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GE's connected, energy-savvy home (photos)

General Electric is showing off its digital energy offering at CES, including a home energy manager, wind turbine, and electric-vehicle charger.

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Martin LaMonica

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GE Energy display

LAS VEGAS--GE is showing its home energy products at the Consumer Electronics Show, including a energy display now under development and expected in the third quarter this year. When connected to a smart meter, the display can show people how much energy they are using in real time or over time. It also provides a way for utilities to alert consumers of events, such as a critical peak-time energy period when electricity will be more expensive.

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GE Nucleus

The hub of a GE home energy network is this small device, called Nucleus. It uses Zigbee to gather electricity usage information and control smart appliances and to communicate with a smart meter. It can store about two year's worth of usage data. GE is working on a way, probably ready in the first half of next year, to get information into Nucleus without a smart meter.

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Home charging with a Volt

Plugging an electric car into a home socket draws about as much power as an entire house. That's why people expect that consumers will want to take advantage of off-peak rates, which GE and other chargers can do. Scheduling charging also reduces stress on the grid, during peak times which run into the early evening. Typically, these chargers will operate at higher voltage to speed up charge time.

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Small wind turbine

Southwest Windpower's more efficient small wind turbine was also at GE's booth, since GE is an investor in the company. With a good wind resource of 12 miles per hour, Southwest Windpower says its turbine can generate 7,400 kilowatt-hours of energy per year.

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Smart appliances

A smart appliance is one that can be connected to a home network for monitoring and control. GE's smart appliances use Zigbee and add about $50 to $70 to the cost. They make sense in places which have variable utility rates so people can schedule when to do jobs or so utilities can send a signal through a smart meter that critical peak rates are in effect.

The screen on the right shows the dashboard for managing home energy, which can be accessed through a PC or smart phone app.

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