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Showing 1-9 of 9 reviews(3 star). Show all reviews
on January 14, 2012
This review is for the BLI-24000, which was discontinued about 2008, to be replaced by the BLI-28000.

I had the display unit in my kitchen, and it was very informative to see my energy usage basically in real-time. I discovered that the central heater in my new home was not an energy efficient design and was using about three times as much as newer designs would. I was shocked at what a hog the heater was, using over 14kw when active. If the heater needs replacing then I will be sure to get the one with the a/c compressor unit that is a reverse cycle heat pump, instead of the coil heater I apparently have now.

This product worked well, as long as it didn't rain too heavily. And once the rains came then the outdoor transmitter stopped working for a few days until it dried out. It also often stopped working if it was exposed to direct sunlight, perhaps due to the sunlight interfering with its electric eye that reads the spinning disk.

After one particularly long bout of rain, the transmitter never worked again. I eventually opened the casing and I could see that the electronics inside were water damaged. When I look on the Blue Line website, I see that the newer version of this product has been improved, in order to correct the design defect that allowed water to collect inside the electronics.

Its rare for electronic devices to fail after only a couple years of use, as most such devices seem to last at least a decade or three. And for the high price I had paid for my unit I decided to see if I could get the transmitter's electronics replaced.

After contacting Blue Line I discovered to my surprise that they do not stock any replacement parts for their product, and they could not help me in any way with getting my unit repaired. Apparently their plan for maintaining their product line is for you to throw it away when it dies. This is especially irritating, given that it died due to a known design defect. And for a product that originally cost over $100 dollars, and one that is only a few years old, how can they not plan to provide service for it? This shows that making a good product is more than just a glossy design and a friendly voice on the phone. A truly good company makes sure they maintain their products through a reasonable life cycle.
33 comments| 11 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 13, 2012
This review is for the BLI-24000, which was discontinued about 2008, to be replaced by the BLI-28000.

I had the display unit in my kitchen, and it was very informative to see my energy usage basically in real-time. I discovered that the central heater in my new home was not an energy efficient design and was using about three times as much as newer designs would. I was shocked at what a hog the heater was, using over 14kw when active. If the heater needs replacing then I will be sure to get the one with the a/c compressor unit that is a reverse cycle heat pump, instead of the coil heater I apparently have now.

This product worked well, as long as it didn't rain too heavily. And once the rains came then the outdoor transmitter stopped working for a few days until it dried out. It also often stopped working if it was exposed to direct sunlight, perhaps due to the sunlight interfering with its electric eye that reads the spinning disk.

After one particularly long bout of rain, the transmitter never worked again. I eventually opened the casing and I could see that the electronics inside were water damaged. When I look on the Blue Line website, I see that the newer version of this product has been improved, in order to correct the design defect that allowed water to collect inside the electronics.

Its rare for electronic devices to fail after only a couple years of use, as most such devices seem to last at least a decade or three. And for the high price I had paid for my unit I decided to see if I could get the transmitter's electronics replaced.

After contacting Blue Line I discovered to my surprise that they do not stock any replacement parts for their product, and they could not help me in any way with getting my unit repaired. Apparently their plan for maintaining their product line is for you to throw it away when it dies. This is especially irritating, given that it died due to a known design defect. And for a product that originally cost over $100 dollars, and one that is only a few years old, how can they not plan to provide service for it? This shows that making a good product is more than just a glossy design and a friendly voice on the phone. A truly good company makes sure they maintain their products through a reasonable life cycle.
22 comments| 4 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on July 21, 2013
The box that is shown in the photo that is displaying different numerical figures has some type of flaw. Mine stopped displaying the temperature after only a day. Then it stopped showing anything, only blank amounts. Who knows, maybe it's just the lemon of the bunch. Will return for a new device though. I like the device's functions when it worked.
The sync device that I had to attach to my home's electric meter would cease to function at all, and I had to reset it approximately 4 times then it started to work properly.
The ultimate disappointment that I found with this device is after I had everything setup and ready to go, the final stage is installing either eragy or plotwatt onto my computer in order to monitor my usage. I bought this device in order to see how much I am spending on my various appliances each month. I was unable to install eragy due to they are no longer taking on anymore people. Eragy and plotwatt are both free websites. Therefore, I had to choose plotwatt. It is a great website, except for one thing. It only shows an appliance usage chart, which isn't broken down at all. So I am unable to see what the cost is per month for each individual appliance. I am not totally dissatisfied with plotwatt though. I can see just how much electrical usage I am consuming each month which gives me ammunition against the electrical company if my bill is too high, where they say I am using more electricity than what I actually am.
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on April 3, 2012
UPDATE Feb '14: We've moved to a house with gas heat, and I find the real-time display to be much more useful with electric heat out of the mix. However, it has been up to 10% higher in total kWh than our utility bill (with careful attention paid to resetting at the beginning of a new billing period).

Also, the display unit continues to lose connection with the sensor when the batteries get low but BEFORE the low battery indicator appears on the display. I've learned to replace the display unit batteries when this happens, instead of assuming it's a problem with the sensor or its batteries.

The lithium AA batteries I put in the sensor are working great. They've lasted at least a year and haven't caused a disconnect with temps in the -15ºF range.

UPDATE May '12: Replacing the batteries in the display unit appears to have resolved the problem where it would frequently lose its connection to the sensor. That was prompted by the low battery indicator, which unfortunately didn't come on until several weeks after the connection became unreliable. (The batteries were the ones that came in the box.)

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Our utility installed this device for us as part of a "smart grid" program. We've had it in our townhouse for about five months. It's been a mixed bag, and I think it's missing features that would make it a lot more useful.

The display has been going to sleep routinely (once or twice per day) over the last couple of months, and we think it's because a neighbor is using a wireless weather station that uses the same frequency as the Power Cost Monitor. Because we live in a townhouse complex, it could take a while to track that down, and we may not be able to find a way to have both devices coexist. I found out about this potential snag via the FAQs on the Blueline website. Unfortunately, when the display goes to sleep the cumulative kWh number is not updated. We've found that the display has been off quite a bit (25-35%) over the last three months because it's not keeping a consistent connection to the sensor. Replacing batteries, moving the display as close as possible to the sensor and realigning the sensor have not helped.

We have cold winters and found that the sensor tended to drop out below 0 deg. F with the supplied alkaline batteries. Blueline recommends using lithium batteries in cold climates, and we'll try that next winter.

While the PCM has the ability to isolate the power drawn by a single appliance, it can't keep track of that device over time. So we can't tell how much energy our water heater is using over the course of a week or month, for example. Or how much less energy is used by the water heater if we're on vacation.

Our house is all-electric, so the real-time number varies substantially, particularly in the winter. When several baseboard heaters, the dryer and the water heater are on, we could be seeing over 10 kW. Or, moments later, it could be under 1 kW. Without knowing what the breakdown of that number is, the real-time indication is of limited value unless you find an energy hog that can be replaced or upgraded. (We did not find low-hanging fruit.)

So, it's the cumulative number that has been most helpful to me. That allows me to gauge how we're doing during the course of the month, rather than waiting for the bill (or running out to look at the utility meter). Our billing cycle begins the same date every month, but the PCM can't be configured to reset the cumulative number automatically to match. For the cumulative number to have any meaning, I have to remember to reset the display unit monthly. (And, as mentioned above, with the sensor connection problems, we're not getting terribly accurate totals as compared to our bill.) Also, the PCM doesn't have daylight saving time capability, so it's another clock to change. If you have tiered electricity rates, that clock is essential to getting accurate dollar estimates.

All told, the PCM hasn't been as useful as I'd hoped. It will serve us fine if we can get the interference/connectivity issue sorted out, and if I remember to reset the totals monthly. I think it would be much more useful with these features:
- Auto-setting (atomic) clock and calendar with DST
- Configurable totals reset date (with ability to view the last total)
- More robust wireless communication that's less susceptible to interference with common devices
- Tracking capability for multiple appliances to estimate their contribution to the total
- Backlight for display
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on January 2, 2013
Doesn't work for people with Solar Generation, meter has no ability to read negative (generation) stats.

Other than that, it works as advertised, but if your power company has their own smart meter devices, save your money on this and contact them.
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on April 10, 2013
I believe the thing would have worked exceptional on an electronic meter, but with my old mechanical meter it did not work. It could have been that my meter was sun faided, the little black mark on the wheel is hardly visable. Sent it back after three days of messing with it. I suggest checking your meter prior to ordering it.
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on April 30, 2014
These meters have a light pipe at the top and to read them the sensor arm is inserted into the transmitting unit which is then strapped onto the top of the meter. The problem comes from the fact that in this configuration the sensor is an extra 1/10" (3mm) from the light pipe and will not reliably read the meter. After much experimentation I found that there is enough slack to remove the sensor arm from the transmitting unit and place it directly on the meter. The metal strap for the transmitting unit passes over the sensor arm also and holds it to the top of the meter.
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on January 30, 2010
I live in a tile apartment building, and found that the range of the base unit to be limited. My power usage is minimal and the unit is not accurate for
low usages. This is in spite of resetting the unit and sensor several times. Any ideas?
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on October 1, 2014
works but doesnt but knew it might not be the best one to get but i wanted to see how it worked etc .
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