Review: Belkin Conserve Insight
- — 14 October, 2012 22:00
|Name||Energy Use Monitor: Belkin Conserve Insight|
|At a glance:||Shows power consumption (W), cost ($), CO2 emissions (kg),Can enter custom power cost & ‘CO2 conversion rate’,1.5m cabled display|
|Summary:||More expensive than much of the competition, but also much more polished and convenient.|
Belkin’s Conserve Insight allows you to measure approximately how much power any mains-powered device is using. You plug the Conserve into your wall socket, power-board or extension-cord, then plug any device you’d like to measure into the Conserve. Easy as pie.
There are many similar devices available, but the Insight has one very nice feature that we haven’t seen elsewhere: its small LCD display and control buttons are separated from the wall-plug by a 1.5-metre cable. This means you can check the reading without getting down under your desk, or behind the TV, or wherever else your wall-socket is hidden. Considering this gadget is worthless unless you look at the reading from time-to-time, that’s a huge plus.
The Insight has three display modes, the most obvious being power consumption measured in Watts. It can also display approximate cost (monthly or annual) if you enter your own power rate per kilowatt-hour – you can find this on your power bill. Finally, it can display approximate CO2 emissions (monthly or annual) in kilograms, given a ‘conversion rate’ based on your local power supply.
According to the manual, the device “comes with a preset CO2 conversion factor based on averages for your geographic region”. As with power cost, you’re able to enter a custom rate.
Power generation in New Zealand comes from a number of sources, from hydroelectric to coal. Usage of these sources varies over time, varying the exact CO2 emission level per unit of electricity generated. In other words, all you’re ever going to get is a very rough figure.
How does the Conserve save you power? Well, it doesn’t. It tells you how much power a specific device uses, and then you can tweak settings to reduce power use, or to check whether gadgets designed to save power are doing their jobs. Think of it as a benchmarking tool, like the software we use when testing PCs: it doesn’t improve things by itself, but without such a tool, you’re working blind.
The Conserve is more expensive than competing devices with the same functionality – easily double the cost. However, the convenience of its cabled display and its simple interface do a lot to justify the price.