If any one home control company is closest to offering true energy management solutions, it has to be Control4.
At this week’s Consumer Electronics Show, the home control company is showing off energy monitoring apps for its home control systems and showing how its network can connect to kitchen appliances from Sub-Zero and Wolf. The company is also responding to home connectivity solutions being rolled out by big service providers ADT, Comcast and Verizon with its apps for
desktop computers and tablets, in addition to existing apps for iPhones and iPads.
Energy Management Apps
Control4’s My Energy app works with the TED 5000 energy monitoring device to help homeowners manage and monitor their energy consumption. The app offers two views: Dashboard and Electricity Use. With Dashboard, homeowners can see their home’s price per kilowatt hour (kWh), cost per hour, current use and “So Far Today,” as well as a graphical view of their consumption today versus yesterday. In the “Electricity Use” view, homeowners can view two-hour real-time data, historical data for the week, month and year, and a comparison of current consumption to previous period, same period last year, and average daily outside temperature.
In addition, energy management software company Eragy has an Energy Monitoring Plus app for Control4. This provides homeowners the ability to monitor their whole house energy consumption as well as energy used by individual appliances and circuits within their homes, via an eGauge home energy monitor. With the app, homeowners can monitor their energy usage from their TV screen, iPad, Control4 touchscreen, smart phone, or web browser.
Future offerings from Eragy will include Intelligent Home Energy Management solutions that enable a Control4 system to dim lights or perform other functions if, say, a preprogrammed ceiling on energy use is reached. The company also has designs for high-current relays that allow the system to shut down appliances automatically. The ability of a home control system to turn off or turn down devices automatically to save energy will be a key in selling effective energy management systems.
Eragy also plans software to allow homeowners to see the benefits of switching to different electric utility rate structures to save some serious money. What Eragy is doing in home energy management is truly important and groundbreaking.
Control4’s own EMS-100 energy monitoring system, consisting of a 5-inch EC 100 touchscreen and a WT-100 programmable thermostat, is still being made available only to electric utilities rolling out smart grid programs, though Control4 has gauged response for offering the system through dealers. “The EMS is definitely on a roadmap,” says Control4 president and chief operating officer Glen Mella. “What we need to do is rather than just offer it as another screen, is have it available on the Control4 network and system. The software apps will probably be the first foray into that,”
Control4 has also announced that some Sub-Zero refrigerators, Wolf ovens and Sub-Zero wine storage units can be integrated into Control4’s home networks, so homeowners can manage appliances through a Control4 system.
Eco-conscious homeowners can program Sub-Zero freezers and refrigerators to maximize energy efficiency by automatically setting ice-making production and other energy-intensive functions to lower levels at different times of the day. Homeowners can also automatically adjust settings to accommodate specific lifestyle needs, such as increasing ice production prior to entertaining guests. Users have the option to receive alerts that allow them to manage and monitor the energy usage of the appliances.
The connections with Control4’s IP (Internet Protocol)-based networks are through wireless ZigBee technology and info relays by Card Access, along with software drivers.
“We are still at very early stages in the advent of connected appliances,” says Glen Mella, president and chief operating officer of Control4. “You’re starting to see companies put out products that are ZigBee or Z-Wave-enabled. [Z-Wave is a wireless technology rival to ZigBee.] We have put the technology between the wall and the appliance.”
Sub-Zero and Wolf’s E Series ovens and built-in units are compatible with Control4.
Home Control company Control4 is getting more heavily into the connectivity game with its Control4 My Home family of software apps that allows homeowners to access and control lighting, temperature, music, movies, energy, security and more on desktop computers or tablets, in addition to the existing apps for iPhones and iPads.
Broadband providers ADT, Comcast and Verizon are rolling out mass-market home connectivity solutions, though Control4 says it will continue to serve the custom electronic market. “This is becoming more of a mainstream solution, whereas a few years ago it was just something for the rich and famous,” says Susan K. Cashen, vice president of marketing for Control4.
The Control4 My Home iPad app and Control4 My Home iPhone/iPod Touch app are available on iTunes. The Control4 My Home PC/Tablet app will be available at www.control4.com. All apps require a one-time persistent family license or single license and a Control4 system. The Control4 My Home family license is $499, which allows homeowners to download multiple apps for multiple devices in the home. The Control4 My Home single license is $199.