Killing watts in Ottawa


in Geek stuff, Ottawa, The environment

For a while, I have been thinking about buying a Kill-a-Watt electrical meter, in order to test how much is used by various household appliances and electronics. The problem is, it doesn’t make hugely much sense to spend $30 to $50 on a device that you only really need to use once. As such, I was happy to discover that the Ottawa Public Library system actually has 142 of them available to be borrowed for free. There seem to be at least a few at every branch.

I plan to pick one up sometime this week and test the power usage of my computer, stereo, microwave, etc. I don’t think it will work with my washer or dryer, unfortunately.

[Update: 6 May 2009] I picked up a library Kill-a-Watt tonight, one week loan, no fuss, no deposit. I will post data when I have collected it.

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Matt May 5, 2009 at 6:17 pm

I’ve used one and was surprised to find out my entertainment unit (Stereo, Computer tower, Satellite receiver and LCD TV) use ~40 watts when on standby! When running, it’s over 300watts.

The downside is that its minimum power reading is 1 watt (no decimal places in watts mode), so it’s no good for very low consumption items.

. May 5, 2009 at 6:25 pm
Matt May 5, 2009 at 7:47 pm

It probably would work with your washer, btw, it’s rated to a full 15amps. It will also tell you not only instantaneous usage, but cumulative in kW/h which means you could calculate the cost of a load of laundry if you so desired..

Tristan May 5, 2009 at 9:08 pm

I can’t see any reason it wouldn’t work with your washer and dryer and oven and stove, you’ll just have to set it to 220volts.

Chris May 6, 2009 at 12:00 am

That is awesome news. I’ll keep that in mind if and when I finally get around to moving to Ottawa. In the meantime, I wonder if other cities offer those.

Matt May 6, 2009 at 2:11 am

“I can’t see any reason it wouldn’t work with your washer and dryer and oven and stove, you’ll just have to set it to 220volts.”

It fits only in a standard North American 120v socket, and only works for 120v appliances (of which a washing machine is one).

Tristan May 6, 2009 at 8:42 am

I see. I didn’t realize that it actually plugged in. Ones I’ve seen before just clamp around the cable and test only current – you need to put in the voltage. This seems like a slightly inferior product – since you have no choice but unplug every device you want to test the power draw from.

Milan May 6, 2009 at 11:32 am

Perhaps manufacturers of large appliances should be required to build Bluetooth-style radio transceivers into them.

These could allow people to easily track usage by appliance. They could also be control systems, letting people schedule high-load activities for off-peak times.

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