The major difference between the Monster and a regular variac, excluding looks and bells and whistles, just talking about performance, is the fact that the Monster constantly adjusts the voltage for you, where the variac stays at whatever position you set it at. IE: if you adjust a variac to produce an even 120v, when your wall voltage is at 113, then when you get voltage fluctuations from the power company, your variac cannot adjust for them by itself. It will maintain a 7v increase, or whatever you have it set for. If your wall voltage increases to 120v, then your variac will be putting out 127v. The Monster will constantly adjust the voltage for you, within a few percent. Monitor your wall voltage. If you have a lot of power fluctuation, a standard variac is not a good idea, because it really won't solve your problem. If your wall voltage is fairly consistent, then a variac could be beneficial to you. Hope this helps!
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