that it can post the power readings onto a digital dashboard on the web which updates in near real time.
The problem is, mine didn't work - at all, no matter what I tried. I even went so far as taking it to a friend and plugging it into his router to see if it would work there, but no dice.
It's meant to be plug n play, so you connect it to the back of the display unit and into the router, after which it should communicate with the web. Looking at some of the posts on the Current Cost discussion group there are still a number of issues with the bridge like lost data and units freezing up every so often.
So the Current Cost bridge option is still pretty unstable and I wouldn't recommend that you get one until the company solves the reliability problems.
Something that really puzzles me is that Current Cost doesn't provide any bundled software or drivers with which to display your energy measurements on a PC. All the software to do that is available on the web so if you don't have an internet connection, you're stuck.
What this effectively means is that you can't access the historic energy readings available in the memory and can only make use of the readings on the display unit, which shows the power consumption for the last day, week and month.
If you do have a web connection you can download the needed drivers and software from the Current Cost website, but strangely the company only has a very rudimentary program called C2 Terminal. For more advanced features they rely on third party software developers and web services, which is puzzling to me again because the company has no control over the quality of that software.
My experience with the third party Current Cost software was not good as I couldn't get any one of them to work. That may be as a result of my own technical ineptitude but I think it may have more to do with the fact they haven't been upgraded for windows 7 use yet.
So this left me with a dilemma because the bridge wasn't working and neither was any of the software. I wanted to see in detail what happened last month with my electricity consumption and I couldn't which was really frustrating.
Fortunately Google Powermeter came to the rescue. After downloading yet another piece of software for the envi energy monitor, this one finally worked. It allowed me to upload the information stored in the display unit using the Current Cost data cable and alongside is a screenshot of the result.
Google Powermeter has since shut down so now I use the Meniscus dashboard to make sense of the readings.
If You Can't Measure It, You Can't Change It
Any energy monitor worth its salt will show you exactly where you currently stand in terms of power consumption. But the big wins in money and power savings only realise if you change your behaviour as a result of your new knowledge.
So for instance, I'm measuring the consumption of my hot water heater (geyser) so that I'll know if it's going to be worthwhile to buy a solar water heater. And once I've installed it, I will be able to see how much I'm spending on using the backup electrical element and adjust my water consumption accordingly.
The Current Cost energy monitor is ideal for measuring the performance of a solar water heater because you can see exactly how much power you are still using when the sun isn't enough, such as a series of cloudy days, during the winter or of course, at night.