An industrial client asked me what meters to buy. My honest professional advice: do not buy any, because whatever meters you buy you will be disappointed later. Here is why.

I am a strong proponent of measuring energy use. No sensible energy project can be implemented without measuring. Simplifying William Thomson – “to measure is to know”. (William Thompson is more commonly known as Lord Kelvin.) Buying a meter brings plants to “know” as much as buying a measuring tape makes me a tailor.

If energy management were a stool, meters would be its one leg. You can’t sit without it, but you can’t sit on it alone either. To sit one needs a stool with all legs.

Here are some questions a wise plant manager must ask (and answer!) before signing a PO for meters:

  1. What questions do you want answered?
  2. What and how much will you gain with these answers?
  3. How much do you lose not knowing the answers?
  4. What risks do you accept without having these answers?
  5. Who and how will transform data into answers?
  6. What resources will be required to process metered data into actionable information?
  7. How accurate should answers be?
  8. What methodology, software and hardware are required to perform analysis?
  9. What energy and non-energy information is needed for this analysis?
  10. What activities will be put on hold while this person produces answers?

Answering these questions requires effort, no doubt. An alternative is to buy any number of any meters and forget about them at once. Installation is optional. If installed, they will be a toy for a month at best. I saw this done.