Already available are several working and affordable energy management systems that utilize Wi-Fi, Z-Wave and ZigBee wireless technologies such Schlage’s Nexia Home Intelligence (door locks and Trane thermostats), Somfy’s TaHomA (motorized shading, lighting and thermostat control) Reliant’s e-Sense (available just to the Texas utility’s customers, for now) and more. Motorola even showed a Connected Home Gateway that plugs into a power outlet and looks for devices to connect to.
Yet there were also impressive displays from companies more closely associated with HDTVs than whole-house energy management. Panasonic, Samsung, Toshiba and LG all showed or talked about home energy management systems that can connect home control with smart appliances, electric vehicle chargers, solar electric systems—you name it.
Jean-Claude Junqua, vice president of Panasonic R&D Company of America, discussed how Viera Connect and the company’s Connected Home Vision can bring the Smart TV and the connected home together. “It integrates energy management with TV, social media, EV charging, your videos, content that you can send to the car.”
Samsung showed how a solar electric system can send power to a solar battery, which connects to a home gateway and appliances so you can decide when to run an appliance, depending on changing electric rates to come from utilities as part of their smart grid services. LG displayed not only a home energy management system but how appliances like a refrigerator and oven can communicate with recipes and ingredients for someone with dietary restrictions. And Toshiba’s Life Design Box, due at the end of the year, will be a home gateway and Home Energy Management system that it says will include home automation, remote health care and home security.
All pretty cool, though most of these systems may ultimately rely on the now-almost mythical “smart grid” ever-so-slowly being rolled out by very cautious electric utilities. Or will they?
“Says Kevin Messner, Vice President, Policy & Government Relations at the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM): “First you connect the home. Once there’s a connected home, then you can have connections to the smart grid.”