The smart grid initiative has encouraged utility companies worldwide to roll-out new and smarter versions of energy meters. Before an extensive roll-out, which is both labor-intensive and incurs high capital costs, consumers need to be incentivised to reap the long-term benefits of such smart meters. Off-the-shelf energy monitors (e-monitors) can provide consumers with an insight into such potential benefits. As e-monitors are owned by the consumer, the consumer has greater control over the data, which significantly reduces the privacy and data confidentiality concerns. Because only limited online technical information is available about e-monitors, we evaluate several existing e-monitors using an online technical survey directly from the vendors. Besides automated e-monitoring, the use of different off-the-shelf e-monitors can also help to demonstrate state-of-the-art techniques such as non-intrusive load monitoring (NILM), data analytics, and the predictive maintenance of appliances. Our survey indicates a trend towards the incorporation of such state-of-the-art capabilities, particularly the appliance-level e-monitoring and load disaggregation. We have also discussed some essential requirements to implement load disaggregation in the next generation e-monitors. In future, these intelligent e-monitoring techniques will encourage effective consumer participation in the demand-side management (DSM) programs.
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