In a survey of high-end entertainment households, when asked about the usefulness and interest of PC-based control services, respondents ranked energy management as the most attractive service option with 54% indicating that they had a strong interest in such a service. Utilities are aware and energized by this new demand, and as telemetry services become more widely available, Parks Associates believes consumers will be receptive to such services.

The Residential Gateway As Energy Manager

Michael Greeson | Parks Associates

Home Toys Article


Michael Greeson, Parks Associates

In a survey of high-end entertainment households, when asked about the usefulness and interest of PC-based control services, respondents ranked energy management as the most attractive service option with 54% indicating that they had a strong interest in such a service.  Utilities are aware and energized by this new demand, and as telemetry services become more widely available, Parks Associates believes consumers will be receptive to such services.

Michael Greeson, a consulting analyst specializing in broadband Internet services and residential gateways, recently joined Parks Associates after graduating from the University of Chicago with an MA in Interdisciplinary Social Science. He is in the process of completing a year-end 2000 report on the residential gateway marketplace ... available in January 2001.


When discussions regarding a residential gateway (RG) originated in the mid-1980s, it was the intentions of GTE and BellSouth to create a device that enabled and supported home control and energy management services.  It was widely believed at that time that energy management would be an intense driver for both consumers and utilities to deploy a residential gateway.  But energy management services failed to gain as strong a foothold in American markets as originally anticipated, and now lag significantly behind most European and Asian markets. 

However, Parks Associates believes that given the projected growth in the intelligent heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (IHVAC) market, the demand for a device that enables remote energy management on the part of both utilities and residential consumers will likely grow.  IHVAC control enables users to monitor and manage the temperature and air quality in their homes easily and efficiently, and facilitates room-by-room comfort control, incorporates easily programmable thermostats, provides energy management to control peak and overall usage, and allows for usage monitoring on a room-by-room basis.  Such sophisticated home control systems require a device capable of seamlessly interfacing with both internal and external networks, and which can intelligently distribute information throughout a home network.  The residential gateway is such a device.

Parks Associates believes that the revenue potential of the IHVAC control market will continue to expand (Figure 1). 


Figure 1

And as the demand for energy control increases and the prices for IHVAC equipment continue to decline (Figure 2), the market should grow incrementally through the first decade of 2000 (Figure 3).


Figure 2


Figure 3

Moreover, Parks Associates' research indicates that there does in fact exist strong consumer interest in these kinds of services.  In a survey of high-end entertainment households, when asked about the usefulness and interest of PC-based control services, respondents ranked energy management as the most attractive service option with 54% indicating that they had a strong interest in such a service.  Utilities are aware and energized by this new demand, and as telemetry services become more widely available, Parks Associates believes consumers will be receptive to such services.  In turn, the market for devices which enable and support telemetry services (such as the residential gateway) will expand.  And there are a number of companies poised to take advantage of this new opportunity.

Players in the Telemetry Gateway Market

Coactive Networks

Founded in 1992 as a custom engineering firm specializing in advanced control networking solutions, Coactive has evolved into a product-based company, providing embedded connectivity solutions for homes and businesses.  Their Coactive Connector Series is a line of full-service residential gateways, and includes the Connector 1000, 2000, and soon-to-be-released 3000.

Positioned for the MDU and commercial markets, the Connector 1000 provides universal access to control systems from practically any application, from Web browsers to databases to popular HMI programs. Using Ethernet LANs, dial-up PPP, and the Internet, the Coactive Connector 1000 provides data logging, alarming, and real-time remote monitoring and control to Internet-enable systems such as security, energy management, and equipment monitoring. Its built-in Web server, along with the wide range of Connector Access Software modules available, means data from these systems can be accessed from anywhere on the network.  The Connector 1000 is priced around $300.

The Connector 2000 is a telemetry gateway designed for single family homes that links home devices and appliances to the Internet via shared phone line or a broadband connection such as DSL or cable modem. With support for both powerline and twisted pair communications in the home, the Connector 2000 enables multiple services such as AMR, home security, energy management, and home automation. The Connector 2000 offers features which support telemetry e-services including data logging, local service programs, and real-time remote monitoring and control.  IP interfaces include 10Base-T Ethernet and an integrated 28.8 Kbps modem.  Home network interfaces include EIA-709 (LonWorks), a PL-21 transceiver, and an X10 transceiver.  The Connector 2000 is priced around $200.

For more information, visit the Coactive Networks website: www.coactive.com.

Comverge Technologies

Comverge Technologies was formed in 1998 by Data Systems and Software, Inc., as a merger between the existing operations of Powercom Control Systems, Ltd., the Electric Power Supply Management Division of DSSI's Israeli subsidiary.  Comverge's mission is help service providers take advantage of the rapidly deregulating global utility market by providing solutions which enable the provision of value-added services.

Comverge's MainGate telemetry gateway allows utilities to connect and communicate with their customers by interfacing using virtually any two-way network - radio frequency, hybrid fiber/coax, or VHF/telephony.  On the customer side, devices can be controlled directly or by using power line carrier communication. Services enabled by the MainGate include automatic meter reading, load profiling, customer-controlled load management and market-based pricing, outage detection, tamper detection, messaging, and surge suppression and monitoring.  The MainGate can enable communications with a number of applications, including programmable thermostats, security and monitoring services, and advanced home automation systems.  The MainGate gateway is priced at around $350.

For more information, visit Comverge's website: www.comverge-tech.com .

Sage Systems

Sage Systems was founded in 1996, and positions itself as a developer of hardware and software that allows people to monitor, via the Internet, electrical appliances and energy consumption. Sage's first product line is Aladn™ (i.e., Autonomous Local Area Distributed Network).

The Aladn system incorporates a  proprietary data networking technology that uses existing electric wiring to connect certain devices (such as electric meters, thermostats, light switches and electrical outlets) and appliances (security systems, televisions, audio components, computers, white goods) to each other and the Internet.  The Aladn Energy Management Suite is comprised of an automated electric meter, a smart thermostat, smart light switches, smart electrical outlets, a PC interface, an Internet gateway, and comes with web interface software.  The Aladn Internet Gateway is simply a modem with the Aladn-networking technology built in, and can interface to whichever medium is the most convenient for the residential consumer. 

Using a standard web browser, users can graphically view the status of their Aladn networks, remote control and program Aladn devices, and gather data on the usage of those devices.  And perhaps of greatest interest to the energy-conscious consumer, by using Aladn-enabled meters, thermostats, light switches, and electrical outlets, the consumer can monitor energy consumption and usage patterns to maximize energy savings.  The price for the Aladn gateway is around $100.

For more information, visit Sage's website at www.sagesys.com


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