Last updated: August 9, 2021

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The electricity bill is getting more and more expensive every month? With digitalisation, more and more devices that require electricity are entering the household. Among them are also hungry power guzzlers that cause the electricity bill to rise. Energy meters are a good way to save electricity and costs and to unmask the power guzzlers. They measure how much electricity has been used over a certain period of time.

Our big energy meter test 2021 aims to answer the question of which energy meter is the right one for you. We want to simplify the decision to buy an energy meter by comparing energy meters with each other and highlighting the individual advantages and disadvantages.




Summary

  • Energy meters measure electricity consumption over a certain period of time with the aim of determining electricity costs. A distinction can be made between an electricity meter and an energy meter for a socket.
  • The electricity meter is usually located in the electricity box and measures the electricity consumption of the entire household. Important: It should not be installed by yourself, but by an electrician. Although the electricity meter can basically also be connected to the socket, the electricity meter with plug is better suited for this purpose.
  • When buying an electricity meter, make sure that it has the right type of current and sufficient power so that the energy meter does not make any measuring errors and accidents do not occur. Electricity meters must also be calibrated or MID-compliant for billing purposes.

The Best Energy Meter: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying an energy meter

How does an energy meter work?

The classic electricity meter measures the consumption of the entire household.

The energy meter measures the electricity consumed over a period of time.

Plug-in energy meters, on the other hand, only measure the electricity consumption of individual appliances.

More precisely, energy meters calculate the kilowatt hours (kWh) consumed. This is the power (watts) drawn over a period of time. This power is calculated by measuring the voltage (volts) and the current (amperes).

Why buy an energy meter?

To save on electricity costs. By measuring the energy consumption, it is easier to assess how electricity can be saved.

Electricity meters indicate the electricity consumption of the whole household, i.e. the electricity bill can be controlled. The electricity meter is also a point of reference for future bills.

Energy meters with a socket, however, make it possible to unmask electricity guzzlers. This means that individual power-hungry appliances can be replaced by more economical versions.

What does an energy meter cost?

In general, energy meters are available for between about 10 € and 140 €. However, the price can vary greatly for classic electricity meters and for electricity meters with a socket.

Type of energy meter price range
General €10-140
Plug-in energy meter €10-45
Electricity meter €20-140

The socket energy meter is a little cheaper because it does not have to measure heavy current. Such models can be had for as little as about €10. The most expensive versions go up to about 45 €.

Electricity meters that are intended for the whole household cost a little more. They have a price range from 20 to 140 €.

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The electricity meter identifies where a lot of electricity is being used unnecessarily. In this way, electricity costs can be saved.
(Photo source: pixabay.com / Christian Oehlenberg)

What is three-phase current?

In electrical engineering, three-phase alternating current - also referred to as three-phase alternating voltage or three-phase current for short - is a form of multiphase alternating current that consists of three individual alternating currents or alternating voltages of the same frequency whose phase angles are permanently shifted by 120°.

Thus, three-phase current is a type of alternating current. It is important to make sure that the energy meter is compatible with the type of current. Common for households is single-phase alternating current. However, there are also three-phase alternating current systems.

What are the alternatives to an energy meter?

Alternatives to energy meters are multimeters or laboratory power supplies. Both alternatives also measure current, but are not directly intended for electricity costs.

  • Multimeter: These devices are also called ammeters because they primarily measure the amperage. They are therefore only used momentarily and not over a longer period of time, i.e. the electricity consumption (kWh) is not measured. However, it could be calculated.
  • Laboratory power supply: The laboratory power supply also measures the current, but can also adjust the voltage and the current intensity, which is the actual primary function of the laboratory power supply. It is therefore more suitable for testing and service purposes, as well as for hobby electronics.

Decision: What types of energy meter are there and which one is right for you?

Energy cost measuring devices can be divided into two types: the classic electricity meter and the plug-in energy meter.

The difference between these two types lies in the measurement. The electricity meter measures the electricity consumption of the whole household, while the plug-in energy meter only measures the electricity consumption of individual appliances. Of course, these two types are suitable for different cases and thus bring with them advantages and disadvantages. What these are exactly and what distinguishes the two types will be explained in more detail in the following sections.

What distinguishes a classic electricity meter and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The classic electricity meter measures how much electricity has been drawn from the electricity grid for the household. It thus provides an overview of the total electricity consumption. This makes it easy to check the electricity bill.

Advantages
  • Overview of the whole
  • Control of the electricity bill
  • Compatible with heavy current
Disadvantages
  • Difficult to assess what consumes how much electricity
  • Difficult to save electricity effectively
  • More expensive

In addition, the electricity meter is also usually compatible with heavy current, which is why it can be used with more specialised appliances that require heavy current.

What are the characteristics of a plug-in energy meter and what are its advantages and disadvantages?

The plug-in energy meter is plugged into a socket. The power connector on the energy meter is plugged into it. It is therefore located between the socket and the device it is to measure.

Advantages
  • Exposes power guzzlers
  • Effective in saving money
  • Cheaper
Disadvantages
  • Total electricity consumption remains unknown
  • No control of the electricity bill
  • Not suitable for heavy current

Thus, the electricity cost meter for socket can measure the electricity consumption of individual appliances, i.e. it exposes all electricity guzzlers in the household. This is very effective when electricity needs to be saved, as the energy guzzlers can be replaced.

Buying criteria: Use these factors to compare and evaluate energy meters

Not every energy cost measuring device can be used for every case. There are some criteria that need to be considered before buying in order to find the right product. The four most important buying criteria are:

What exactly constitutes these buying criteria and why they are important is explained in more detail in the following sections.

Measuring range

The measuring range can be specified in different ways. It is usually given either in watts or in amperes.

For plug-in energy meters, up to 3680 watts are common, which corresponds to 16 amps at 230 V. Classic electricity meters, on the other hand, can usually handle up to 32000 watts, which corresponds to 80 A at 400 V.

If these values are not adhered to, the energy meters can be overloaded. This can lead to inaccurate measurements or even serious accidents, such as a fire.

Measured values

Which values are measured and displayed differs from energy meter to energy meter. Generally, kilowatt hours are always displayed. However, other measured values can also be indicated:

Measured value Unit
Power consumption Kilowatt hours (kWh)
Power Watt (W)
Voltage Volt (V)
Amperage Ampere (A)
Cost of electricity Euro (€)

Electricity meters with a socket often also display voltage (volts), amperage (amps) and power (watts). In addition, some models offer direct calculation of energy costs in the desired currency.

Type of electricity

Single-phase alternating current flows in most homes. This is why most plug-in current meters are compatible with this type of current.

However, many households are supplied with three-phase current, which is why most electricity meters are built for this. The guide section explains in more detail what three-phase current is.

MID / Calibration

Since 2016, only MID-compliant

electricity meters are permitted for new installations. Here, the commissioning of the electricity meter corresponds to the calibration year. The year of manufacture is therefore always marked on the electricity meter.
If an energy meter has been calibrated or is MID-compliant, this means that it is accepted by the legislator. It can therefore be legally used for billing purposes, i.e. landlords can, for example, use calibrated electricity meters to bill energy costs.

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Whether an electricity meter has been calibrated is usually marked on the device. The calibration seal (yellow here) indicates until when the electricity meter can be used. Since 2016, only the year of manufacture is displayed.
(Image source: pixabay.com / Gerd Altmann)

When calibrating the meter, however, the expiry year must be taken into account. After the calibration has expired, the electricity meter may no longer be legally used for billing purposes. Normally, electricity meters must be calibrated every 8 years (digital devices) or 16 years (analogue devices).

Facts worth knowing about energy meters

How do I install an energy meter?

An electricity meter should never be connected in the electricity box by yourself. For safety reasons, it is advisable to have an electrician do this.

In addition, legal regulations may be disregarded if you install the meter yourself. High costs may be incurred to subsequently adapt the electricity box to the standards.

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Only professionals should work on the electricity box. On the other hand, you can work on the power socket yourself. However, the same applies here: Safety first.
(Image source: pixabay.com / Michal Jarmoluk)

If the electricity meter is to be connected to the socket, this is possible with the following steps. First, however, the electricity should definitely be turned off. This is how an electricity meter is correctly connected to the socket:

  1. First, connect the mains plug to a three-core power cable. To do this, open the mains plug with a screwdriver and connect three wires of the power cable as follows: Yellow-green to the centre and the black as well as the blue cable to the two poles of the plug.
  2. Connect the other three-core cable to the mains coupling in the same way.
  3. Now open the electricity meter so that you can connect the cables to it.
  4. There are four terminals in the electricity meter, which you connect as follows: First take the power cable with the mains plug and connect the black wire to terminal 1 and the blue wire to terminal 4. Connect the yellow-green wire to the earth connection on the housing of the electricity meter.
  5. Now connect the cable with the power coupling as follows: Connect the black wire to terminal 3 and the blue wire to terminal 6. Here, too, connect the earth wire to the connection provided on the meter casing.
  6. This completes the connection of the electricity meter and you can close the housing again. [2]

Source: helpster.de

What is the best way to save electricity?

Thanks to energy meters for sockets, it is possible to determine which appliance requires how much electricity. Some models even calculate the electricity costs directly. This shows what consumes a lot of electricity and therefore costs a lot. So unnecessary costs can be saved.

Here is a video with some tips on how to save electricity.

Image source: Adamowicz/ 123rf.com

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