Breaking News
News & Analysis

Smart grid hits snag over powerline standard

NIST lays out a challenge
11/30/2009 05:00 AM EST
7 comments
NO RATINGS
Page 1 / 2 Next >
More Related Links
View Comments: Newest First | Oldest First | Threaded View
Ginger45
User Rank
Rookie
re: Smart grid hits snag over powerline standard
Ginger45   12/2/2009 8:26:46 PM
NO RATINGS
Honestly, I'm not willing to invest one cent in extra gear to support smart grid. Projected savings of 4% nationally by 2030 does not warrant any extra investment on my part. We, the consumers, are already paying for deployment through stimulus funds (taxes) and I'm sure the utilities will find a way to charge us for the cost of upgrading the grid. In today's dollars I would save about $5/month in electrical bills (based on the 4% estimate), but the net change in my month costs will likely be positive. Hardly worth the effort!

KenKrechmer
User Rank
Freelancer
re: Smart grid hits snag over powerline standard
KenKrechmer   12/1/2009 11:34:44 PM
NO RATINGS
Generic adapters can work if there is a protocol to negotiate which of the different modes of operation is to be selected/downloaded. Such a protocol I term an adaptability mechanism and it requires standardizing. Without such an adaptability mechanism the user is stuck trying to figure out which of the different modes of communications work in a specific installation.

rick merritt
User Rank
Author
re: Smart grid hits snag over powerline standard
rick merritt   12/1/2009 9:37:34 PM
NO RATINGS
So that's three strong votes for generic adapters. Any other options?

embeded
User Rank
Rookie
re: Smart grid hits snag over powerline standard
embeded   12/1/2009 9:43:16 AM
NO RATINGS
I live in Boulder, CO, were the power utility (Xcel) has just installed Smart Grid to the home. In effect, they just wired the whole city with fiber to the home. With the proper adapter, my toaster has the ability to talk to Xcel's Smart Grid network at a faster rate than my home network (which is only cable, no fiber Internet connection is yet available in Boulder and probably won't be for years). I'm not sure why fiber bandwidth is required. How often do they intend to sample the power usage of each appliance? If each appliance just sends a simple "I'm on/off" message, the total bandwidth should be minimal, even when aggregated over all the homes in Boulder. Does Xcel want to know every time the appliance changes its power usage even by a little? What's wrong with just recording the aggregate power usage for the home? The fact that fiber is needed implies they will be collecting a *lot* of data, and possibly sending out a *lot* of control messages. Just the idea that Xcel will have a database of every major appliance in Boulder and its usage pattern is not a pleasant one -- especially since they have demonstrated a willingness to share that data with the city government by already giving the city each home's total electricity usage for the month so it can be taxed for the city's "Climate Action Plan". As I understand it, powerline will only be used inside the home to the smart meter connecting your house to the Smart Grid. I've used powerline adapters before, and found that they are indeed somewhat quirky. In some rooms I've gotten 100 Mbps, in others just 13 Kbps (yes, K). These were $150 units which presumably could afford some means to minimize noise. Right now, the city's Smart Grid efforts are stalled by a lack of devices to connect appliances to the Smart Grid. I understand there are a few clunky prototypes used in demo homes, but nothing commercial yet. I am *very* reluctant to invest in something that will support an early, obsolete standard. If the industry settles on a standard that Boulder's preliminary Smart Grid installation does not support, nobody will be supplying appliances that support Boulder's Smart Grid. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is for the industry to standardize before a lot of Smart Grid is installed. Appliance makers cannot support a bunch of different standards in a cost effective manner. The truth is that homeowners operate on much smaller budgets than businesses which can support the higher costs of flexibility. Some have said that converters should be software upgradeable, but that just adds significant cost. Ideally, every major appliance will have a converter, and if it's not around $20 each, the cost will be prohibitive. This is especially true when you have to overcome the cost of installing the Smart Grid infrastructure itself. Boulder's installation cost is around $1000 per residence. Another article on this site says Smart Grid will provide only 4% savings when fully implemented. That means you don't break even on installation costs until you use $25,000 worth of electricity, which can be 20 years or more. Using similar reasoning, even a $20 Smart Grid adapter for a major appliance won't pay off until that appliance uses $500 of electricity. For most appliances that will be several years, or perhaps not even over the lifetime of the appliance.

jonsmirl
User Rank
Rookie
re: Smart grid hits snag over powerline standard
jonsmirl   12/1/2009 2:16:39 AM
NO RATINGS
There is no need to pick a physical layer. Pick them all and then implement IPv6 over them. Put a USB stick into a wifi router or have a little bridge device. If people won't pay $20 for a bridge they probably don't care enough to make use of the data either.

KenKrechmer
User Rank
Freelancer
re: Smart grid hits snag over powerline standard
KenKrechmer   11/30/2009 8:18:22 PM
NO RATINGS
The desire of NIST for a single wireless and wireless standard reflects a very old fashioned view. When interfaces are computer controlled and memory is very low cost, there is no technical reason to have a single standard. All that is needed is an adaptability mechanism that allow each side of the interface to identify, negotiate and select which compatible interface is to be used in common. NIST should be focusing on standardizing adaptability mechanisms not compatible interfaces.

JMWilliams
User Rank
Rookie
re: Smart grid hits snag over powerline standard
JMWilliams   11/30/2009 7:40:24 PM
NO RATINGS
There is a major problem with using the power grid itself to transmit control information: Most service entrances collect noise, and users requiring quiet power will very conveniently remove the noise at the entry point by means of a line filter such as a ferrite core clip-on. However, removing noise from the line also would remove the power control signals discussed in this article. A better plan would be to use an FCC reserved frequency band to broadcast the control information independently from the power. This would not require any capital expenditure or other accommodation by the power provider and could be incorporated by electrical equipment manufacturers at their leisure. Furthermore, immediate adoption of smart-grid Federal standards could be implemented; if changes later were found necessary, a different frequency band or encoding scheme could be defined. Decoupling of the control from the power supply obviously has many advantages, as would decoupling of the control hardware at the receiver end from the specific frequency and encoding standard being used for broadcast. In addition, RF can have unpleasant biological effects on humans such as tinnitus; there would be some liability incurred by any power company adding RF, especially digital RF, to its power lines. If the control was broadcast separately, sensitive individuals and equipment could be shielded easily, perhaps at the cost of having to ignore the available "smart-grid" features. Globbing everything in the "smart grid" into the power lines doesn't seem to be a very smart idea.

Flash Poll
Radio
LATEST ARCHIVED BROADCAST
EE Times editor Junko Yoshida grills two executives --Rick Walker, senior product marketing manager for IoT and home automation for CSR, and Jim Reich, CTO and co-founder at Palatehome.
Like Us on Facebook

Datasheets.com Parts Search

185 million searchable parts
(please enter a part number or hit search to begin)
EE Times on Twitter
EE Times Twitter Feed
Top Comments of the Week