In the last few weeks, my daughter and I have diligently searched for every item on her school supply list. Over the years, her lists are becoming more task-oriented and focused on her studies. Out with the crayons, in with the protractor. While she loves choosing new notebooks, she often gets nervous about learning new tools.
As an energy enthusiast, I am learning about the variety of tools I can use to measure energy. From basic pulse meters to embedded Power and Energy Management systems (ePEMs), there are many tools that can help you on your power and energy management journey. As a starting point, meters capture a lot of information about how your building is using electricity and much like an ever-evolving list of school supplies, these meters vary in necessary training and complexity. Here’s a primer on the different types of meters you may consider in your building:
Panelboard: These meters are your pens and pencils. You will use them a lot. They serve a basic function (measuring kWH) and can be used in a wide variety of applications. They are simple and easy to use.
Feeder: These take a bit more knowledge, but they are able to make calculations and store basic data. I think of them as calculators. These meters are designed for monitoring the main distribution circuits from the main electrical switchboard in a large building or the main distribution feeders from a campus substation (multiple buildings). Feeder power meters can also be used to measure any circuit with important loads or specialty equipment such as boilers or chillers.
Incomer: These are your computers. They are highly accurate, can do tremendous calculations, and store data, but mastering them requires some training. These meters are designed for monitoring connection points with external utility sources or local power sources such as solar, wind and distributed energy resources.
You have probably used a wide variety of pens, calculators, and even computers in your life. Your building will likely require different types of meters for different applications. So, in order to ensure your sustainability strategy succeeds, it is important for you to fill your energy backpack with a variety of tools to meet your needs. Meters are just the beginning. To learn more about meters, and how to choose the best option for your large building, refer to this selection guide.