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Archive for August, 2007

Electric Utilities to use ZigBee for DSM Programs

The ZigBee Alliance has seen strong interest from electric utilities around the globe in using ZigBee to help their consumers be more energy efficient.

Several utilities are now in active development of customer programs which will make use of ZigBee enabled electric meters being installed at homes throughout the territory. Utilities leading this market development include utilities from California and Texas as well as Canada and Australia. Other utilities beginning to explore the use of ZigBee for their customers include utilities in California, Connecticut, Michigan, Missouri, Ohio and Virginia along with Scandinavia, France and Japan.

The key for utilities in developing robust customer programs for energy efficiency is using open standards like ZigBee, which enables utility owned devices, such as electric meters to communicate with consumer owned devices, such as thermostats, appliances, lighting system, etc. With a standards-based Home Area Network (HAN) able to communicate with the electric meter, home owners can receive information about real-time energy prices, up-to-date energy consumption and other information direct from devices in their home without waiting for the monthly bill to telling them what happened last month.

In May, Texas became the first state to require utilities to include HANs as part of their upgrade plans, if the utility wishes to seek cost recovery from the public. Currently, several other legislative bodies are considering similar approaches for utilities in their state or country.

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Microchip DSC Enables Smart Sensors

The dsPIC33FJ12 family of digital signal controllers is meant to enable a new class of “smart sensor” applications. Said to be the world’s smallest DSCs (18- and 28-pin packages as small as 6 x 6 mm), they can be moved closer to sensors, thus eliminating lead noise and off-loading work from the central processor. Microchip claims using libraries and filter design tools, the new DSCs can replace analog filters in noise reduction. The family’s on-chip analog-to-digital converters offer 1.1 Msps, it also features Peripheral Pin Select, a feature that allows designers to re-map digital I/O to optimize board layout.

More info and data sheets