Customer Reviews: TS-836A Plug Power Meter Energy Watt Voltage Amps Meter with Electricity Usage Monitor, Reduce Your Energy Costs
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on January 2, 2015
I got this the other day. I already own 2 P3 International P4400 Kill-a-watt meters which are very similar in function.
Here's why the TS836A is better:
The display has three lines instead of one. more info at a time. Not well used though...
The plug is lower on the unit and does not block the second outlet of a duplex outlet receptacle
The unit remembers min and max power levels.
The unit has an internal NiMH battery and keeps the accumulated time and KWH and min/max Power info in the event of power failure or just moving the unit.
The unit enables cost per KWH entry to calculate actual cost rather than just KWH
Current is displayed vs. xx.xx for the P4400. One more decimal of resolution. Too bad the current reading is much worse accuracy than the P4400!

Here's why the Kill-a-watt P4400 is better:
smaller size
2% error on current and watts vs 5% error on current and watts for the TS386A (spec was 3% for the TS386A so its out of spec)
Display is easier to read, the segments of the numbers are bolder and much easier to read in dim light and off-angle. esp. when the unit is wall mounted down low.
Individual buttons chose one or two functions only - easier to chose.
The line frequency is displayed with xx.x digits vs. just xx (no decimal) for the TS386A Better frequency resolution is nice if you are using a generator for example.

Ultimately it is a little harder on the TS836A to find the info you want due to the function button having so many functions. The units that show what the numbers are is very small and hard to read. On the P4400 I can just push the button for the function I want and I know what units the number displayed is in.

Picture shows accurately the contrast difference in the displays. (picture here:
Instructions with the TS836A are a little hard to understand. I don't have the P4400 instructions at hand but I don't recall having such a hard time with them.

Final opinion: I think I like the Kill-a-watt a little better.

P.S. 9 months later, The display is dimmed out and all but unreadable. Definitely a loser now. P4400s all still working and much older. Changing my rating to one star!
And by the way, it doesn't have VA (reactive power) and Power factor of the P4400. something I miss.
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on April 4, 2014
My old Kill-a-Watt bit the dust, so I bought this as a replacement. It does basically the same thing, plus a little more …

The "hi / low" wattage function is cool. That makes it easy to see, for instance, the initial big draw of a laser printer on startup.

The screen is very large and readable (it is NOT illuminated, even though some of the pictures make it appear that way) and can display multiple pieces of data simultaneously.

It directly displays the power factor, so you don't have to calculate it from W vs. A. (if that's important to you … for me it's just curiosity)
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on November 6, 2014
As soon as I got this I ran all around the house testing the usage of everything I could get my hands on. I was surprised by some of the results---who knew how much energy a mechanical lamp timer uses! I had no idea that I was wasting so much energy believing I was saving it! I have removed most of the timers I had individually plugged into items and instead I'm grouping lights with extension cords on a single timer...also, this has inspired me to reduce the quantity of electronics that have been using up energy in standby mode.

I'm not sure why there are complaints that it doesn't keep the information has an internal battery which will retain the info if you leave it plugged in long enough for it to charge up a bit. It is not the most intuitive device when it comes to entering in your data, and it has no backlight, but if you just want to know how many watts any device is using, this is your gadget.

It is much easier to use if you plug it into an extension cord and then plug in your device that you want to measure. Otherwise you will find yourself squinting at it on all fours and cursing your advanced age. Even if you are young.
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on June 3, 2014
I bought this mainly to test how many watts my computer was using to buy a more appropriate sized PSU. After playing with it for a while I started running around my apartment testing random appliances to determine how much wattage it's using up. If you have older style outlets (2 prong), this won't work, the plug requires a 3 prong plug. The majority of items shown on the screen are ignored unless you want to carefully monitor the wattage. There's a timer that tells you how long it's been plugged, an option that tells you the minimum/maximum wattage and more. I just look at the middle box that displays the wattage reading and move on.
Even though your power bill won't significantly drop after buying this, it could be used to make better decisions on what you're constantly running.
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on May 15, 2014
If you just need to see what your energy usage is while something is plugged in then this unit does the job. There is no battery back-up (even though the generic instructions tell you to install rechargeable batteries - another more expensive model?) so once unplugged the display will dim and die until it is plugged in somewhere else. It does not retain any data from the previous use. Other than that it works fine & does an excellent job.
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on June 29, 2014
As many reviewers have stated, it's a basic watt meter. Although the manual is poorly written, it is pretty easy to figure out what the displayed numbers represent, assuming you know what watts, amps, etc are. I especially like it because it gives you the HI and LO energy usage. This was especially helpful to me as I'm in the process of planning my solar energy project and need to know what peak power draw is when appliances start up.

If you know what your kwh rate is you can also plug in the number to see what a particular appliance costs to run. The meter tracks energy usage over many days (I plugged in my frig for 26 and it gave me my kwh reading over that time period. Not sure how many days it tracks though... Good item overall.
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on July 8, 2015
Defective Display. Dead On Arrival. The display was barely readable at any angle, and completely inoperable at times. When I did manage to get a barely readable view of the screen, the voltage was off by 9% when tested with a calibrated true RMS meter. I also ordered the EUM-A1, a similar meter (pictured in the attachment) only to have both of them turn out defective and returned (thankfully) to amazon. Too bad because I really liked the idea of having battery memory backup (which both of these have) and the higher resolution watts readout. I may try yet again... they can't all be defective, can they #@$?
review image
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on September 22, 2015
So this item arriving DOA is not as rare as you might think. It's not common but it does happen. If you get one that's DOA, you wont know because the instructions are weird when they tell you it needs a battery (which some users will tell you that is DOES and DOES NOT need). So the instructions are not helpful, the users are not helpful, and this item by itself is not helpful either.
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on November 30, 2014
So far so good. I actually ordered this during a power outage, while running on generator. I keep a Kill-A-Watt meter on the generator itself, and will use this one in the kitchen, so when we're on emergency power, we can see when frequency drops and we know we have a generator problem or overload (overload usually being electric cooking appliances).
While the power's on, though, I like knowing how much the christmas lights and trains are using...almost 200 watts. We leave the lights (152 watts) on about 14 hours per day, for about 28 days, at .13 per kwh (actual rate after taxes, etc; power company claims $.075 per kwh)...That's almost $8 to light the tree for a month... So it already helps me make different decisions. I'll lighten up on the timer... :)

If you have trouble getting on the floor and reading the display, I'd suggest you pick up a few of these 1' extension cords to hang the meter from, so you can conveniently turn it to face you for reading:

It's a little confusing to know what you're looking at (IE peak hold/most used, least used, etc), but it shouldn't take long to figure out how to read real-time. I didn't set the clock, but it's showing the right time of day after being plugged in. Not sure how that happened...

Also, like others, I couldn't find a place to put the battery.

So far, I have no complaints, and for the cost, I think it's worth it.
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on January 13, 2016
Totally useless. Dead on arrival. I should have read the reviews more carefully. This was a waste of money and since I live on an Island in the Caribbean, returning it is not worth it... with shipping etc. the junk cost me more than 25 dollars.
The manual is as bad as the other one starts are saying. No rechargeable battery is required because it has them already soldered on the board when I opened the back lid to check.
No names, mediocre package should have been a warning.
AMAZON take this item off your list ! ! ! IT IS JUNK.
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