Beacon Smart Power: The Safely Connected Home

Beacon Power Corp.'s Smart Power M-Series comprises integrated 4-kWatt and 5-kWatt solar power storage and management inverters. The systems convert DC power to AC for home use, helping reduce electricity costs. When the utility grid fails, they provide uninterrupted power for critical loads, either by the photovoltaic panels or via integrated battery backup. The systems are digitally controlled and monitored via an LCD display or an Internet-based remote management tool. “The system is self-contained, so there is no flow back of power to the grid that could injure a worker,” says Beacon spokesman Gene Hunt. (

Coolerado Cooler: Advanced Air Conditioning

Through an all-indirect evaporative cooling technology, the Coolerado Cooler works without adding moisture to the air. Company co-owner Rick Gillan says the system offers a digital option for $200: an electronically commutated motor that improves efficiency by another 30 percent and allows more precise motor control. “Controlling fan speed with a rheostat, as most air systems do, doesn't save any electricity when the fan is running slower; it just dissipates the excess electricity as heat,” explains Gillan. “The digitally controlled EC only uses the amount of energy needed for a given speed.” (

GridPoint: TiVo for Electricity

GridPoint's intelligent energy management appliances offer a digital alternative to generators and appeal to tech-savvy home buyers. The battery-based backup system can store and manage energy the way digital video recorders stash away TV programs. They integrate with renewable energy sources and can be monitored by GridPoint's operations center.

GridPoint's products were marketed initially to the green builder niche, but quickly garnered interest among production builders, says GridPoint CEO Peter Corsell. Expect to see the technology in the massive Quay Valley Ranch community, a proposed self-sustaining development of 30,000 homes in central California. “We're seeing some other proposed communities already being repositioned as green, which tells us that energy efficiency is going to be a major differentiator of homes very soon,” says Corsell. GridPoint is in negotiations with a major provider of home appliances to create a co-branding venture aimed at builders. (

WeatherTRAK: Sunny Outlook

HydroPoint's WeatherTRAK is a digital irrigation system that creates a watering schedule based not only on landscape features (soil type, slope, and plantings) but also on information about evapotranspiration rates gleaned from weather data and beamed to the controller each day. The homeowner inputs basic information about the home's landscape, and the service takes over from there, drawing on information delivered wirelessly from 14,000-plus weather stations. (