GreenWave sails into crowded home energy scene

Stepping into a busy corner of the smart grid, GreenWave Reality introduces a consumer suite of energy management tools currently being tested in Europe.

Martin LaMonica Former Staff writer, CNET News
Martin LaMonica is a senior writer covering green tech and cutting-edge technologies. He joined CNET in 2002 to cover enterprise IT and Web development and was previously executive editor of IT publication InfoWorld.
Martin LaMonica
3 min read

GreenWave Reality on Wednesday unveiled a home energy management system, joining a pack of companies with gadgets for tracking and reducing home energy.

The company, which has its main offices in Copenhagen and Irvine, Calif., also said on Wednesday it has raised $11 million, including $5 million from Craton Equity Partners.

Plugging in an appliance such as a refrigerator or dishwasher into this "power node" means its energy use can be monitored and remotely controlled. GreenWave Reality

GreenWave Reality was founded by tech veterans who most recently worked at Cisco's consumer business group, which sells Linksys routers and other products. The company is seeking to apply the focus on low cost, standards, and ease-of-use from the consumer electronics field to home energy, according to CEO Greg Memo.

Its home energy management package is a combination of hardware and software, including an application to view and control home energy use and a set of devices, such as a small energy display and wireless power strips, to create a wireless network of plugged-in appliances. GreenWave Reality has also developed an energy-efficient LED bulb which can be controlled by its home automation network.

"What we really created is a platform, an energy-management platform where products will work with our infrastructure but you can extend it to whatever devices you like. The light bulb is a good example of that," Memo said.

But don't expect to find these products on retail shelves anytime soon. GreenWave Reality is betting that utilities are the best channel to bring these products to market. The company's gateway product uses Zigbee to communicate with a utility smart meter and either the Zigbee or Z-Wave protocols for the home network of connected devices.

Items plugged into the company's network-enabled power strips and plugs allow them to connect to the system. A starter kit will cost about $200 and include access to a Web portal, which can also be accessed with in-home display or smartphone applications for the iPhone or Android. The LED bulb will be the equivalent of a 60-watt incandescent and cost about $20 by the end of the year, Memo said.

The GreenWave software includes settings, such as night or away modes that turns off lights and appliances at a certain time. People can also view electricity consumption room by room.

Studies have shown that regular energy monitoring helps people shave electricity bills by 5 percent to 15 percent, which can improved by automatically turning off lights or running large appliances at off-peak times. But in the U.S., there's concern that utilities are installing smart meters without giving consumers tools or an explanation on how they benefit from the additional information meters can capture.

Home energy displays show you the juice (photos)

See all photos

One of the big challenges facing smart-grid companies building consumer-oriented gear is selling to slow-moving utilities. GreenWave Reality is currently pilot-testing the home energy management system with utilities in Europe, where deregulation has made utilities more motivated to retain customers than in the U.S., said Memo. Utilities are also investing in energy monitoring and control to meet greenhouse emission reduction targets, he said.

The home network and software can be extended to manage gas, water, or electric vehicles, Memo said. Combined with sensors, this home automation network can also be used for applications, such as home security or monitoring elderly people, he said.