Scientists at Sandia Create Self-Monitoring Smart Outlet

The researchers envision the technology to develop into microgrids that can reconfigure themselves while being integrated into a larger electrical smart grid hierarchy.

The technology is based on four receptacles that are integrated into the outlet and include "voltage/current sensing; actuation (switching); a computer for implementing the controls; and an Ethernet bridge for communicating with other outlets and sending data to a collection computer."

Microgrid-enabling smart outlets could become invaluable devices as electricity supply from alternative energy sources such as wind and solar energy is less predictable and could benefit from a outlets that can manage demand on-the-fly and compensate for production variations. According to the researchers, the smart outlets will support bi-directional monitoring of electricity flow and can turn each energy-producing location to turn into an "energy island" if the main power grid goes down.

Scientists also believe that such a system would be more reliable as it reduces the chance of a single-point failure and it would be more secure as it could identify malicious control actions and prevent their distribution in the grid.

There was no information when such devices could be available commercially and how much they may cost.

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  • fuzznarf
    Yay, now with smart-meters on your house they will not only have the ability to restrict your amperage in your house, but also the ability to turn of specific devices that 'use too much' electricity. Smart-meter restrictions are already happening. Can't wait for this.... :(
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  • danwat1234
    I don't like this. The idea of having large appliances (if consumer enables the feature) be able to ease grid load during peak times by cell-phone tower communication is enough for me. I'm all for smart grid and electric cars (come on nanowire Li!) but highly regulated power outlets would be a pain in the butt. I'm sure it would all be optional so no worries.
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  • unther
    Great, more electronics in household wiring. At this rate harmonics will start to become a problem in houses as well.
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