Control4 readies first smart grid home-control module

Local power companies all over the country are helping to built a 21st century smart grid, complete with smart meters, which talk back to the grid, attached to your home. Control4 is getting ready to deploy its home Energy Management System (EMS) EC-100 so you can monitor and control not only your home's energy consumption via data provided by the smart meter, but your AV system, security, lights, HVAC, etc.

In March 2010, the EC-100, which has a 5-inch LCD touchscreen, will be initially deployed by the Bluebonnet Electric Cooperative in Austin, TX, in 35,000 homes in the first wave and an additional 30,000 in a second wave. The control module actually displays your energy use in a variety of subcategories (lighting, kitchen, air conditioning, etc.) in dollars, and lets you automate your home to conserve energy. For instance, as the sun comes up, an expanded EMS Control4 Home Area Network (HAN) system could automatically lower the shades or, when you leave a room or your house, the system automatically adjusts the thermostat to use less power — in other words, your house could run on energy-saving cruise control.

In case you've never heard of them (honestly, I hadn't until I got to Atlanta for CEDIA), Control4 sells arguably the most affordable and simplest home automation system around, along with a whole bunch of inexpensive modules to control everything from your AV system to window blinds, all controlled using the ZigBee wireless control spec from your HDTV via one simple remote.

As the smart-grid/smart-meter trend grows, Control4 will supply the EC-100 to local power companies to distribute or sell at a subsidized price to their customers, or perhaps sell them directly to consumers. All TBD.