February 23, 2011
| by Steven Castle
BlueBolt, a cloud-based energy management system used primarily for audio/video systems, will expand later this year to include energy monitoring and control of specific devices throughout the home.
Panamax/Furman, the company behind BlueBolt, will introduce a plug-in load control device and a wireless bridge that communicate with each other via the ZigBee wireless mesh network protocol. Users and custom electronics installers can then see the energy usage of the devices in the house and control them via web-based interfaces on computers or mobile devices. A variant of the plug-in load controller will be available to electric utilities for smart grid rollouts.
BlueBolt is available with select Panamax/Furman’s BlueBolt-equipped power conditioners and battery backups that are used primarily in home theater and audio/video systems. In addition to monitoring energy usage and cutting power to components to save energy and curb wasteful vampire power, BlueBolt can be used to remotely reboot components and receive diagnostics, saving both homeowners and custom electronics (CE) pros from costly visits.
The MD2-ZB two-outlet plug-in module contains two discretely sensing and controllable outlets. Lights on the unit indicate communications and ground faults. The home version to be sold with the wireless bridge will also contain surge protection, according to the company. One bridge can work with several of the MD2-ZB modules to form a ZigBee mesh network in the home. The target price for the devices is $100 each. This means the bridge and direct plug-in would be $200 together, and $100 for each additional plug-in unit. BlueBolt remote monitoring will come with the devices.
Plug-in modules for appliances may be introduced in 2012.
According to Marshall Currier, national trainer for Panamax, electronics dealers are implementing BlueBolt into control systems, so BlueBolt can remotely monitor and reboot a control system, acting a secondary backup system. BlueBolt works with Control4, Crestron, RTI, Savant, URC and others to come, the company says.
The most recent BlueBolt software version 1.2, introduced last August, contains a number of energy management and budgeting options:
- Ability to enter utility company per kilowatt hour (kWh).
- Budgeting alerts.
- Conservation events, such as turning off outlets on a schedule.
- Auto rebooting.
Panamax/Furman products that currently work with BlueBolt include:
- Panamax M4320-PRO IP Power Conditioner
- Panamax M4315-PRO IP Power Conditioner
- Panamax MB1500 IP Uninterruptibe Power Supply (BlueBolt card sold separately)
- Furman F1500 IP Uninterruptibe Power Supply (BlueBolt card sold separately)
The company says the plug-in ZigBee modules will be controllable by third-party control manufacturers, assuming they create compatible drivers.
Panamax/Furman does not charge a fee for BlueBolt monitoring, opening a possible revenue stream for custom electronics dealers to charge customers to be electricity auditors, of sorts.
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates