ThinkEco Looks To Drive Stake In ‘Vampire Power'

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New York - ThinkEco has shared details of its simple plug-in solution for cutting the power consumption of commonly used appliances and CE devices.


The company is bringing to market its first product, the Modlet, a plug-in adapter, or "smart outlet," that monitors and controls the energy use of any appliance or device that is plugged into it by cutting power according to a manually programmed or preset schedule. Standby power consumption -- "vampire power" -- is significantly reduced.

Through wireless Zigbee browser-based technology, a user can schedule when the Modlet (a riff on "modern electric outlet") cuts power cold to each device according to a schedule customized on a PC through a simple slider interface. According to ThinkEco, the Modlet monitors power draw in real time, second by second.

ThinkEco co-founder and chief business officer Mei Shibata said that plugged-in appliances make up a significant share of residential and commercial energy use today: 40 percent of residential and 26 percent of commercial, on average -- about $10 billion of wasted energy annually. Plugged in appliances and CE devices are the fastest-growing energy load in both sectors and are expected to triple by 2030 as consumers continue to buy more electronic devices.

Shibata said the Modlet can save a household 10 percent to 20 percent off its electricity bill with minimal effort out of the box and as much as 40 percent with diligent programming. The actual amount depends on the types of appliances and how much the Modlets are used.

Shibata pointed out that the Modlet saves significant power even with Energy Star-certified devices as the standard uses average power consumption as its baseline and disregards peak cycles. The Modlet's real-time monitoring takes peak cycles into account and suggests settings to minimized their impact.

Some results from ThinkEco's pilot testing program, underway now, show that the Modlet can save approximately $25 to $160 a year when used with a printer, $150 to $200 with a cable box/TV set-up and $40 to $60 with a PC.

On the enterprise side, one medium-sized New York-based company occupying eight floors of offices and enrolled in the Modlet pilot program saved about $23,000 in a year, according to ThinkEco.

The Modlet's control interfaces differ for consumers and commercial customers. Shibata said the Modlet's PC interface was designed for ease of use through visualization, automation and the quantifying of savings for the consumer.

The interface comes with preset scheduling for use out of the box but allows custom scheduling down to the minute. The software recognizes usage patterns over time and suggests fine-tunings to save more power.

The interface allows a user to opt in to share power usage and saving with the Modlet community of users, set up competitions, and share information and tips on specific model devices.

The Modlets will be available in the fourth quarter for the enterprise market and Q1 2011 in consumer channels. The target retail price to consumers will be $40.


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