GreenWave Reality Smart Home Services

GreenWave Reality LogoTodd interviews Greg Memo from GreenWave Reality, a global innovator in the emerging smart home services market including home monitoring and elderly care. On show is their home energy management solution that uses wireless (ZigBee) plug-in devices to monitor and control power consumption.

The system is not just limited to power management as other remote monitoring and control technologies such as lighting and video can be included. The complementary iPad app allows the homeowner to select individual rooms within the property and make adjustments if necessary – for example, a thermostat could be turned down or the timings changed to alter when the heat comes on.

The overall solution won a CES 2012 Innovations Award so congratulations to GreenWave. Available now, starting from $200.

Interview by Todd Cochrane of Geek News Central for the TechPodcast network.

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GE Southwest Skystream 600 Wind Turbine

Andy Cruise from GE Southwest Windpower discusses the GE Southwest Skystream 600 Wind Turbine. It is designed for consumers who have at least an extra half acre of land and of course, wind !!!

Interview by Scott Elliot of Geek News Central.

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It’s True, I’m a Hoarder

Lightbulb Image

It’s true.  I’m a hoarder.  If there were a support group, I would probably need to join it.  But as a hoarder who doesn’t think she has a problem, I probably wouldn’t join it anyway.  You would never hear me say, “Hi, I’m Susabelle, and I’m a Hoarder.”

That’s because I’m not ready to admit I have a problem.  In January, 2012, we will no longer be able to purchase incandescent light bulbs in the United States.  I, however, am addicted to them, and have started stockpiling them in my garage.  Not like a whole garage full of them.  But more than a couple three-packs.  And I intend to buy more before the end of the year.

It’s all about the quality of the light.  We have CFL’s in certain places in the house where the lighting isn’t as important to my ability to see:  in overhead lights that are rarely used, in the front porch light, in the garage.  We have already figured out that CFL’s in the light in the range hood over the stove are a bad idea (they can’t take the heat and break easily).  We’ve also figured out that if we want to read for more than a few minutes, or do any kind of craft work that relies on color (painting, scrapbooking, sewing, quilting), that CFL’s are not the bulb of choice.  The colors are “off” and eyes get tired quickly.  I still prefer sunshine whenever possible, but in the absence of sunshine, I’ll take a good, warm, color-true incandescent bulb.

I know CFL’s are cheaper to operate, and maybe, if they work for years, they cost less than incandescents to purchase.  But so far, I’ve not found them to be a decent value for their lifespan.  Not to mention I’m kind of an eco-conscious gal and prefer to not throw mercury in the landfill.  The truth is, when it comes down to it, I don’t like the light a CFL delivers.  Either it is too bright and glaring, or not bright enough.  It creates weird shadows, and the flickering can be deadly if you have a seizure disorder (my son has epilepsy).  I prefer my incandescents, and being a “woman of a certain age,” I can also say that I see better with incandescent lighting than I do with CFL’s.

“What about LED’s?” I’m sure you’re asking.  LED’s have an even worse flicker than most CFL’s, and the light, while bright, is not true and also doesn’t provide enough light in most circumstances.  Once again, I prefer the incandescent over the LED.

So are there other hoarders like me?  Yes, there are.  Says Susan Drake of Marietta, Ohio: “I have stocked up on enough incandescent bulbs to last for the next 50 years.” I am certainly not alone.  I don’t have 50 years’ worth.  Yet.  I won’t live 50 more years, I don’t think, but these days, you never know.  I can get three-packs of Sylvania brand incandescent bulbs in 100 watt, 75 watt, and 60 watt for a buck at the local Dollar Tree.  They have plenty of them.  For now.  Until I buy out their stock.

Maybe that’ll be my next paycheck.

“Hi, my name is Susabelle, and I’m a Hoarder.”

GE Nucleus for Home Energy Management

Andy and Tom interview Elizabeth Kurfess, Product Manager for General Electric on GE Nucleus, a home energy management system. As utilities start to install smart meters on the outside of homes, the Nucleus unit wireless communicates with the smart meter to bring information on power consumption and tariffs into the home, allowing the homeowner to make intelligent decisions about the use of electrical power.

The information held in Nucleus can be shown on the homeowner’s PC or smartphone so that a real-time view of power consumption can be seen.

Nucleus can also connect to GE’s Brillion-enabled household appliances (white goods) to get information on consumption and instruct the appliance to stop or start depending on price. For example, a tumble dryer could be told to start drying once the cheap rate cuts in or stop if an expensive tariff comes on-line.

Wireless communication uses the Zigbee specification to pass the information between the appliances, the smart meter and the Nucleus. Information comes from the meter every15 seconds. Unfortunately, not every smart meter uses Zigbee – each manufacturer is different.

Interview by Andy McCaskey of SDR News and Tom Newman of The Fogview Podcast.

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Whirlpool Energy Monitoring and Management – CES 2010

Whirlpool is leading the way in energy monitoring and management. Whirlpool is demonstrating energy management panels and device that will track how consumers are using their products and help consumers in the future save energy. While not available today 2011 or 2012 is the target date for Whirlpool Energy monitoring and management introduction. Coordinating various appliances integration will be a major challenge in this endeavor.

Interview by Andy McCaskey @

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PowerFilm Portable Solar Cells – CES 2010

PowerFilm Portable Solar Cells are both consumer and military grade flexible panels. These amorphous silicon solar cells offer an extremely rugged and inexpensive array. A 7 watt panel is about $150. The design compensates for physical damage. Their newest panel is from $80-$100 and charges through a mini-USB connector, suitable for cellphone. In the future, both commercial and residential rooftop systems will be available from Powerfilm.

Interview by Scott Elliot @

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The Perfect Rechargeable Battery?

I don’t know about you, but I’ve always found that the rechargeable batteries that replace disposable batteries somewhat lacking.  The nickel-cadmiums (NiCd) suffered from the memory effect and the nickel metal hydrides (NiMH) eliminated that, but still lost charge when not in use.  I’m currently using the Hybrio / Eneloop batteries which solve both of the above, but they still lack power, largely because they’re only 1.2V instead of the juicy 1.5V of disposable batteries.  I’ve even a few gadgets that simply won’t work with the lower voltage.

So, if you are like me and have children who get through batteries faster than a knife through butter, you might be interested in new nickel-zinc (NiZn) batteries that are coming onto the market now from a company called PowerGenix.  The best bit is the voltage on these is 1.6V  and by all accounts, they last well.  Once the technology gets picked up by the mainstream battery companies, it will probably improve further.

They’re available now in the US but they don’t seem to have made it over to the UK yet.  As soon as they do, I’ll get a few to test out and compare against the Hybrios.

Also on the battery front, this article from the BBC highlights the issues around lithium production and why there is likely to be a shortage in the not-too-distant future.  Looks like good news for Bolivia but bad news for the Salar de Uyuni.

P.S.  I checked the technology out on Wikipedia and I was surprised to see that NiZn batteries were used on the Dublin-Bray train in the 1930s and 40s.  Had problems with limited discharge cycles, mind you.