Smart meters—electrical meters that allow consumers to keep track of energy consumption and let utilities monitor real-time energy usage—are being rolled out quickly across the U.S., thanks in large part to billions in stimulus cash from the government. There's just one problem: These smart meters need to communicate with appliances, consumers, and utilities, and a standardized protocol doesn't exist. That's where SmartSynch's new GridRouter comes in.
The GridRouter is a virtual communications hub for the smart grid, allowing smart grid-enabled devices to communicate using ZiBee, WiFi, WiMax, or any other communications standard. Since the device contains four networking card slots, a single GridRouter can even handle more than one communications protocol at once. And as technology advances and protocols change, the GridRouter can adjust.
SmartSynch first offered up its prototype device to North Carolina-based Duke Energy in April, and the company has since partnered with other utilities as well. One of SmartSynch's utility partners has already ordered 5,000 units. When the device becomes mass-produced, SmartSynch estimates that it will cost around $500. Rest assured you'll probably see GridRouter's headed to your neighborhood sometime soon—as we discussed when SmartSynch first announced its plans for a so-called universal communications model, the GridRouter has the potential to future-proof the smart grid.