I bought one of these Kill A Watt gadgets which tells you how much energy a given appliance uses. This is especially useful when you want to know how much an appliance uses when it’s not turned on. My results have been very modest, btw. When it’s not on, my Dell computer, for example, along with its ISO-Bar uses a combined 3 watts. I can live with that.
So, after having ‘played’ with the Kill A Watt for a few times, to satisfy some curiosity, I parked it on the kitchen table to take downstairs the next time I go. My boys asked me what it was and I had to go into the whole speech about how things use electricity, and that electricity isn’t free, etc.
So, in order to demonstrate to them how it worked, I plugged in our Panasonic microwave oven.
Well, I don’t know what happened.
When I plugged the oven with the Kill-A-Watt in, it was using 3 watts. I explained to the boys that when I turn the microwave on, however, they can expect that number to go up really high.
I turned the microwave on, but to my surprise, the Kill A Watt showed numbers changing every SECOND, up and down, sometimes going to 1,950 watts (it’s a 1,250 watt oven) and while the boys were losing interest, I stopped the “demonstration”.
That was enough of that.
Only, after I plugged the microwave straight back into the wall, it didn’t work. The clock worked and the ‘menus’ worked, but when I went to run it, it ran for like one SECOND then shut off.
Today, I’ve bought a new one for $143, rather than waste two afternoons of my time plus the time I wouldn’t be using a microwave, plus at least $80 in order to get the old one fixed and who knows if the repair would really fix the problem?
If you want to know how the ‘disposable society’ is made, that’s the answer – that the VALUE of repairs often exceed the VALUE of getting a new one.
If they made such things in a way that they would be cheaper to repair, or that we could repair them ourselves (and would you really want to “play” around with a MICROWAVE OVEN?) then maybe I woudln’t have been drawn into my decision.
But now I’m scared to use the Kill A Watt on anything of value.
I wonder if this was just a coincidence, a “bug” of some kind just for microwave ovens or even just Panasonic microwave ovens (which boasts a special “inverter” circuitry).
I’ll let you all know if something more happens!
Follow up: I have made contact with the guy at Research Associates who has one of these. Seems to be a real electronic whiz. Said he never had a problem.