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Arch Rock enlists sensors for energy efficiency

How to make a building smarter about energy use? Start-up Arch Rock bets that its wireless sensors will find a home doing energy and environmental monitoring.

Wireless-sensor start-up Arch Rock thinks it has found a killer application: measuring energy use in commercial buildings.

The company on Monday introduced Energy Optimizer, a product line that combines its Internet Protocol-based sensors with server software for collecting and analyzing energy data.

A wireless sensor placed on data center equipment to measure electricity use. Arch Rock

The sensors can be attached to different circuits in a data center, for example, to measure electricity consumption over time.

Because they have radios to transmit information, the installation doesn't require laying new wires into a building, Arch Rock CEO Roland Acra said. And because they are IP-based, they can be managed on an existing corporate network, he said.

Simply getting more fine-grained information on energy usage will allow businesses to shave their energy bills by 10 percent to 20 percent, Acra said. The company makes a sensor for electricity, and another that measures flow rates for water and gas, as well as light, air temperature, and humidity.

There are dozens of home energy-monitoring products, but Arch Rock decided to target corporations and governments because their heftier utility bills justify investments in monitoring. Energy Optimizer will be available at the beginning of May.

"We thought we could move faster this year by targeting places where there is a will to act," Acra said. "It allows us to capture the momentum inside corporations and government institutions (toward sustainability and energy efficiency) without relying on subsidies.

The cost is $800 for three measurements, and back-end equipment starts at $10,000. The investment makes sense, if an institution has utility bills over $10,000 a year, as it pays for itself in a few years, Acra said.