With today's economic climate and the barrage of suggestions in the media to become "greener" and to "reduce your carbon footprint", now seems the perfect time to take a look at the Wattson 01. At its most basic level, the Wattson allows you to monitor the real-time electricity usage in your home. Anyone who has ever tried to lose weight will know how you need to weigh yourself regularly to track your progress - equally, if you are attempting to reduce your power consumption, you need a way of gauging how much you're using in the first place.
The Wattson is made up of two main components - the transmitter, which monitors your electricity usage and the main display unit, which collects the wirelessly transmitted data and interprets it appropriately.
Unlike say, an ammeter, which measures current draw through it, the Wattson works on a different principle altogether. A current carrying wire produces a magnetic field and by measuring this field, it is possible to calculate how much current is being drawn in an unobtrusive manner. The Wattson comes with a small, shielded electromagnet, that you clip over the mains wire of your home's fuse box. In most scenarios there are only two wires coming out of your fuse box and either will do. In my case, I had four, but judging by the green colouring, I assumed (rightly so) that these were for earthing only. It really is as simple as clipping it on to the cable and you don't even need to turn anything off. The only screwdriver required is to open the transmitter to fit the four supplied AA batteries. These batteries should last 6-12 months, depending on your polling intervals - and the display unit will tell you if the batteries are running low.
After spending less than five minutes fitting the sensor clip, I powered up the display unit. According the well written manual, this should have been all that is necessary. However, all I was given was an "out of range" message. Putting the unit right next to the transmitter soon put that theory to rest.
The manual may be exceedingly well written, but it failed to mention one very important fact that I discovered while perusing the online troubleshooting guide. In order for the two components to work together, you need to pair the device, much like you do any other wireless equipment. This is done just like a wireless mouse with a teach and learn method. After finding myself a safety pin, I was soon collecting data about my household electricity use.