What type of meters can I use to monitor electrical energy use?


My customer is an industrial plant and we need to break down energy use across the site as well as detect opportunities for energy savings. We more or less know which equipment or areas consume most, and we want to deploy meters to confirm that without spending too much money. What’s the best monitoring strategy, what type of meters would work best?


There is not one single metering solution that fits all projects. You must look at your building constraints and balance the benefits of low-cost against measurements accuracy and other nice-to-have features.

Electricity supplied through the main distribution board of a building is distributed via individual circuits to other sub-boards located across the premises, which are in turn feeding other boards and end-loads such as AHUs, lighting units, etc. So before specifying which metering equipment you need, you must ensure you know what you are going to monitor. Anything else will lead to wrong conclusions and waste of time and money.

Three-phase electrical meters are generally used to measure electrical energy consumption and relevant line parameters in all wiring configurations. Multi-channel versions of three-phase meters exist, which are cost-efficient for monitoring multiple circuits fed from a same location.

Apart from the price element, you must consider a number of important features when making your decision:

  • Panel-mount or Din rail
  • Modbus and/or pulse output
  • Demand data or kWh only
  • Data backup
  • Serial, Ethernet or GPRS connectivity
  • Data Push functionality
  • Current & voltage harmonics
  • Support for wide range of current transformers
  • MID compliance
  • etc

I advise you to outline your requirements, and then contact the many meter manufacturers to find the ones that can offer a suitable product. Then you can select which device you need based on pricing, trust in the brand and other matters.