New Technology for Electricity Monitoring & Reporting Built into Electrical Receptacles and Switches

EPA Contract Number: EPD12013
Title: New Technology for Electricity Monitoring & Reporting Built into Electrical Receptacles and Switches
Investigators: Thorn, David W
Small Business: ThornProducts LLC
EPA Contact: Richards, April
Phase: I
Project Period: March 1, 2012 through August 31, 2012
Project Amount: $79,812
RFA: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) - Phase I (2012) RFA Text |  Recipients Lists
Research Category: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) , SBIR - Green Buildings


This EPA Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) Phase I proposal addresses the need for more widespread electricity usage conservation and user cost reduction via behavioral changes and via efficiency improvement. Efficiency improvements are through equipment and appliance change out but also via long-term efficiency monitoring. This needs to be a sustaining level of conservation and efficiency verification as opposed to a one-time effort.
The current problem is that more location-specific usage information is needed to direct users and building managers to where the best spots are to focus their ongoing efforts. Present monitoring and reporting solutions do not provide the “all points monitored” or they make it too expensive and too much user complexity to implement.
A solution is a very economical, short Return-On-Investment method for getting electricity usage from every point in the building or home along with a quick-to-understand, near-real-time report including targeted advice so that the best action to take is obvious. ThornProducts intends to provide this via economical electricity monitoring built into sockets, switches and into a miniature wired-in-line device for hardwired devices. This requires a new, innovative, simple but reliable transmission method to a central receiver so that the components of the sender circuitry can be small, simple, ultra-low power and very economical, putting the workload on the receiver unit. The receiver also will provide compatibility with existing management systems and portals via the central receiver.
The primary purpose of this Phase I SBIR project is to develop at a laboratory level this new transmission technology. Verification testing will be conducted in the laboratory and a very small live building test. These Phase I sender-and-receiver breadboard test units will not be a product design but research will occur to verify their feasibility. A demonstration of an easy-to-understand user interface also will be provided.
Preliminary study and laboratory work has been conducted by ThornProducts to demonstrate what is planned and to make some progress on credibility that a very small and very low power consumption sender unit and a simple transmission communication method are feasible.
Subsequent product commercialization would provide the actual sender circuitry, full capability central receiver design (hardware and software) and simple user interface via a web portal server and FCC, UL, CSA and similar industry certifications.

Supplemental Keywords:

electricity, electricity usage, electricity conservation, electricity monitoring, green building, SBIR, energy conservation, greenhouse gas reduction

Progress and Final Reports:

  • Final Report