We keep seeing the Arlec Energy Cost Meter at Bunnings and some other stores. The Bunnings Watt Meter costs about the same as our basic power meter, so we thought we'd give it a comparative review.
The Arlec / Bunnings Watt Meter - is it worth it?
Bunnings Electricity Usage Monitor - Ease of Use
The Bunnings Watt Meter is not particularly user friendly - the biggest problem is the screen size. When compared to the Reduction Revolution Power Meter (pictured below), it is much more challenging to read the numbers, especially the time. Neither screen is back-lit, but the larger size does make our unit much easier to read.
Arlec Energy Cost Meter (left) and Reduction Revolution Power Meter (right).
We might sound a little biased complaining about the quality of the Arlec Power Meter's display screen. But we've heard similar feedback about it from many of our customers. Here is a recent Bunnings customer review on this very topic of usability:
Bunnings Review: "To add to earlier comments about the LCD being hard to read. If you refer to the product image above. The problem is the tiny icon to the right of the last zero. It indicates the setting option, ie. Watts, Amps, Watt Hours etc. It is frustratingly small and barely readable even under ideal lighting conditions. I purchased this device 12 months and ended up buying another brand with a better display." - Andrew / 2 Stars.
Bunnings / Arlec Energy Cost Meter - Functions
The Arlec / Bunnings Watt Meter will display:
- Watts, Amps, Volts and frequency
- Kilowatt-hours and cost
- Power Factor
The Volts, Amps and Watts screens also show the time and power factor. It is helpful to be aware of the power factor as you scroll through the screens.
Bunnings Power Meter Setup Process
Overall the manual is reasonably easy to follow. It has a helpful glossary of terms at the back, which includes an explanation of power factor.
Setting the cost takes time and is quite tricky, but the manual explains it reasonably well.
The Bunnings energy cost meter allows you to set two different rates for electricity. The manual suggests setting one to your ‘normal' rate and the other to your 'off peak' rate. This works to varying degrees depending on where you live and how you are billed for electricity.
This is pretty good - but it is not comprehensive enough to handle most time of use tariffs which have three prices for Peak, Off Peak and Shoulder.
Our power meter isn't any better on this front. However, we do sell the Powerpal Energy Monitor which captures your entire home's energy usage and does accommodate the full complexity of time of use tariffs.
TIP: We recommend using both a Power Meter and a Wireless Energy Monitor to review your electricity usage. Power meters are meant for individual appliances, whereas wireless energy monitors measure your whole home's energy usage. Both are extremely useful in different situations.
Bunnings vs. Reduction Revolution Watt Meter at Measuring kWh
We have tested the Arlec and Reduction Revolution Power Meters against the Power-Mate Lite. The Power-Mate Lite is a professional-grade energy auditing tool that we also sell. It turns out that both of the lower-cost power meters are very accurate at measuring wattage and power factor.
However, our power meter is better at displaying kilowatt-hours (kWh), which is what you pay for. As an example, our power meter is very precise, showing kWh to 3 decimal places. The Arlec meter only shows kWh to one decimal place. The Arlec unit did not register any electricity use even after boiling a kettle twice.
About This Review & Reduction Revolution
This review was first published in 2013 and checked and updated in 2021. Check out the pages below to find out more about us: