We’ve been covering energy monitoring and the huge hole that exists in the home control market to show your energy use in an easy way. (See “Saving Energy with Wireless Mesh Networks” and “Affordable Energy Monitoring.”) The really good news is that there are low-cost systems becoming available.
One of the most affordable and simple may be from Threshold Corporation, a Northern California company due to release a suite of affordable and easily configured wireless control products in August. Threshold will offer a smart box Home Controller along with home energy management and security devices ranging from motion detectors to temperature and humidity controls, alarm clock radios, video cameras, and energy monitors–all based on a WiFi standard called One Net that Threshold developed.
The Home Controller replaces or works with an existing wireless router in your home and features a readout screen that can display, among other things, the energy consumption of your electronics and appliances that are plugged into separate power control modules. The power control modules also allow you to operate these devices, while calculating the power usage and delivering that data wirelessly to the controller, says Threshold CEO James Martin.
Threshold says the controller will sell for sub $300 and each power control module for under $40. There are also plans for a $500 starter kit for home energy and security management. The controller can display power usage for the week, month or year.
The big selling point for Threshold products are the way devices like security cameras and others can be easily added to the network, without the hassle of loading software and typing in all those pesky network variables. You just hold the devices near each other and all the necessary information to add something to the network is done. But we really like the energy savings potential as well
“The next stage for consumers to get better at conserving energy will happen by feeding them data about their energy use,” says Martin. He adds that people don’t want to spend $600 or $700 just to look at data, but that a system will have value if you can use it for something else, such as home control.
“I think people will see some surprises [when they see how much power some devices use], and they’ll be motivated to turn them off and on.”