Belkin Conserve Insight electricity monitoring device

Belkin Conserve Insight review: A simple device for measuring the electricity consumption of electronic devices and appliances

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Belkin Australia Ltd Conserve Insight
  • Belkin Australia Ltd Conserve Insight
  • Belkin Australia Ltd Conserve Insight
  • Belkin Australia Ltd Conserve Insight

Pros

  • Very simple to use, calculates electricity running costs and carbon footprint, well made

Cons

  • A bit pricey

Bottom Line

The Belkin Conserve Insight offers an easy way to monitor the electricity usage of your assorted devices and appliances. It's simple to use and it can let you know how much a particular device will cost you per month or per year, as well as letting you know its carbon footprint.

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Belkin's Conserve range of products is designed to help you not only keep track of and minimise energy consumption. The range includes the Belkin Conserve Insight, which can monitor the amount of electricity consumed by devices in your home, as well as tell you how much of a carbon footprint they leave behind.

The Belkin Conserve Insight is a well-built and (some would say) stylish device consisting of a wall plug and a separate monochrome LCD unit. The main plug has a socket where you can connect the device that you want to monitor. It can be any 240V device or appliance that's rated at up to 2400 Watts — anything from a toaster to an air-conditioning unit or a washing machine can be measured, as long as they are rated as consuming under 2400W of power. The electricity is measured as it flows through the Conserve Insight and to the device or appliance that's connected, and the consumption is stated on the LCD unit in Watts.

The plug itself is large, but because it's designed like a mushroom, it can be used on a standard two-socket outlet or a powerboard, even if the adjacent outlet is in use. However, it won't fit if there is a powerbrick-style transformer or any other type of oversized plug in the adjacent outlet.

The monochrome LCD screen isn't backlit, but it's easy to read and it's attached to a 1.5m cord. It has three buttons under its screen that can be used to change modes: carbon footprint (marked by a picture of Earth), running cost per month or year (marked by a dollar sign), and energy consumption in Watts (marked by a lightning bolt).

Belkin has set the values for the cost per kilowatt (17.35 cents per kilowatt at the time of writing), but this can be changed by holding down the dollar sign button until the units start flashing. You can effectively add up the cost of running all your appliances and electronic devices for a period of a month or a year.

It's especially useful to see how much electricity consumer electronics consume when they are in standby mode — older devices such as VCRs and even some set-top boxes and PVRs can consume a couple of dollars per month, while appliances such as dishwashers can consume even more. Furthermore, you can use it to check if a battery charger stops consuming electricity after a charge has been completed.

When using the Conserve Insight to monitor the Watts used by a device, it's important to keep an eye on the consumption periodically, as it can fluctuate quite a bit depending on the device you are measuring. For example, when charging a battery, the initial energy consumption may be lower than 10 or 20 minutes into the charge. We compared the results of the Insight to our more complicated Power Mate Energy Meter and found the Insight to be reliable in its readings.

There is a little box under the Watts readout that moves across the screen from left to right. The faster it moves, the more electricity you are consuming in a short period of time, and vice versa. In carbon footprint mode, it changes width.

The carbon footprint has been set at 900g per kilowatt hour, which is perhaps a little on the conservative side for coal, according to the Wikipedia article on carbon footprint, which has it at 955 grams. As with the cost of electricity, the carbon footprint value can be changed manually.

If you have even a passing interest in how much electricity your devices and appliances consume, as well as how much of a carbon footprint they leave behind, the Belkin Conserve Insight is a good investment. It can help you save money on your electricity bill in the long run, especially if you have a lot of computer and home entertainment gear, as you'll be able to see at a glance how much electricity they consume not only when they are switched on, but also when they are in standby mode. Furthermore, it's just fun to measure things! With the Belkin Conserve Insight, you you'll want to record the energy consumption of anything and everything forever more.

Here are some helpful links with tips on energy conservation:

Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency
LivigGreener.gov.au

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Read more on these topics: green, belkin, green IT, home appliances

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