Mod #3: AC Voltage Monitor
Submitted on: 06/07/08
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An AC voltage or line monitor can be a real cost saver. From the simplest analog gauge to the techie digital do-it-all meter, these devices can warn you of impending electrical doom. Well, not exactly. But they can warn you if the AC voltage is too low or too high just by glancing at the meter. This can save you money because you have a chance to shut off power to the RV before low or high voltage destroys your precious electrical/electronic systems and components. Campgrounds are notorious for poor power quality so no matter which type you choose, you can save yourself a lot of grief.
There are a few popular meters widely used by RVers. The first type is the AC analog volt meter. You simply plug it in to any AC receptacle in your RV and it displays the line voltage using a needle and a voltage scale. Green means good, red means bad. If this is all you want to monitor and precision isn’t necessary, then this is the gauge for you.
The other popular type is the digital volt meter. Like the analog gauge, these are simple digital equivalents that only monitor voltage. However, you must know what is too low and too high a voltage value in order to decide to go off the grid. Just glancing at the meter doesn’t give you a warm fuzzy from a good/bad perspective. However, some of these simple meters also have audible alarms to warn you of voltage problems as well as polarity issues.
Finally, there is a pretty nice monitor called the Kill-A-Watt. Not only does it monitor line voltage, but it can also calculate usage, cost, power consumption, and measure line frequency, all in a nice little form factor at a reasonable cost. You plug it in to a receptacle just like the other voltage monitors described above. Then you plug in a device or appliance in to the monitor and see how much power it draws. This is very useful in that if you have an inverter you want to power the device or appliance, you can know the exact power consumption and size your inverter accordingly. Or if you just have a burning (no pun intended) need to know about how you use AC power in your RV, then this is the monitor for you.
ModMyRV recommends these parts for this mod:
TRC AECM20020-3-012 Electra Check Digital Monitor for all AC Power Sources, Black with White Face
Prime Products 12-4058 AC Power Line Monitor 12-4058
Kill-A-Watt Electricity Consumption Meter