CES 2011: Smart Plugs and Energy Monitors from Intelligy, Current Cots, Modlet and More

smart monitor intelligy photo

Photos via Jaymi Heimbuch

The connected home is a big theme at this year's CES, and part of that is the use of smart plugs and monitors for managing home energy consumption. There are no small number of adapters and equipment for both at the plug and meter levels on display, showing that consumers have a broadening range of options for trimming energy use. Intelligy, pictured above, is just one of these systems. It has a Power Monitoring Switchat the plug level, and a Power Monitoring Device at the meter level. The information from both end up on the touch screen display above. By monitoring the screen, users can see household energy consumption and make changes in what appliances and devices they're using, and when. This is a fairly standard system set-up, and it certainly isn't the only one coming to consumers.

smart plug current cost photo

Current Cost has a somewhat less flashy set up. It is a Google PowerMeter device partner, which means a user can access their data using PowerMeter as the handy dashboard. The user doesn't have to stick to a monitor, but can find out how their home's energy consumption is doing via any computer or smart device like an iPhone or, yep, the iPad.

smart plug energyhub photo

EnergyHub allows you to control appliacnes and devices from the touchsreen dashboard. It functions with a ZigBee-enabled smart meter, but you don't have to have one to be able to use the system -- you can use an add-on for your current meter that measures home energy usage.

smart plug modlet photo

The Modlet from Think Eco is based around simplicity. Consumers don't have to worry about when an integrated smart grid and connected homes will be a reality. Like the other brands, the Modlet relies on plug-n-play ease. In following that ease, it also skips the monitor -- the plug wirelessly transmits energy data about the appliance connected to it to a user's computer. The plugs can be entirely controlled from a PC.

These are among the many devices making their way from idea to store shelves for owners. It's a way to conserve energy and make a home more efficient. However, on their own they aren't enough. It would take years of curbing vampire power to offset the embodied energy in one of these devices. But they're a necessary step in creating an entirely connected home where whole-house energy consumption can be trimmed. That's where the real savings will happen. It's great to see so many companies working to get us there.

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