How do Power Monitors Work?
Power monitors track the power usage in an office, server room, or other area. They are simple devices at the core, thanks to the nature of electricity. When AC power is used, it generates a small electromagnetic field. Using basic sensors the same way a voltmeter does, power monitors can pick up this field and literally monitor it, gauging the amount of power used throughout the day.
Few power monitors remain so simple. Software lends them many different uses and interfaces with computers so that data can be analyzed. Some also include automation systems that allow them to adjust the power use of certain devices, or switch them on and off.
How Does This Help Businesses?
Many companies have power systems that have to stay on all of the time. For example, a computer server room needs to operate 24/7, and power loss in just one system can threaten the capabilities of all systems. Power generators need to stay on at all times, hospital devices must work constantly…the list goes on. When power shuts off to these systems through accident, storm, or another disastrous event, the power monitor immediately notifies managers via email or text. More advanced systems may be able to take additional action to help preserve sensitive equipment. Heat sensors are also included in many power monitor devices.
I Thought Power Monitors Saved Energy. Do They?
Yes, thanks to now-common features most power monitors also help businesses and homes save money. Power monitors not only detect when electricity is on or off. They can measure the rate at which electricity is used, and how this fluctuates between peaks hours and down-times throughout each day. This information is display as numbers, charts, graph lines and other methods so you can view it and form a power plan that keeps devices on when they are needed and shuts off unnecessary devices during off hours. Software creates energy audits and offers suggestions on how you can operate your systems to utilize energy efficiently. The information also lets you plan out energy strategies when you want to make purchasing decisions for cable, wire, and power flow devices.
Are Power Monitors One-Size-Fits-All?
No. Some power monitors are simple devices designed primarily for use in homes or small offices where power is not a burgeoning concern yet (except for the energy-hungry lunch room refrigerator). Others are complex devices with large touchscreens and multiple applications that integrate with your desktop and mobile tech. Still others are small wireless sensors ideal for troubleshooting a single device or power flow issue. The amount of data a monitor can store at one time may also vary. Some models may be more weatherproof than others if you need an outside monitoring solution.
How Much Do They Cost?
Just as power monitors have different sizes, they also have different price tags. For the most advanced devices that monitor all electricity factors at multiple locations with extensive analysis software, you can expect to pay between $600 and $1,000. These devices are most in demand among large businesses that can afford them. A more moderate power monitor will cost around $250 or so, depending on features. Cheap versions for basic monitoring purposes can be found for $150.
What Kinds of Extra Features and Upgrades Are Available?
In the power monitor world, customization is the big feature that companies look for. This often means tying the power monitor’s analysis to specification events, such as logging into the company network, sending emails, or operating devices such as a wide format printer. The more a power monitor can fit the individual needs of a single company, the more useful it will be. Beyond customization, compatibility with third-party applications and specific information formats may be important, but most businesses will rarely have an issue with this.
Derek Newman writes from ITWatchDogs, which offers environmental and temperature monitor tools that monitor power, humidity, light, airflow and much more. Install these into your server room, data center, cold storage, research lab or other mission critical facilities to prevent equipment failure or downtime.