Power Testing with a Kill-A-Watt Monitor

Kill-A-Watt meter monitoring energy use of a toaster appliance


The model P4460 Kill-A-Watt power meter is a device used to monitor power use of household plugs and appliances. The Kill-A-Watt power monitor allows:

  • Measurement of real time line voltage (Volts), current (amps), power (Watts), apparent power (VA), frequency (Hz), and power factor (PF).
  • Recording of cumulative energy consumption (kWh-kilowatt hours) over a period of time.
  • This meter does not require a computer interface.

NOTE: The Kill-a-Watt meter must be plugged into a receptacle to operate. Data is stored on the device so it can be unplugged, however write down results as soon as possible to avoid data loss.

Kill-A-Watt meter displaying amperage information

Monitoring Plug Loads

  1. Plug the Kill-A-Watt into an outlet. The monitor must be plugged into a receptacle to operate and display values. 
  2. Reset the Kill-A-Watt monitor:
    • Press and hold the RESET button under the display until “rESt” is displayed.
  3. Press the Menu button until “Volt” is shown on right side of the display.
  4. Press the Up or Down buttons until Watts is displayed. 
  5. Plug the equipment into the receptacle on front of the Kill-A-Watt.
  6. Turn the equipment on to the desired setting, use the equipment as intended.*
  7. Observe the readings for the first 30 seconds and note the highest number displayed. Record this value. 
  8. Observe the reading again, once it has settled to a consistent number. Record this value.
  9. Use the equipment as intended or for a minimum of 15 minutes or as you normally would. 
  10. Use the Up or Down buttons until Amps is displayed. Record this value.
  11. Unplug the equipment from the Kill-A-Watt monitor.
  12. Press the Up or Down buttons until kWH is displayed. Record this value.  

Information Required When Testing

  • Manufacturer, Model Number and Serial Number
  • Photo of the device
  • Settings Used
  • Demographics:
    • Approximate Elevation
    • Age and approximate weight of the user
    • Responsible Party – Number on the Kill-A-Watt device
  • Duration of the Test - Start and Stop Times
  • Ask the tester how many days/week and hours/day the equipment is used
  • Age of the device (if known)
  • Was the equipment used as intended during the test or simply run unused. E.g. CPAP mask worn versus unworn during the test period.

List of Potential Equipment to be Tested

  • Aerosol Tent
  • Air Mattress/Hospital Bed
  • Apnea Monitor
  • Automatic Door Openers
  • Breather Machine (IPPB)
  • Ceiling Lift
  • Chair Lift
  • Communication Device
  • Compressor/Concentrator
  • CPAP/BiPAP Machine
  • Defibrillator
  • Dialysis Machine
  • Electronic Nerve Stimulator
  • Electrostatic Nebulizer
  • Elevator/Stair Lift
  • Equipment Monitor
  • Heating or Cooling System for body temperature regulation
  • Hearing Aid Charger
  • Hemodialysis Machine
  • Infusion Pump
  • Inhalation Pulmonary Pressure
  • Left Ventricular Assist Device (LVAD)
  • Motorized Wheelchair
  • Oxygen Generator
  • Power Scooter
  • Pressure Pad
  • Pressure Pump
  • Pulse Oximeter/Monitor
  • Refrigerated Medication (i.e. insulin)
  • Respirator (all types)
  • Suction Machine
  • Total Artificial Heart (TAH-t)
  • Ultrasonic Nebulizer
  • Ventilators
  • Vest/Airway Clearance System
  • Wound Care Management

Center for Inclusive Design and Engineering (CIDE)

CU Denver

The Hub, Bioengineering

1224 5th Street

Suite 130

Denver, CO 80204


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