At least not right now…
Increasingly, the Green ecosystem, announces that “Domotique” in France, the Home Energy Management HEM in the United States, will soon invade our homes to bring us the happiness of both modern comfort and energy frugality required to save our planet.
Indeed, there is not a single day when we read that companies such as Silversprings Network, Trilliant, Digi … for the United States, Ijenko, Vity, lifedomus, Actility or Schneider Electric for France, driven by the announced arrival of smart meters, are finally ready to market their famous Home Energy Controller !
Actually, I think we are still far away of that cool invasion. The main reason is that manufacturers deliberately ignore some key parameters, since they rather prefer to be the first to introduce products in the market.
Facts are persistent, the link between smart meters and home automation control equipment is not for the moment clearly established. Jesse Berst from Smartgridnews.com says : “HEM is only going on in 1% of North American homes (even though 25% of North American homes now have smart meters).
Then the business model remains to be invented:
- Many of the systems proposed, not yet integrated within the online services offered by existing operators are charged for their sole usage value. The cost then becomes critical, killing the decision to purchase. Many startups have died, and others will disappear, for this reason.
- It is not clear that many households invest more than $/€ 100 for an in-home energy display which, in the life of the current sensor battery, will probably never earn as much! How, then, imagine buying a full HEM costing more than €/$ 1,000 with accessories and adding the cost of installation and commissioning!
Last but not least, the hardware is not ready:
- Interoperability of standards, a mandatory requirement for development of the service industry and low-cost production of components, is late and poorly accepted by most industry leaders in place who see it as a threat to their own business.
- The high power appliances like heating, water heater, air-conditioning and lighting are, in most cases, only measurable in the electrical panel. The sensors are not only not really Plug & Play enough but also need to be installed by a qualified electrician. We are far from the business model preferred by French Telco’s sending by mail their Internet gateways.
The kick-start will probably come from: 1- more integration into existing multimedia services, 2- standardized technologies independent of proprietary industry, and 3- technological innovations tremendously lowering costs and improving the ease of use due to an enhanced appropriation of technology by individuals.
The Home Energy Controller War is coming but has not yet really started.