Louisville, Ky., December 9, 2010 – A recent GE study on energy efficiency and wireless communication options for smart grid devices found that ZigBee is at least two times more cost-effective and efficient than Wi-Fi.
“To realize the benefits of the smart grid, it is critical that the underlying communications technology consume as little power as possible,” said David Najewicz, manager, external technology programs, GE Appliances, and one of the paper’s authors. “Because of the widespread use of these communication technologies at the residential level in home area networks and in smart devices, the choice of technologies is critical.”
GE found the two technologies that best meet the overall performance and cost requirements for home-area network communications are Wi-Fi (802.11/n) and ZigBee (802.15.4). These were evaluated under typical HAN, smart-device conditions and in a configuration representative of future mass-production implementation.
On average, the ZigBee system consumed 0.39 watts over a 24-hour period, while the Wi-Fi solution consumed more than twice (2.2 times) as much, a total of 0.87 watts over the same period.
GE anticipates there will be 750 million to 1 billion smart, connected devices in the U.S by 2017. By projecting this difference in device-level power consumption to the anticipated installed base, GE estimates aggregate power savings (370 MW) and yearly energy cost savings for consumers ($315 million) when choosing ZigBee over Wi-Fi.
This power savings is equivalent to about two-thirds the annual output of a large coal plant and would represent a carbon dioxide emissions reduction of 2.17 million tons per year – or the yearly emissions of 380,000 automobiles.
“Based on this experimental data, the ZigBee wireless communication technology results in the lowest energy consumption, while meeting the communication performance requirements for smart devices within a home area network,” said Jeff Drake, advanced systems engineer, GE Appliances, and co-author of the white paper. “Given that cost-effectiveness and efficiency are key smart grid deliverables, the choice of ZigBee over Wi-Fi should be clear.”
GE is a leader in energy-management solutions and smart grid-connected devices for the home. GE’s Brillion suite of home energy solutions is already being deployed in utility pilots. These solutions include Nucleus energy manager; a programmable thermostat; an energy display; a smart phone application currently under development; a web portal; and GE Profile smart appliances (ENERGY STAR-qualified refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers, and the new GeoSpring hybrid water heater, as well as ranges, microwaves and clothes dryers).