Advice, News and Reviews

How to Install an Energy Monitor If You Have Solar Power

To get the most out of your solar panels it's critical that you understand your energy usage. But before you jump into energy monitoring, you need to understand how the different options work, and how to install them.

Keep reading How to Install a Solar Energy Monitor...

By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

How Much Power a Fridge Uses - in Watts, Cost & kWh

Domestic fridge power consumption is typically between 100 and 250 watts.

Over a full day, a fridge is likely to use between 1 to 2 kilowatt-hours (kWh). This translates into a running cost of about $150 per year per fridge.

Before you think "okay great - now I know how much power my fridge uses" - sorry to say, but it's not quite that simple!

In the following post, I'll outline how you can gain a complete understanding of your fridge or freezer's power usage. 

What Affects Fridge Power Use

The actual energy consumption of your fridge or freezer will depend on many factors. These include:

  • Type. For example, a commercial display fridge can use ten times more than your bar fridge at home.
  • Size. Anything with a larger volume, such as side by side fridges, use more electricity.
  • Location. If the fridge is in a warm position, or poorly ventilated, it will use more power.
  • Season. All refrigerators use more power in summer than in winter as the ambient temperature is higher. 
  • Usage. If the fridge door is opened frequently or held open, the compressor will need to work harder to keep things cool. Also, an empty fridge may need to work harder than a reasonably-stocked fridge because more 'cool air' is replaced with 'warm air' each time the door is opened.
  • Temperature set point. The factory setting may keep the fridge cooler than is needed in your home. 
  • Age. Old refrigerators are usually less energy efficient than new high star rated fridges.
  • Condition. If the seals are in poor condition, your fridge will be less efficient.

So, How Much Power Does a Fridge Use?

For a quick check of fridge wattage, find the compliance plate and make some quick calculations. The compliance plate is usually located inside the fridge.

Fridge Power usage in Watts 130W Beko

The fridge compliance plate is a useful first approximation of power usage. In this case, it indicates the fridge uses 130 Watts when on.

For example, for my refrigerator, the numbers are:

  • Refrigerator wattage = 130 Watts
  • Estimated usage = 8 hours per day (33% duty cycle)
  • Total energy = 130W x 8h = 1040Wh = 1.04kWh/day
  • Total cost = 1.04kWh/day x 365 days x $0.25/kWh = $94.90/year

Basic Refrigerator Power Consumption Calculator

To summarise the above calculation, we have:

  • Fridge Wattage x Hours Per Day = Watt-hours per day
  • Watt-hours / 1000 = kWh per day

The above fridge power consumption calculator is not very accurate because the fridge may not consume its rated wattage. Also, the compliance plate does not account for all the other variables that affect power usage. For example, your fridge may have a fault or other issue causing it to operate for 16 hours per day, not 8. That alone would double its usage!

Better Fridge Power Consumption Calculator

To find out the actual wattage of your refrigerator, you need to use a power meter. Our Plug-in Power Meter is the most popular and cheapest option. The Power Mate Lite is our highest accuracy option, often used by professional energy auditors.

 Power Consumption Meter

Use a plug-in power meter to check your fridge's power consumption.

These devices have the benefit of measuring rather than estimating. You can plug your fridge in for a full 24 hour period and see how many kWh it uses. More importantly, you can make some changes and see if you can reduce your energy consumption.

Want to check your whole property's power usage, not just the fridge? See our range of wireless energy monitors.

What About The Fridge Star Rating?

Energy efficiency 'star ratings' are a great buying guide. But because of the variable factors described above, the only way to know how much power your fridge is really consuming is to use a plug-in power meter

Fridge Wattage of Other Fridges

Using a Power Meter, I found that the small fridge in our office used between 90 and 100 Watts when the compressor was running. That resulted in 0.6 kWh used over 24 hours, or around 221 kWh per year. The Power Meter showed that the fridge was drawing power for only 6 hours and 10 minutes in 24 hours.

Commercial refrigeration is more complex to measure, but the opportunities for energy savings are much greater. Some of the businesses for which I have completed business energy audits initially spent well over half of their electricity costs on refrigeration. This is one reason why refrigeration makes number six in our top 10 causes of high power bills.

Commercial refrigerator wattage and cost

Check out this commercial refrigerator which is almost empty and still burning through over $1,000 per year in electricity costs!

Four Ways to Cut Fridge Power Consumption

1. Ensure fridges are well ventilated. Often fridges are jammed in between wall cabinets which makes their power consumption increase substantially.

2. Consolidate the number of fridges in use. If you have a spare fridge in the garage and only partially fill it, empty it and switch it off.

3. Use timer switches on drinks fridges and bar fridges. This way, any fridge that does not contain perishable food is only on when it's needed.

4. Check and adjust the temperature settings. Freezers, in particular, are often set far too cold. Use a thermometer to check and change your settings. For domestic refrigeration, 4˚C for the fridge, and -15˚C for the freezer is sufficient and safe.

Is Refrigeration Power Usage Even an Issue?

Don't forget that refrigeration is only responsible for around 10% of energy usage in most homes. Although it can be much higher in businesses like cafes, clubs, and restaurants. So, if you want to cut your energy usage refrigeration is an excellent place to start, but I also recommend:

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    Top 10 Causes of (& Solutions to) High Electricity Bills

    If you've received a high electricity bill you can end up feeling pretty helpless.

    I've spoken to many people over the years who think their high electricity bill was caused by:

    • an electricity leak,
    • a faulty appliance,
    • an incorrect utility meter,
    • or even a neighbour stealing power.

    While these things are technically possible, they're extremely rare. So rare in fact, that they don't even rate a mention in my 'top ten' list.

    Keep reading Top 10 Causes of (& Solutions to) High Electricity Bills...

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    Powerpal Review - Range, Battery Life, Accuracy & More

    This blog post is a review of Powerpal - a new type of wireless energy monitor.

    Energy monitors are an essential tool to help understand your energy usage. Whether you are trying to combat high electricity bills, or get the most out of solar panels, we always recommend an energy monitor.

    Powerpal is a patented Australian invention that we're excited to offer. It takes a new approach to energy monitoring on several fronts.

    Here's my experience of the product and some detailed test results.

    Powerpal Size & Design

    The first thing that surprised me about the Powerpal was its compact size. The transmitter only weighs 100 grams. Its sleek design and packaging are well thought out.

    This compact unit is in stark contrast to some other energy monitors we sold in the past. I remember the Current Cost energy monitor which needed 2 x D cell alkaline batteries. And the Watts Clever EW4008 and EW4009 (2 x C size batteries). Even the elusive Wattcost device (4 x C batteries). Nothing against these electricity monitors, I'm just noting how things have changed!

    Powerpal meter reader and phone

    This image shows the Powerpal transmitter & optical sensor next to a phone running the Powerpal App.

    Powerpal Set-up Process

    The set-up process is quite straight forward, thanks to Powerpal's technology choice, and good software design.

    Firstly, Powerpal connects to your phone using Bluetooth. Bluetooth is not prone to various internet connectivity issues that can beset other energy monitors. For starters, it does not need to route the data through a wifi bridge, internet gateway, hub or base station. With Powerpal, your phone receives and displays the data. It also copies this up to the Powerpal server for later access (even if you change phones).

    Powerpal set-up process bluetooth

    The initial set-up sequence is easy to follow, as you can see here.

    Secondly, the software is very user-friendly. Each Powerpal comes with a printed card showing its unique Serial Number and Pairing Code. You enter these two numbers during set-up to authenticate your device and establish a secure connection. After that, it's just a matter of adjusting the key settings, all of which you can step through in the settings menu. I have copied some examples below.

    Powerpal electricity tariff settings

    Have you got complex electricity tariffs and discounts? No problems. You can enter these (and much more) in the settings section.

    Powerpal Battery Life

    Powerpal's sleek design made me wonder "how long will the battery last?"

    And this is where things get really interesting. Powerpal uses a new form of Bluetooth which uses hardly any power to transmit data. Its expected battery life is a staggering ten years. Here's what Powerpal has to say on battery life:

    Powerpal comes fitted with high power batteries specifically designed for long life IoT [Internet of Things] applications and is rated to run continuously for 10+ years without user intervention under normal operating conditions.

    Powerpal uses one of the most advanced IoT chipsets available on the market today combined with patented power optimising algorithms to achieve the stated battery lifetime.

    I have not been using Powerpal for 10 years. But, I have been road testing it now for about three months, and in that time the battery level has not dropped below 100%.

    Powerpal settings and reset

    Some of the Powerpal settings.

    Powerpal Accuracy

    As an engineer, I don't like saying that things are 100% accurate. So for this reason, on the product page, we say that you can expect a result within 1% of reality. In my direct experience, however, I have (so far) experienced 100% accuracy. Here are a few example readings:

    Date Powerpal Utility Smart Meter
    13th September 2019 5.69 kWh 5.694 kWh
    17th September 2019 19.7 kWh 19.729 kWh
    24th October 2019 1.53 kWh 1.531 kWh

    Before you say "but those numbers are different" - they are not, they are rounded:

    • Powerpal reports numbers rounded to three significant figures.
    • My utility's smart meter reports to 3 decimal places.

    Most impressive about the above numbers is that even on a low usage day, Powerpal remains accurate. This reliable accuracy is great to see because low power usage is the most difficult to measure (for all power meters and energy monitors).

    Real World Range Test Results

    We have tested the Powerpal in two locations, and this is what we found:

    Area / Application Real World Range
    Open Area 125m
    Typical Household 50m
    Concrete Building (office or apartment block) 30m (same floor) or up to 2 levels (between floors)

    As you can see, the range varies a lot, depending on the environment. It has no trouble getting through multiple walls, whether brick or timber.

    The Powerpal transmitter is well sealed and has a magnetic base to stick to the top of your meter box. Installing the device like this gives you the best performance and range. I have also tested the transmitter placed inside the meter box, and it still worked fine - it just shortened the range.

    Data Storage & Refresh Rate

    Two other important things to consider when buying an energy monitor are:

    1. Data refresh rate - how long the screen takes to update when your energy usage changes.
    2. Data storage - how much data is stored in the hardware or software.

    The live view of the energy monitor app updates very fast. How quickly it updates depends on the size of the load. Significant changes in electricity demand (such as a kettle, electric heater, or air conditioner) update in less than two seconds. Smaller changes - such as switching off an LED downlight may take about 10 seconds to become visible in the app. In both cases, relative to other energy monitors, this is quick.

    As for data storage - as long as you run the system, it will keep storing data. If you happen to go away for a few weeks holiday, that's fine too. That's because the transmitter itself can store data for up to 60 days before offloading this to your phone.

    Powerpal User Interface

    The Powerpal software interface is clean and customisable. For example, you can change the main chart between four different display options. You can also change how the phone app reports data by default (either in dollars or in kWh).

    Powerpal App Interface 

    The Powerpal energy app even changes colour as your power usage increases.

    Summary

    Here's what I've liked most about the Powerpal so far:

    1. Easy to use and in-depth interface allows you to drill-down on your power usage.
    2. You can change and adjust all kinds of settings. Or, you can just set it up and not sweat the detail.
    3. The weekly summary report is very informative. It shows how you are tracking week to week, even if you forgot to check the app.

    Powerpal push notification

    Powerpal push notification for your weekly summary report.

    Even for households with solar panels installed, like mine, Powerpal is very handy. Whenever I see "0W" on the Powerpal display, I know that the solar panels are covering all of my household loads. On the other hand, at night time or on very cloudy days, I can make sure that my usage stays as low as possible to minimise imported power from the grid.

    Ready to start monitoring your usage? Click here to buy PowerPal online.

    Still got some questions? You can find further information on our Powerpal energy monitor page. Or browse our full range of energy monitoring devices.

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    Can We Really Trust Electricity Smart Meters?

    I first started writing about Smart Meters back in 2011 during the rollout in Victoria. Back then, a real storm was being whipped up by mainstream media. 

    Fast forward to now and many people are still worried about smart electricity meters.

    Keep reading Can We Really Trust Electricity Smart Meters?...

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    Portable BBQ Review - Lotus Grill vs. Everdure Cube vs. Weber Go Anywhere

    Portable charcoal BBQs are a great and energy-efficient way to barbecue. We've compared the leading brands including LotusGrill, Everdure CUBE by Heston, and the Weber Go Anywhere BBQ.

    Click here to keep reading Portable BBQ Review..

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    Colour Temperature - How to Choose The Best Colour Light

    Asking 'Which colour temperature is best?' is a bit like asking 'What colour should I paint my wall?'

    Keep reading our guide on choosing the right Colour Temperature...

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    Solutions to LED Lights Causing TV or Radio Interference

    Some of our customers have reported interference on their TV or radio after upgrading MR16 downlights to LED. This only happens when the lights are switched on, but it can be annoying, especially if you enjoy AM radio!

    Keep reading Solutions & Fixes to LED Lights Causing Radio Interference...

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    Using the Efergy Engage Online Energy Monitor Dashboard

    The Engage Dashboard displays the readings of the Efergy Engage wireless energy monitor. When you first log in, information about your system is presented in several sections. This article explains the function of each section.

    Keep reading Using the Efergy Engage Online Energy Monitor Dashboard...

    By Abraham Wile | | Read more

    Energy Bills Explained - How to Decode Your Electricity & Gas Bills

    Electricity bills and gas bills are often confusing and hard to interpret.

    Once you know what to look for, they will make a lot more sense. Then you can get started on reducing them!

    Keep reading Energy Bills Explained - How to Decode Your Electricity & Gas Bills...

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    Should You Buy ALDI LED Light Bulbs? [2019 Review & Update]

    This weekend ALDI is selling a range of LED light bulbs under the name 'LIGHTWAY'. It seems they've done away with 'Muller Licht' from previous years. Although only on offer once a year, they're worth reviewing given their generally low price points.

    Keep reading Should You Buy ALDI LED Light Bulbs?...

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    Efergy Engage Hub Online Software Set-up (& Troubleshooting)

    This guide outlines some important steps in the set-up of the Engage Hub's online software.

    Keep reading Efergy Engage Hub Online Software Set-up (& Troubleshooting)...

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    Why We No Longer Sell Solar Air Heaters

    Over the last few years we've sold many solar air heaters to some of our most enthusiastic energy-saving customers. Despite their utility, we've decided to remove solar air heaters from our range, for several reasons.

    Keep reading Why We No Longer Sell Solar Air Heaters...

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    How to Check if You Have a 3 Phase or Single Phase Power Supply (& Solar)

    Single phase or three phase, that is the question. Well, at least if you're browsing our range of wireless energy monitors.

    Here are two simple ways to check if your home or business has one or three phases connected.

    Keep reading How to Check if You Have a 3 Phase or Single Phase Power Supply (& Solar)...

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    Don't Waste Your Money on Battery Storage Until You Have One of These

    Everyone seems to be talking about the Tesla Powerwall and lithium batteries for energy storage. But I'd like to introduce a smarter and much cheaper way to store energy.

    Keep Reading Don't Waste Your Money on Battery Storage Until You Have One of These...

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Battery, Bosch, Heat Pump, Hot Water, Powerwall, Tesla | Read more

    Should I Buy a CAT S60 / S61 or Stand-Alone FLIR Thermal Camera?

    The CAT S60 and CAT S61 are highly rugged smartphones with an integrated FLIR lepton thermal imaging camera. The problem is, CAT seems to be hiding the actual thermal imaging specifications from all marketing materials. 

    Keep reading Should I Buy a Cat S60 / S61 or Stand-Alone FLIR Thermal Camera?...

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    Tips for the Efergy Elite and Engage Hub Energy Monitors

    After selling Efergy energy monitors for a number of years we've collected several tips, tricks & advanced settings for the Elite, E2 and Engage systems to get the most from your new monitor, expand an existing system or reset an older unit.

    Keep reading Advanced settings for Efergy Elite, Engage Hub or E2 Energy Monitor...

    By Abraham Wile | | Efergy | Read more

    5 Charities That We Have Supported

    Throughout the month of December 2017 we pledged to donate $10 for every order over $100 placed on our website. We received a great response from our customers and donated over $5,000 across five different, worthwhile causes.

    Keep reading 5 Charities That We Have Supported...

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    Wireless Energy Monitor Accuracy Revealed

    I often say that energy monitors will typically give you readings within ± 10% of reality. To check if this 'rule of thumb' is correct I have conducted various tests over the years. 

    Keep Reading Wireless Energy Monitor Accuracy Revealed...

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    We're Donating $10 to Charity for Every Order Over $100

    From now until the end of December 2017 we will donate $10 to charity for every order placed on our website that is worth more than $100. The more orders placed, the bigger our donation gets! 

    Keep reading We're Donating $10 to Charity for Every Order Over $100...

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    Dishwasher Power Usage - Changing Settings vs. Higher Star Rating

    Dishwashers carry a star rating label to help you purchase the most efficient option within your budget. One problem with star ratings is that for simplicity they only convey and compare one thing.

    Keep reading Dishwasher Power Usage - Changing Settings vs. Higher Star Rating...

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    Give an Energy Saving Gift That Keeps on Giving

    Our energy saving gift ideas 'keep on giving' in three ways:

    1. They reduce power bills ongoing into the future.
    2. They reduce emissions from energy production.
    3. They often reduce maintenance costs and/or save time.

    Keep reading Give an Energy Saving Gift That Keeps on Giving...

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    Hey Gladys, can I get free car rego if I use more public transport?

    The NSW State Government recently announced a toll relief policy, whereby frequent toll road users get free car rego. I think it doesn't really make sense and have a few better ideas.

    Keep reading Hey Gladys, can I get free car rego if I use more public transport?...

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    Can You Recycle Plastic 'Sealed Air' Packaged Air / Void Fill?

    Fill-Air, Air Pillows, Sealed Air and other inflatable packaging are effective solutions to protect goods in transit. But can they be recycled, and what other packaging options are available?

    Keep reading Can You Recycle Plastic 'Sealed Air' Packaged Air / Void Fill?...

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    How to Minimise Holiday Power Bills

    People often say to me things like: "I just got this massive power bill and we weren't even at home for much of the bill. We were on holiday, it makes no sense!"

    Sorry to say, but just because you took a holiday, it doesn't mean your appliances went on vacation too!

    Keep reading How to Minimise Holiday Power Bills...

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    Tesla Semi Truck Cost, Battery Size, & Availability in Australia

    If you are a Tesla fan like me, you probably already sat through the full Tesla Semi truck launch video. Even if you did, there were many details missing like: cost / price, battery size, and availability, which I have tried to research and publish here.

    Keep reading Tesla Semi Truck Cost, Battery Size, & Availability in Australia...

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    Here's why we have a plastic problem

    If you ever need convincing that we have a problem with plastic, just take a walk down a remote beach.

    Keep reading here's why we have a plastic problem...

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    Confused by the 'National Energy Guarantee'? Here's what you can do

    Many people are confused and/or disappointed with the Federal Government's newly announced energy policy the National Energy Guarantee (NEG).

    Keep reading Confused by the 'National Energy Guarantee'? Here's what you can do...

    By Ryan McCarthy | | Read more

    Nine Reasons NOT to Switch to LED Lighting

    Many people are upgrading their lighting to LED to save money on their power bills. But before you make the switch, here are nine reasons why you might want to stay in the dark ages. Because we couldn't think of ten reasons..

    Click here to keep reading Nine Reasons NOT to Switch to LED Lighting...

    By Reduction Revolution | | Read more

    Will You Join the War on Waste?

    Here at Reduction Revolution, our slogan is “waste less, live better”.

    So we're excited to see the upcoming series War on Waste on ABC TV.

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    Got a Question?

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    Please see our FAQ, delivery, pricing, and product pages for commonly asked questions and answers.


    About Reduction Revolution

    Reduction Revolution is a business focused on energy efficiency and sustainability. Our products will help slash your energy usage. But they also often improve comfort, save time, and reduce your maintenance costs. That's why we say waste less, live better.

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    Reduction Revolution Pty Ltd is an Australian owned and operated business (ABN 74 141 672 764).

    Since 2010 we have supplied tens of thousands of customers across Australia & NZ.

    Click the links below to find out more:

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    Latest Blog Posts

    • How to Install an Energy Monitor If You Have Solar Power

      To get the most out of your solar panels it's critical that you understand your energy usage. Many people who fail to monitor their energy usage end up with high electricity bills, even if they have solar power installed. We sell several... read more

    • How Much Power a Fridge Uses - in Watts, Cost & kWh

      Domestic fridge power consumption is typically between 100 and 250 watts. Over a full day, a fridge is likely to use between 1 to 2 kilowatt-hours (kWh). This translates into a running cost of about $150 per year per fridge. Before you think "okay great... read more

    • Top 10 Causes of (& Solutions to) High Electricity Bills

      If you've received a high electricity bill or gas bill you can end up feeling pretty helpless. I've spoken to many people over the years who think their high electricity bill was caused by: an electricity leak, a faulty appliance, an... read more