3 Things You Should Consider When Choosing a Power Meter

  • April 28, 2015
  • ICP DAS USA, Inc.
  • ICP DAS USA, Inc.
  • Feature


Smart power meters can be used to show your real time electricity consumption, help with load managementand transformer monitoring, and power monitoring.  Smart power meters can save you time and money since changes can be made to reduce energy usage automatically when itis not needed. Touch Screen PLCs, data loggers, Programmable Automation Controllers, and PCs running SCADA software can be used forcontrol, monitoring and displaying the data in a way thatis easy to understand and analyze.

So what are the most important things to consider when selecting an energy meter?

Single-phase or Three-phase

When choosing an energy meter, the first thing you need to consider is how many phases are needed for the system. Most suppliers nowadays provide single-phase power meters and three-phase power meters. If the current system you are logging data from is single-phase, then you need a single-phase power meter. If it is a three-phase electric system, then you can only use a three-phase power meter to work with it. Single-phase power meters are compact, din-rail mountable, and flexible for various energy monitoring applications. They come in 2 loops and 4 loops accordingly, and support a wide range of input types such as Vrms, Irms, kW, kWh, kVA, kVAh, kVAR, kVARh, and PF. They can be used in both low voltage primary side and medium/high voltage secondary side, enabling users to obtain reliable and accurate real time energy consumption readings from the equipment. 

Number of Amps

After determining the phase of the power meter, another thing you need to consider is how many amps you need for the system. Usually, the most common options that intelligent power meters have for amps are 60 amps, 100 amps, and 200 amps. The number of amps supported can vary as the power systems vary. It is not workable if you choose a 60A power meter for a power measuring system that actually needs 100A.

Communication Protocols

Smart Power Meters communicate over different mediums and protocols, so it is also very important to determine which communication protocol your power meter needs to work with. Modbus is one of the most common protocols in industrial applications. Developed by MODICON in 1979, Modbus has become a standardized, openly published and easy-to-use protocol to connect industrial devices. Smart power meters that support Modbus protocols are easier to integrate with your current Modbus systems. Besides Modbus, other communication protocols are also available for power monitoring applications. CAN bus, or a Controller Area Networkis a protocol that allows devices to be connected in applications without a hosting PC. Today CAN bus is used in automotive, cycling, industrial and entertainment industries for data communication. Another protocol is CANopen, which is a communication protocol used in embedded systems in automation. In conclusion, choosing a smart power meter with the right communication protocol is very important in getting the system up and running.

What Else?

Now that we have considered phases, amps, and communication protocols, what else do we need for a successful energy monitoring system? One biggest advantage of smart power meters is that it can be connected with SCADA and HMI software and automate the whole system. With the SCADA software, it can show the status of your equipment, send email or text message alarms, log data, implement control and generate reports.

ICP DASUSA is a manufacturer of Industrial Data Acquisition, Automation and Control products; specializing in: PLC Hardware, Embedded controllers, Remote I/O modules, Industrial Ethernet Switches, PCI and ISA boards, and more.




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