Design Award for Z-Wave Switches? You Heard That Right
March 21, 2011

You usually don't think "great design" when you hear "Z-Wave switch" but Frostdale wins prestigious design award for dimmer with built-in energy monitoring, temp sensor and Braille. Nanogrid Z-Wave-enabled dimmer (also available in ZigBee) features built-in energy monitoring and temperature sensor. Frostdale Co. makes some really cool-looking Z-Wave light switches. Say again? We don’t usually hear “cool-looking” and “Z-Wave” in the same sentence. Normally, we associate Z-Wave dimmers with inexpensive plastic rockers used with inexpensive RF control systems. But Seoul, Korea-based Frostdale was just awarded a Red Dot design award for its Nanogrid wireless light switches

ZigBee and Wi-Fi, So Happy Together
February 28, 2011

A lot of noise and dust is being kicked up over the battle for control of the home energy management network . In one corner: ZigBee, a wireless communication standard devised by the utility industry to address Wi-Fi shortcomings, and embedded into tens of millions of smart meters connected to utilities via AMI (advanced metering infrastructure) communication networks. In the other corner: ubiquitous Wi-Fi, already the de facto home wireless networking standard for homes with broadband internet access.  Does the world really need another wireless protocol for the home if it already has Wi-Fi?

How Can Smart Appliances Save You Money?
February 7, 2011

We'll be hearing a lot about smart appliances in the next year. Companies like GE, LG, Whirlpool and others are showing off intelligent washers, dishwashers, refrigerators and more, which can receive signals from two-way communicating smart meters to help you save energy and money. The signals will be sent wirelessly, likely via the wireless ZigBee radio frequency technology. Most of these smart appliances will only be available this year to homeowners involved in electric utilities' smart grid trial or pilot programs. The bulk of the smart appliances being shown and touted at trade shows today

CES 2011: GE Brillion Smart Appliances Monitor Energy Usage
January 8, 2011

Here at the Consumer Electronics Show, GE is making a big deal about its upcoming line of so-called "smart" energy-saving Brillion appliances. The line, which covers everything from thermostats and water heaters to dishwashers and refrigerators, aims to save consumers money on their electric bills by determining exactly the right time to perform each appliance's most energy-consuming functions. But how does it all work? The most important thing anyone interested in smart appliances—whether made by GE or any other manufacturer—is that your building needs to be outfitted with a "smart meter" (an electric meter that

Sub-Zero May Have First Viable Plan for Smart Appliances
January 6, 2011

Every major appliance manufacturer has shown “smart” refrigerators, freezers, ovens, washers or dryers at some point in the past five years, but none has amounted to anything. Luxury brand Sub-Zero may have the first viable plan for the so-called “smart appliance” category, as we saw in a sneak preview at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES 2011) in Las Vegas.

The company is exhibiting with Control4, its first home automation partner.

Wi-Fi Fires Back at GE Endorsement of ZigBee
December 21, 2010

Earlier this month, GE officially endorsed ZigBee as the wireless standard of choice for smart appliances in a white paper, but the Wi-Fi guys aren’t having any of it. The Wi-Fi Alliance released a statement yesterday denouncing the study as “flawed” and “inaccurate.” Though their response isn’t exactly a surprise, their counterargument merits a look. Key in Wi-Fi’s argument against the GE paper are a few things. Firstly, it argues that GE’s test of power consumption used an older protocol of ZigBee (Smart Energy Profile 1.0) that lacks the security and IP communications

Wi-Fi Alliance Responds to GE's White Paper Heralding Zigbee as Best
December 20, 2010

According to the Wi-Fi Alliance, a recent white paper authored by General Electric comparing the power efficiency of Wi-Fi and Zigbee technologies in home Smart Grid applications is flawed, resulting in inaccurate findings. (Find appliance DESIGN's original story on this topic, here.)The report, titled ?Energy Efficiency Comparisons of Wireless Communication Technology Options for Smart Grid Enabled Devices? compares Wi-Fi and ZigBee, among other technologies, in home Smart Grid applications, focusing on power consumption as the primary evaluation criterion. The report bases its conclusion on measurements of a single implementation each of Zigbee and Wi-Fi, using Smart Energy Profile 1.0,

GE Appliances: ZigBee More Efficient than Wi-Fi for Smart Appliances
December 9, 2010

A GE Appliances & Lighting white paper reports that, of the two leading technologies for home area network (HAN) communications, ZigBee is at least two times more cost-effective and efficient than Wi-Fi. In October, the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) released its "Assessment of Communication Standards for Smart Appliances" and found that Wi‐Fi, ZigBee, and HomePlug Green PHY scored the highest in its evaluation of existing technologies. GE determined that Wi-Fi (802.11/n) and ZigBee (802.15.4) were best for meeting the overall performance and cost requirements for HAN communications. GE evaluated the technologies under typical HAN, smart-device conditions

IMS: 20 Million 802.15.4 Chips, Less Than Half ZigBee-Certified
December 9, 2010

ICs shipped in 2009, less than half were ZigBee-certified, according to IMS Research—but the research firm also reported standardization occurring in home area networking (HAN) devices. In the report, “The World Market for Low-power Wireless – 2011 Edition,” IMS said the market for 802.15.4 ICs using proprietary networking software is often underestimated, but also provided evidence of some application areas standardizing. "In 2010, the product mix of ZigBee, RF4CE, WirelessHART, ISA100, and proprietary solutions using the IEEE 802.15.4 physical layer looks very different to that in 2009," said Lisa Arrowsmith, IMS senior market analyst.

Home Smart Meter Developments
November 2, 2010

Technology companies have been busy recently announcing products to help homeowners monitor and manage their energy usage. Networking companies, cable providers, telecoms, and utilities are all vying for a piece of the nascent, yet rapidly growing, home energy management market made possible by the installation of millions of residential smart meters. Competition is intense as there's a lot at stake. Case in point is Cisco Systems. In June, the company unveiled its home energy controller, which is part of a much larger end-to-end play in the smart grid market that spans solutions for utilities, substation networks, smart meter networks,