There are many solar watt meters on the market these days and they all seem to be pretty much the same. So how can I know which one is best for my needs? Well, it all depends on exactly how much power you need to analyze with the DC inline watt meter. For most people, they are not needing to read more than 40amps and 200v.
The vast majority of watt meters use MC4 connectors which is generally what most people are looking for. Some will want Anderson Powerpole connectors which are also readily available. For me, the MC4 connectors are what I like to use because they are waterproof and UV proof.
I have found that the BnD Solar Watt Meter is the easiest and best to use for all of my portable solar needs. Whether I’m hooking up to my solar generator or checking how much power is being made off the panels on the roof of an RV it works great.
The problem I have had with all the other watt meters on the market is most of them use 12-gauge wire which is very thin and can only handle about 20 amps of power which aren’t enough for my panels. I needed something that had thicker cables and this one does. The BnD watt meter uses 8-gauge cables and MC4 connectors which easiest to use and I know I’m not going to fry it. I bought a watt meter from Powerwerx and one on Amazon that simply didn’t work well at all and ended both getting fried.
I like the large LCD display screen that is on it because it makes it easy to read at a glance or from far away. Since it’s lit up it makes it easy to read when I’m using it inside too. It does okay in the sun but not great. If I’m using it outside and it’s a bright sunny day I do have to put my hand over the top of the screen to see what my power production is. That’s the biggest downside I have found to this watt meter.
But, on bright sunny days, I don’t worry about ruining it because it is rated for 50amps of continuous power and 200amps of peak power. I’ve never had a 200amp peak on it because I’m using it with my solar panels but it’s nice to know I’ll never over-peak it and ruin it. I also don’t ever run more than about 36amps with my solar panels so knowing that it has a 50amp continuous rating is nice too.
The problem I’ve had with other ones like the Powerwerx and Amazon ones I’ve used is that they didn’t clearly define how much power they could handle. One of them said 150amps peak but didn’t show the continuous rating. I found out that it is rated to 37.5amps. I was running my solar panels with an off-grid solar panel system I have and found out I was putting in 36amps. I felt the watt meter and it was very hot. It felt like it was about to melt. I quickly disconnected the panels from the system and let the meter cool down. It is supposedly rated to 37.5amps but getting close to that seemed like it almost fried the meter.
The other one I had did end up getting fried because it advertised 100amps on it but is actually only rated to 25 amps. I was charging some equipment and had the 100amp meter on it. I came back after a couple of hours to find that my garage was filled with smoke and smelled of an electrical fire. I was very lucky that only the watt meter got ruined and it appeared that once it had officially burned out that all power had stopped going through it so nothing else got damaged. I was very lucky.
Ever since I started using the BnD Solar Watt Meter though I haven’t had a single problem because it’s rated so high. I cannot find any other 8-gauge meters on the market anywhere which is why I use this one. I know it’s not going to burn out on me or get too hot.
It is also rated for UV outdoor exposure which is very comforting. I don’t know about the other ones online, but I have heard of horror stories. People had mentioned that the didn’t have UV proof plastic on the watt meters they had purchased and literally fell apart after a couple of months of use outside. My BnD meter doesn’t have that problem because it is UV rated plastic.
The fact that it comes with a full 1-year manufacturer warranty is nice because I know if it stops working for any reason, I can just get a replacement for free.
One of the other watt meters I had was really confusing to use because nothing was labeled on it. It didn’t identify which side was the Source/Input side and the Load/Output side of the watt meter. I had to call the manufacturer on it and ask which was which and then mark it down with a sharpie. The BnD meter clearly indicates the source (solar panel) and load (inverter/generator) sides. This makes it easy because during the winter I don’t use my equipment very much and every year I need a little refresher.
One of the cool things about the BnD solar watt meter is that it shows me how much power it has analyzed for the whole day. Of course, it shows how much power is being made by showing me the volts, amps, and watts (volts x amps = watts). Each day it shows me how much power has been made so I can see how much I’ve put into my batteries.
I use this watt meter a lot with my at home solar system I have for my shed but also with my Kodiak solar generator. I have since moved onto the Titan solar generator which in my opinion is far better than all the other solar generators out on the market. The Titan solar generator has a built in watt meter so I don’t need the BnD solar meter with it but it is very nice with my Kodiak.
This video shows the watt meter being used with solar panels: