Shipping in early March 2013 is the MeterPlug, a device developed by StickNFind Technologies that tells your smart phone or tablet how much an appliance is costing you in electric bills and the history over periods of time. It can be programmed to power off the appliance if it is on standby and using vampire power, or turn appliances on and off as you walk by.
Typical appliances that use vampire power, or keep consuming power while in standby mode and appear to be turned off, are televisions, game consoles, microwaves, printers, routers, HiFi receivers, chargers, DVD players and cable boxes. A test with MeterPlug showed that the electricity used by a 50″ Sony LED TV on standby costs $18.25 annually. An Xbox 360 or Playstation 3 left on consumes about 170 watts every 24 hour day, costing around $220 a year. The savings in electricity could pay for the MeterPlug devices in no time.
The plug currently comes in versions to work in the United States, Europe, and the British version for the United Kingdom and Hong Kong. It can measure heavy duty appliances like washing machines, heaters, air conditioners, Christmas lights, plasma televisions; medium appliances like laptops, Xboxes, microwave ovens, coffee machines, cable boxes; and small electric users like iPhone chargers. It works with all devices on a powerstrip too. It can handle up to 16A, from 100V to 240V AC, but does not have surge protection.
The MeterPlug has memory inside to record consumption stats which, using Bluetooth Low Energy 4.0, you can download to your Smartphone or tablet app when you are within 100 feet of the MeterPlug. There is an override button on the MeterPlug that you can manually press to turn an appliance back on. You can set a limit on how much electric cost you want for an appliance, your phone will alert you when that amount has been reached, and the MeterPlug will turn off the appliance. The electric cost is based on a database that updates a state’s or country’s average cost regularly. Or you can manually enter your local electric KW/h rate in the settings menu. See the website for the phones that work with the device. The API will be available for iOS, Android, MAC OSX, and Windows 8.
The device on Indiegogo raised $127,900 and closed on January 29, 2013. There is still an early bird discount where, until they are all claimed, you can pre-order one for $45, two for $85, four for $165, eight for $320, 12 for $460, or 20 for $700, or 100 for $3,000 for a company. This
includes shipping within the US with an estimated delivery of April 2013. The retail price of the device will be $59.95 in stores. Watch the attached video for an explanation of the MeterPlug, keeping in mind that it is geared toward the Indiegogo raising of funds to develop it. StickNfind is a subsidiary of SSI America, with the R & D office located in Davie, Florida.
Some will think that the energy used in manufacturing this device and transporting it to consumers may have a worse environmental impact than the wasted appliance electricity. It seems a logical step would be to incorporate the MeterPlug into appliance plugs to make all appliances smart. They could automatically stop vampire power use after a set time period, display power usage on the appliance itself, and turn it off and on as you walk by, if you set it to do that.
Making consumers aware of the energy they are wasting is the point. Whether they care enough to change habits after receiving the information is what will determine whether devices like the
MeterPlug are worth the energy. Savings could be especially large in corporate settings.