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Alliance aims to bring smart grid to home nets

Posted: 29 Mar 2010 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:smart grid? home network? Zigbee? Bluetooth?

The Smart Grid Interoperability Panel (SGIP), an overarching board driving the NIST effort, has chartered a separate group to investigate ways to harmonize wireless home network standard. The group, chaired by a standards director from the Consumer Electronics Association, has not yet reached a conclusion about what path to pursue.

Another committee under the SGIP has drafted a white paper taking the position that the market must be left to decide what physical layer technologies will be best suited for linking appliances in the home.

"No knowledge base exists on how consumers will utilize smart appliances, [and] no single technology choice can cover all applications," says the draft paper now online. "Allowing any mechanism other than the market to decide is not only ill advised, it is anti-competitive," it concludes.

Evolving spec
Meanwhile, members of the U-Snap Alliance are set to announce products based on the groups. The specs call for a 1.5 inch-square module that could cost less than $10 translating existing home network protocols into a low-level SPI link.

The initial work on the spec was done by Radio Thermostat Co. and a group of graduate students at Berkeley under a grant from the California Energy Commission. They borrowed the idea of the PCMCIA card used in notebook computers. The alliance was formed to hold and promote the intellectual property behind the spec which is still evolving.

"We formed this concept because it was clear industry was not going to be able to narrow down home area protocols for some time," said Haaser.

The initial spec is geared for wireless networks including Radio Data System, Wi-Fi, Zigbee and Z-Wave, targeting wireless thermostats. A version 2 of the spec is due in June that adds support for the Smart Energy 1.0 protocol and a broader set of home appliances including water heaters, energy-use displays and home automation devices for irrigation, lighting, pool pumps and spas.

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