Control4 Showcases Energy Management System at Autovation

September 24, 2009

Control4 demoed the Control4 Energy Management System (EMS) 100 at Autovation 2009. The EMS 100 combines the functionality of a home area network controller with demand response support, with a wireless thermostat and energy management software to provide utilities a cost effective, flexible, home area network solution for their smart grid deployments.   Leveraging award winning Control4® Home Automation product technology, the EMS 100 is the only home energy management solution that delivers customer usage data via the smart meter and a standard’s based, secure platform that can control virtually every device in the home.

“Our products support today’s regulatory requirements to proactively engage the residential consumer by delivering data via the smart grid to facilitate energy efficiency.  But the ability to control devices in the home, particularly during peak load and demand response events, is the key component to energy management that only Control4 provides, ” said Will West, Control4’s CEO. “By providing an easy-to-use, engaging consumer experience that’s coupled with automated device control, utilities can help their customers play a far more active role in managing energy use, which will contribute to generation and distribution efficiencies.”

The system aggregates energy usage data from various loads and presents the information in an intuitive display so that customers can make changes in their home to reduce energy usage or set up their in-home device to automatically do it for them. The EMS 100 serves as a valuable communications tool, providing utilities an efficient means to alert customers of demand response events and send signals directly to devices in the home during peak times.

The EMS 100 solution features the following:

  • The Control4® Energy Controller EC-100 5-inch color touch screen display – The EC-100 delivers usage data and energy costs for the home and the ability for the customer to take such actions as powering down lights or adjusting shades to reduce energy use.
  • The WT-100 Thermostat – A simple, elegant, ZigBee-based programmable wireless thermostat that connects directly to the EC-100 for total control of heating and cooling throughout the home.  Programming the WT-100 thermostat is managed through the EC-100 display.
  • Control4® Network Management Software – Control4® Network Management Software enables the monitoring, optimization and reporting of all deployed energy controllers.  The network management tools provide cost effective Tier 1 technical support and remote diagnostic capabilities.
  • Control4® ECO Software – Control4® Energy Consumption Optimizer (ECO) Software collects, analyzes and compresses energy use and behavior data on the EC-100, then communicates with the utility’s load management software to treat demand response events as a dispatchable resource.  
  • Control4® platform – The standards-based, secure Control4® software platform is based on industry standards of embedded Linux and Adobe Flash Lite.  The platform is secured through ZigBee SE, SSL, and OpenSSH technology.  The platform is extensible, allowing third parties to develop new applications, providing enhanced functionality to the system over time. For example, utilities can develop their own applications such as the monitoring of gas and water or a home’s carbon dioxide output.
  • Control4 Automation & Control — Using ZigBee, Wi-Fi and Ethernet standards, Control4’s solutions give homeowners the ability to control and automate their thermostats, lights, spa or pool, sprinklers and more, to manage power usage with one easy to use interface.
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PR Can Help Utilities Build Community and Support for Smart Grid Roll Out

September 21, 2009

I believe the Smart Grid is an eventuality. It may come with or without fanfare, it may be accepted begrudgingly or met with whole hearted resistance, it may even be greeted with open arms by some, but of this I am sure, for it succeed as utilities want, the utilities have to step up and educate their communities about what it is, what it means and what it does and doesn’t do.

I’ve talked to a number of homeowners and I’d like to offer three very different perspectives on what they think the Smart Grid is and what it means to them and offer my view on why utilites need a PR firm.

Laura, John and Family

With three kids, this affluent family runs a lot of electricity. TV, lights, video games, hot water and appliances not to mention the array of mobile devices and laptops are always being charged. When I asked them if they had heard of the Smart Grid they said they had not, when I explained what it was and what it could do and how it could even help them manage their electricity consumption to save money, they thought it sounded great that they could be “green”. LOL

My Parents

This is a tough one. My parents are die-hard Rhode Islanders, and they’re republicans. My dad is a blue collar guys who feels the sun sets based on what Rush Limbaugh says. My mom is an MBA with a high profile job. They simply do not get that there is a problem and a need for energy conservation; my dad thinks he’ll be dead by the time it matters. Either way there is no way he is going to let the government control how much electricity he can and can’t use. No way no how, not going to happen. SIGH

Craig and Kelli

An engaged couple living in their first house, they are trying to save enough money to pay for half their wedding and honeymoon. Constantly worried about their monthly bills, the economy has taken a toll on both their incomes. They realize that spending less means doing without or cutting back. Neither had heard of the Smart Grid, but knows about the local wind power project. When I asked if they use a device that helped that understand how they could save money by reducing their electricity they loved the idea.

So of all three homeowners, none of them had heard of the Smart Grid. None of them know about the efforts and grant money National Grid has applied for to bring two-way meters to New England. If National Grid wants this deployment to succeed, they and utilities like them, have to look to driving awareness around this project. If people in neighborhoods think that this about government control, people will not cooperate and the project will fail. If homeowners are not excited about using energy management devices then they simply won’t use them. And if they don’t use them than this was for nothing.

Utilities should look at three approaches to building community support for Smart Grid roll outs:

Social Media: Using Twitter and Facebook, utilities should look to top utility heavyweights like Duke and Nashville Electric Service both of whom have active grassroots campaigns designed to build followers, engage their customers and communicate everything from outages to demand response events.
Town Hall Events: Just like the Presidential campaign, utilities can invite key stakeholders like government officials, industry experts and community members to question and answer events designed to educate and enthuse the public for the coming Smart Grid deployment.
Demo Center: National Grid (and others) should create a demo center where the public is invited to come see what the meters will look like, how they will work and again, educate the users on how this will function in their home when a conservation event occurs or if they want to reduce their energy bills.
These are just some early suggestion, there are obviously other options such as trade shows, literature, a solid grassroots PR campaign and of course advertising, but education will be the key to public awareness and acceptance of the Smart grid and must be done at a local level not by the federal government.

Hmmm, I wonder if Caster can help National Grid with its PR plan?

Posted by KDL | follow me on Twitter: newscaster