Category Archives: electricity

Get Smappee for Energy Efficiency at CES 2018



The efficient use of electricity is a win-win: it both saves money and saves the planet. At home, energy-efficient LED lightbulbs have all but replaced incandescent bulbs, which means the quick wins are gone. The next step is to identify the big energy consumers in the home and that’s where Smappee comes in. Stefan and Don save the world.

Smappee is an energy monitoring system that identifies the energy usage and behaviour of major appliances in the home. Each fridge, AC unit, cooker, TV has a unique electrical “fingerprint” and over time the Smappee monitor works out which appliance is starting and stopping, sometimes with a little help from the homeowner. With this information, Smappee shows the running cost of each one in the complementary Smappee app. Anything that consumes more than 20W can be identified but really the wins are with devices that use kilowatts of power.

Smappee doesn’t require an electrician to install Smappee as it uses a sensor clamped round the live cable coming from the meter. Nothing needs to be cut or permanently installed.

Smappee is available now for US$350.

Don Baine is the Gadget Professor and gives lectures at TheGadgetProfessor.com.

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SolarGaps Solar Panel Smart Blinds at CES



The trouble with solar panels is that they take up a fair bit of space, typically on the roof of a property, which means that those living in apartments or condos often miss out on the opportunity to generate electricity from the sun. SolarGaps have a solution to this issue, with solar panels that also work as blinds, both generating power and shielding the interior. Todd talks to Erik at SolarGaps to find out more.

SolarGaps smart blinds are fitted to the exterior (or interior) of windows and automatically track the sun to maximise electricity generation and minimise heating effects. Installation is straightforward and each panel on the outside generates around 100 W-hrs per square meter so a south-facing 3 bedroom apartment could produce around 4 kW per day. As the blinds track the sun, the output is typically 20% higher than the equivalent static photovoltaic pnel. The blinds can be fitted inside too but this reduces the power output.

SolarGaps is launching on Kickstarter in February with a price around US$480 per square metre, rising to around $1000 per square metre when the product is launched, so if you are interested, get in early.

Todd Cochrane is the host of the twice-weekly Geek News Central Podcast at GeekNewsCentral.com.

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