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SmartGrid Transitions chronicles both the technological and professional transitions that will result from re-energizing the world.

Technology transitions are fascinating to observe as well as participate in. This site aggregates a number of sources relevant to SmartGrid technology. Suggestions and comments are always welcome.

Growing a massive new industry will involve significant professional transitions as well. An influx of newcomers such as myself will be needed to start new companies and do new jobs. We are all trying to learn this new space: New acronyms, new business models, new assumptions. Let's do it together!

hack-a-watt - a homemade HAN testbed on a shoestring

Friday, April 10, 2009

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Finally, I get to do a technology post!

A while back, a colleague was telling me about their interest in prototyping some HAN (Home Automation Network) concepts as quickly and easily as possible. As a control guy, that got me thinking about the simplest sensor-controller-actuator I could configure.  The Kill-a-Watt can measure power consumption, but is fairly useless as a sensor that integrates into a controller. However, a little web searching uncovered twittering-kill-a-watt, showing you how to graft an XBEE radio on your device. On the actuator side, you've got x10, which gives you the software controlled switches, as well as a PC program to control them. 

Now the missing piece is interfacing the sensor and control.  Amazingly enough, there seems to be an API out there for the X10. I know very little about XBEE, but it seems to be a standard implementation of ZigBee, and I didn't have any troubling finding open-source toolkits out there.  So there it is ... Less than $100 in HW, and a little soldering, and you can cycle your Fridge compressor off when your dishwasher goes onto 'dry' cycle, dropping peak load by an imperceptible amount. 

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