Blog Post

GE digs deeper into the smart energy home

Stay on Top of Enterprise Technology Trends

Get updates impacting your industry from our GigaOm Research Community
Join the Community!

GE(s GE) is launching more gadgets to help consumers monitor and manage their home-energy consumption. On Tuesday, GE unveiled a whole-home sensor that can fit onto an electricity panel box, or an energy-hungry 240-volt device such as a pool pump, and then send energy-consumption data back to GE’s energy-managing device, the Nucleus, and over to a cell phone or computer.

GE also said it will start selling smart-energy plugs that also act as sensors for the 120-volt devices plugged into them and that can similarly send data to the Nucleus and cell phones and PCs. The whole-home sensor will be available in the second half of 2012 and is being tested in utility pilots such as Flint Energies’ home-energy pilot project.

Almost two years ago, GE revamped its home-energy strategy around its home-energy management router, the Nucleus, and its smart-energy Brillion brand. Quite frankly, you couldn’t get a simpler piece of hardware than the Nucleus. It doesn’t display any energy information directly to the consumer but acts as a wireless communication device — with two wireless ZigBee radio chips, a Wi-Fi chip and an Ethernet port; it can connect a smart meter and smart appliances a consumer might have, and hooks back to the Internet to show energy information via a website or mobile device.

The only thing that makes the Nucleus more than a standard wireless gateway and router is that it’s got some memory, so that consumers can store up to 3 years of energy information, and software that can connect with utility energy and pricing data and can be controlled from a website or mobile app. For that drop-dead basic connectivity and software layer, the Nucleus will cost between $149 and $199. GE was previously experimenting with a higher-end, and more expensive, energy dashboard, which it has now replaced with the basic Brillion line.

There’s still a looming question about how interested consumers will be in energy-saving devices like these from GE. But gadget makers, telcos, cable companies and startups continue to launch energy-saving devices and services, so there’s clearly at least a niche market emerging.