There’s an interesting Kickstarter campaign right now for an innovation called SmartThings. SmartThings is a Minnesota-based company and an open platform to connect everyday things to the internet to monitor, control, and automate. The company wants to add “intelligence to everyday things in your world, so that your life can be more awesome.” It consists of a hub, “things,” maker tools, a cloud platform, and mobile app.
Recall for a second a project called Rubble Floor by Dave Hakkens. Hakkens recently published another project called “Wind-Oil” to show how to use industrial processes at home to create good food. He made an oil pressing machine that’s powered by a small-wind turbine. The machine has a worm drive that presses nuts and seeds — walnuts, peanuts, sesame seeds, linseeds, hazelnuts, etc — and spits out oil in one bottle and a food pulp in another.
I’ve been watching plug-and-play solar systems like the one offered by SpinRay Energy to see how viable and affordable these can get. It turns out GoGreenSolar.com just unveiled a similar system called the SunPlug Plug n’ Play Solar Kit. The kit includes one 235-watt polycrystalline panel, a 120 VAC/60 Hz grid-tie inverter, racking mount, WiFi module for monitoring, and a connector to plug directly into an AC outlet.
Accessory dwelling units (ADUs), urban micro homes, and tiny houses typically have space limitations and may even have energy and water constraints. So it’s critical to find appliances that are both energy-efficient and the right size — like this Ariston’s Elegance line of combination washer/dryer units. Available in white or silver, the Ariston washer/dryer is 33.5″H x 23.4″w x 22.8″D and has Energy Star certification.
I mentioned Wattvision previously, and the company is now running a Kickstarter campaign to deploy its complete the next generation of hardware, cover more types of power meters, and deploy the new hardware by about January 2013. Wattvision 2 includes a sensor that attaches to your home electricity meter and a gateway that connects up with your internet network. With these in place, a user can check electricity use online or from a smart phone.
I really like the dark-blue/black look of solar PV, but I suppose there may be someone that needs a different color, whether for aesthetics, compliance, or branding, etc. Colored Solar is trying to grab a toehold in this market with red, emerald green, forest green, and polished marble panels. In terms of panel efficiency, NREL found there is little performance compromised for a 16%+ efficiency colored 225W panel, according to Colored Solar.