The LCD display tethered to the Belkin Conserve Insight F7C005q Energy-Use Monitor shows the real-time electricity usage of an electrical device plugged into the monitor, and after 45 minutes switches to an averaging mode. Once you enter the local information from your power company, the monitor also shows the amount of carbon dioxide the electricity is adding to the environment (from the power plant), and projects the monthly and annual cost of using the device. Installation is a simple matter of plugging the monitor into an outlet, then plugging in a device whose usage you want to measure. The monitor can measure loads between 0.5 and 1,800 watts.
Other plug-in monitors, such as the P3 International P4460 Kill a Watt EZ energy monitor (*Est. $30), do the same thing -- and sometimes provide more details, such as cumulative kilowatt-hours used (though you can calculate these from the data the Belkin provides). The Belkin's big advantages, though, are its simplicity and its 5-foot cord between the outlet/monitor and the display. The cord adds tremendous convenience when using the monitor on outlets placed low on a wall or behind furniture.
Like other plug-in power monitors, the Belkin Energy-Use Monitor has some limitations. It can't track your entire home electricity use, nor can it measure usage for outlets or devices controlled by wall switches. Appliances that run 240-volt A.C -- such as more powerful air conditioners -- or that use more than 1,800 watts of power are also outside its monitoring capabilities. For those situations, a whole-house energy monitor like the Black & Decker EM100B Energy Saver Series Power Monitor (*Est. $50) is a better solution.
We found an expert comparison review of the Belkin Conserve Insight F7C005q monitor at Reuters.com, though no testing is documented. At Amazon.com, though, nearly four dozen owners base their reviews and ratings of the Belkin monitor on actual usage. Two well-illustrated single-product reviews, at ModSynergy.com and at GeekNews.com, are testing-based and helpful.
This article at Reuters.com compares the Belkin F7C005q energy monitor with the Black & Decker Power Monitor and the ThinkEco Modlet (not yet commercially released). The Belkin earns praise for its tethered display and ease of use, but limitations are noted: You can't track whole-house usage or measure outlets and devices controlled by wall switches.
Review: 4 Ways Electricity Monitors Can Trim Your Energy Bills, March 22, 2011
More than 50 owners review the Belkin Conserve Insight F7C005q monitor here, and it receives a very high overall rating. Owners praise the simple operation and the fact that the display can be placed in a convenient location. The main drawback is that it doesn't measure usage from large appliances.
Review: Belkin Conserve Insight F7C005q Energy-Use Monitor, Contributors to Amazon.com
This detailed review (by the editor of a Canadian site) recommends the Belkin monitor based on actual usage, calling it "a very nifty and useful device." The review provides ample detail about how the Belkin monitor works, noting some drawbacks -- such as the inability to give average kWh, to tell how much an average laundry cycle costs or to project dollar cost based on a period of time the user chooses. Still, its simplicity is also a virtue.
Review: Belkin Conserve Insight and Conserve Socket (Energy Conservation) Review, Michael Phrakaysone
This well-illustrated review recommends the Belkin monitor but notes that the display is not backlit. Though the plug leaves an outlet free on a standard double wall outlet, it can block another outlet on some power strips.
Review: Review: Belkin Conserve Insight Energy Cost Monitor, "Richard M.", April 18, 2011