There’s a new energy monitoring system coming out, and the custom electronics market is watching it very closely.
The eMonitor from PowerHouse dynamics can monitor a home’s electricity usage at the circuit level, which is much more than most inexpensive energy monitoring systems that only provide a total readout of electricity. And the eMonitor doesn’t cost an arm and a leg like commercial-grade systems from Agilewaves and Lucid Design Group.
The system’s price, according to PowerHouse dynamics CEO Martin Flusberg, will vary. Dealers are getting the systems for about $384 per circuit breaker panel, plus $6 per month subscription that provides alerts, such as when something is left on or won’t come on in the house. Expect a retail price of about double that. But that’s still nowhere near the entry price of comparable systems.
The eMonitor system consists of a processor containing an embedded web server, which sits near the home’s electrical panel. Twenty-four sensors clamp onto the power mains and 22 circuits to provide granular feedback of your energy use.
PowerHouse dynamics isn’t selling its own display device yet, but the data can be viewed on a computer via an Ethernet connection. A WiFi connection will be available in the second quarter, says Flusberg. The processor is also ZigBee-enabled to communicate with two-way smart meters being rolled out as part of smart grid utility trials, though a smart meter is not necessary for the eMonitor system to work.
One feature that sets the eMonitor apart is that it will offer recommendations to help people save energy in their homes. For example, it can spot if a device has been left on and help you stop wasting vampire power from unused electronics.
“We can interpret what people are seeing and what they can do about it,” says Flusberg. “We can even give you a tool to see how much you can save.”
The eMonitor can be used with home control systems. Apple-based Savant has already integrated eMonitor control, and PowerHouse dynamics says it is working with other home control companies on enabling integration. Some dealers may do their own integration.
The units are currently shipping as demo units to be used in some dealer showrooms and for dealers to get used to it, but Flusberg expects to be shipping products for sale some time in February.
The eMonitor will be available from custom electronics (CE) pros, as well as solar system installers and security dealers. For do-it-youselfers, the system will be available at energycircle.com, where there’s a blog poston the installation. It should be installed by a licensed electrician.
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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