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As much as we hate wasting energy, few of us have access to the real-time data that helps manage against that waste. Learn about the best ways to bring usage data all the way to your phone!

The Promise — Delivered!

We at Emporia Energy promised anew hardware device for the Fall of 2019.  It’s is here!

Tools That Measure

There are two basic methods for measuring electricity.  Each approach entails differing expense and effort for the consumer.  But, both costs and complexity are trending downwards.  Simply put, continued development around the internet-of-things (IoT) and connected “smart” homes has made tech more available to all.  

Method #1: Using the Utility Meter

Optical Output

Of course, hardware mounted outside our homes already provides near-time information – albeit in an inconvenient location and format.  Utility meters just aren’t a part of our domestic lives!  To get over this, devices exist to read optical output from the meter and to deliver it to in-home displays.  However, most utilities do not permit — and will remove — anything attached to their meter.  Further, these devices require batteries and obviously are located on the exterior where theft may present a problem.

Radio Frequency

AMR Meters

Alternatively, it is possible to read output already broadcast from meters for billing purposes.  These signals come from two types of meters: one-way (also called “AMR”) and two-way (also called “AMI” or “smart”).  AMR signals transmit over the 900-MHz range and can be read by anyone with the right radio receiver.  Such systems need no equipment out-of-doors, but typically do require programming skills to format data for homeowners.  Further, many of these now-legacy AMR meters are approaching their end of life.  In response, utilities are increasingly swapping out AMR units in favor of AMI ones

AMI Meters

Currently, the US has installed nearly 80 million AMI meters.  That figure represents more than 50% of the estimated 150 million electricity devices deployed in the US.  In contrast to AMR, AMI meters do not broadcast to a general audience, but rather only to the utility.  That said, in certain markets, these meters can be equipped with a ZigBee transmitter readable by consumer devices once authorized by the utility

Multiple devices exist in this category. Many of these devices can send data either to an in-home display or to a Wi-Fi bridge to provide mobile access.  Like an AMR receiver, these devices remain safely indoors.  The only real downside is found in hardware cost and reliance upon the utility for commissioning.  Nevertheless, after an initial surge of new entrants in the mid 2000s, many companies have exited the ZigBee energy space.  The incumbent leader in the group of remaining companies is probably Rainforest Automation.

As a further complication, not all AMI meters provide the wireless transmission option to consumers.   Which leads to discussion of the second set of available tools…

For this reason, we chose to take on the additional task of building hardware for our intended platform.  In the process, we elected to develop two hardware devices: one for each of the data-collection methods described above.  We believe that offering two devices promotes consumer choice and fosters wider adoption.    

The Emporia Vue: Two Solutions

Through the Utility’s Wireless Connection

Where utilities offer ZigBee wireless AMI connectivity, Emporia is also developing a device that merely requires plugging into a home power outlet.  This device bridges the ZigBee signal data through Wi-Fi to the Emporia cloud services.  By our best estimation, this option will work for somewhere between 20 and 40 million consumers in the US.  Also likely to be available by Fall 2019, this device will deliver relative ease of physical installation, but does require interfacing with the utility for on-boarding.  However, data will only stream every 5 – 8 seconds, compared to continuous data for the CT solution above.  That said, the ZigBee-based Vue will also operate with the Vue Expansion Module — thereby delivering added flexibility and choice to consumers.  

Benefit to Consumers

The Emporia Vue differs markedly from current devices in many ways.   Distinctive features revolve around improvements to cost, performance, and user experience.  Specifically:

  • At less than $45 (!!!), the Vue clearly enhances consumer value and achieves a rapid payback on savings
  • Options around measurement principal (CT or ZigBee) as well as expansion ensure great versatility for users
  • Co-branding opportunities for Emporia partners and providers of home services
  • A convenient means for offsetting pollution impact for the energy that we unavoidably must use on a daily basis  
  • And finally, the real-time app interface allows users to select their time increment as well as the units for comparison
Photograph of a consumer using Emporia Energy's mobile app to measure and manage energy use.
Emporia’s app to measure and manage energy use.

With respect to this last point, recall that hardware only represents one part of Emporia’s platform.  The other component, software, further distinguishes this system from the current market.  Briefly, Emporia’s app is easy to use and attractive.  Further, it recommends how best to save money and resources.  To meet this objective, Emporia monitors not only demand-side usage, but also supply-side costs.  All in the interest of saving consumers money and reducing carbon.

We at Emporia seek to partner with consumers during this latest US energy transition.  The goal is better to measure and manage energy use.  Along the way, we also pledge to provide insight and savings.  We are a young company, eager to share what we have developed so far!  We are further motivated to receive feedback on what we have already built.  

Purchase Emporia Vue Hardware

Installed behind your home’s main breaker box, the Vue works in any market.  Though homeowners can often complete this installation in 15-20 minutes, Emporia nonetheless recommends hiring a qualified electrician.  However, as a reward for installation, the Vue provides highly granular data and the ability to monitor individual circuits.  

Click here to choose your Vue, whose price represents a true game-changer in the field!  Note that for convenience and choice, we also provide Amazon links where available for the other energy monitors discussed in this article or presented in the comparison table above.  

Reap the Rewards of Success

Simply put, Emporia seeks to put consumers in control of their energy data.  By viewing this data in real time, consumers can expect to save between 3% and 13% through awareness and simple conservation.  However, Emporia has established the bold goal of saving consumers up to 50% on energy spending over time.  Consumers will achieve this level of savings through a combination of app-recommended strategies that will compound over time.  Better yet, these opportunities for savings will only increase as utilities proceed further into the renewable-energy transition.

Think about it:

  • Extra money in your pocket — month after month
  • 24/7 monitoring of your home’s energy demand
  • The ability to monitor individual circuits — and even large appliances
  • No more nagging concerns about wasting money and energy
  • Comfort in knowing that your benefits also help the planet

Emporia sees this confluence of interests as the ultimate win-win — and hopes you will as well.  Please join us!

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