Despite Google’s talk that energy data should be free and accessible to everyone, at this point it’s mostly owners of commercial and industrial buildings that have been investing in often expensive and complex energy monitoring systems. But startups like Lucid Design Group, a 5-year-old company that was founded out of research from Oberlin College, are trying to make the technology a bit more “entry-level,” as Lucid puts it. This morning the company is touting a starter version of its standard product — a wireless energy-monitoring network and software called the Building Dashboard — that is cheaper and easier to install.
Lucid, which was a winner at the California Cleantech Open business competition in 2007, has been working on bringing down the cost and ease of installation — and even creating a more consumer-oriented version — for awhile. Back at the end of 2007, Lucid CEO Michael Murray explained to us that he could see Lucid one day selling a system that the buyer could install for roughly $200 through a distribution channel like Best Buy, and then charge $3 or so per month for a service subscription.
While the starter dashboard isn’t that consumer-friendly option for home-owners, it offers a lower price and can get two buildings wired for “under $10,000.” It’s also easier to install, because, in contrast to the largely custom work that Lucid has done in the past, the starter dashboard is standardized to work with most meter and electrical systems and Lucid has partnered with the manufactures of the hardware to ship it directly to customers, and provide technical support. Lucid says the starter dashboard, which you can buy via the company’s web site, will fill the need of commercial building owners who have been asking for a lower-cost, simpler way to monitor energy and can act as a test run of the system before installing the original product in a larger rollout.
Despite its lower cost and easier installation, it’s still a far cry from a Best Buy box that you buy on sale and plug-n-play. An electrician still needs to install the technology. And Kate Gerwe, Lucid’s COO, explains to us “the price point still feels high for a residential product, and we are continuing to focus on the commercial market.”