It seems obvious when you hear it: combine powerline home network adapters with home energy management and control. Amazingly, Switzerland’s myStrom is the first to do it.
The company has developed turned its powerline home network adapters into on-off switches and power meters that can be controlled via your home network and internet.
It starts as a free service allowing you to turn devices on and off, and for just over £53/year can be turned into a remote power monitoring and control service for the whole home.
To take control, you download a control panel to your iPhone, iPad or Android device and register your adapters online.
The myStrom app lets you measure the energy usage of selected device in real time, get an overview on energy usage and cost, receive SMS or e-mail alerts in case of high energy usage, and switch devices on and off.
Users can also create a schedule to make devices switch on and off automatically, letting you turn on lights and TVs for security, or switching off the Xbox when you want the kids to do their homework.
The first country to get myStrom kit is Switzerland, where broadband provider Swisscom has been giving away kits to customers with its broadband TV service.
One surprise, says CEO Tom Kienle, was that when people could see anonymous power use data for their community, they started competing within their neighbours to save the most power. Watch Tom demonstrate the myStrom ECO LAN interface at the end of this story.
“People want a home network solution today for the TV,” he added. “Nobody is looking for an energy management solution today because they don’t know what it can do, but tomorrow that might be different.
“Customers play around with it and they learn that they can do a lot more than just home networking. Now they know how much power their fridge consumes or their TV consumes.
“Energy becomes visible and transparent, and they see what they can save, and they can see it in Swiss Francs, not in Watts or Kilowatt-hours, which nobody understands.
“These people are the front runners for when energy management becomes more important because energy gets a lot more expensive.”
MyStrom kit is available in two flavours - ECO Control with no home networking, and ECO LAN with a built-in Powerline AV2 500Mbps home network.
The ECO Control starter kit of two adapters costs about £85, with extra adapters about £33 each. The ECO LAN starter kit costs about £110, plus about £60 for each additional unit.
Kniele said they can sell them to anyone in Europe online via mystrom.org, but myStrom’s goal is for broadband and TV providers, energy utilities and other companies to provide them as part of a service.
Retailers like IKEA - soon to move into TV - or Currys could even start selling the devices, then using the power usage information to recommend energy-saving alternative products like fridges or cookers to users.
Beyond power management, myStrom plans to move with hardware supplier Asoka to add other devices such as cameras and thermostats for home monitoring, and are working with home automation businesses like Z-Wave to integrate new devices without powerline networking.