Is there a version of a Kill A Watt or a similar portable plug in monitor that you can use to measure common 220/240 Volt services in the USA? There would seem to be a real need for this product, since 220 volt appliances can be the biggest energy hogs in a house – big Air Conditioners, Clothes Dryers, etc. However the simple answer to the question is “No”.
So the next question is “Why Not?” We have asked manufacturers, visited the booths of the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas and searched the Internet for several years, and in that time we have seen little progress. There seem to be a number or underlying causes. First the number of 220/240 Volt outlets in residences is only a small percentage of the number of 120 Volt outlets, so the potential sales volume is lower. Second there are a large number of configurations for 220 Volt outlets, unlike the very standard 120 Volt 3 conductor outlet. This further reduces the potential sales volume for any single configuration. Third there are some real safety issues in working with 220 Volt services. The safety issues create a liability risk for the manufacturer. Closely related to these issues is that the product needs to get UL approval which requires both a good design and a lengthy and costly testing and approval process.
How do consumers work around this constraint if they really need to know what their 220 Volt appliance is drawing? One solution is one of the larger monitors that we sell such as a TED or a Land Shark. These are much more expensive. They are not simple plug-ins because you need to put spring clamps around the individual conductors – not just around the three conductor cord, so you probably need access to the electrical panel.
What other work-arounds have people tried? There are 220 Volt versions of the portable meters sold for the European market; however, these are designed for different non USA outlet plug configurations, so they would need some kind of pin converter. These would not have UL listings. There would certainly be no guaranteed accuracy for the USA voltage and frequency configuration. Most significantly these would not have a UL listing, and could have some real safety and liability concerns.
We will keep looking for a better solution to this real issue and we always appreciate suggestions either to our phone number or as a response to this blog.