Wireless Applications

Arch Rock Delivers Comprehensive Energy Data

April 14, 2009

Real-time sub-metering, using the Energy Optimizer's IP-based wireless sensor networking, gives facility managers the detailed information required to cut power expenses, boost efficiency, and avoid penalties.

SAN FRANCISCO, CA -- Arch Rock Corp. has introduced a wireless energy monitoring system that gives facilities managers real-time visibility into electric power consumption, letting them pinpoint—down to individual rooms and circuits—where they can save money, boost efficiency, and gear usage patterns to accommodate utilities' demand-response and other incentive programs.

Arch Rock's Energy Optimizer addresses the key economic concerns associated with power usage in such facilities as data centers, office buildings, and industrial facilities, finding ways to cut energy costs and get accurate data on green and sustainability policies, measuring and verifying energy spending to avoid demand-ratchet rates and penalty-incurring peak-time usage, and demonstrating usage reduction to comply with regulatory mandates (e.g., EISA 2007and EPAct 2005) and building standards (e.g., EnergyStar, LEED).

Energy Optimizer combines Arch Rock's PhyNet IP-based enterprise-class wireless sensor network (WSN) technology, specialized circuit-mountable energy sensors, and a Web-based Energy Visibility Portal. Data gathered by the sensors appears on the portal in the form of actionable reports, revealing far more detail than a monthly utility bill. Users can see exactly when and where a building is consuming energy, identify energy gluttons, find usage spikes, and compare current usage against past baselines.

Because PhyNet is IP-based, like the Internet, data from the sensor nodes can be sent directly to other nodes or IP-based client devices (e.g., desktop, laptop, or handheld computers) over virtually any type of network (e.g., Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and IEEE 802.15.4 low-power radio).

Energy-Use Data By Physical/Functional Area
Roland Acra, Arch Rock CEO, said, "The high-level information available on monthly electric utility bills is of little help to facilities managers trying to figure out specific targets for cutting usage. There's no way to tell if the bulk of the power is being consumed by the computer lab, the HVAC system, or the lighting system. And while existing power-monitoring devices and sub-metering sensors have provided ways to log the needed information, there has been no practical way to get that information from the power source to the decision maker in time to take meaningful action.

"Energy Optimizer is the first solution to bring low-power wireless networking to the scene. Analyzed, correlated energy-usage data is available as soon as it's recorded. Facilities managers see detailed breakdowns of energy consumption from mains to branch circuits on a minute-by-minute basis. They can use the data to realize rapid payback by implementing energy-reduction plans or boosting internal efficiency through departmental charge-back reporting."

As an out-of-band usage monitoring system, Energy Optimizer has no impact on legacy devices or the software that controls them. It is based on the same Internet standards as the enterprise network, but requires no services from the corporate IT department. Deployment is simple; the user mounts the sensors on the circuits and watches usage information begin to appear on the Web-based portal.

Comprehensive Dashboard of Power Use Views
Energy Optimizer's Energy Visibility Portal is a dashboard-like, multi-window display of energy-use summaries and data breakdowns, detailed to the level of individual rooms, data center racks, lab or office spaces, large HVAC-related motor circuits (e.g., chillers, pumps, or boilers) or lighting segments. Specific windows show:

  • Monthly spending by user-designated physical area (e.g., data center or quality-assurance lab) or functional area (e.g., lighting or air conditioning system)

  • A monthly spending breakdown of those physical/functional areas into individual circuits, identifying the biggest power users in each area and thus indicating where to target money-saving efforts or how to pro-rate tenant or departmental charges

  • An electricity distribution breakdown by the three phases of utility-provided AC power; this takes utility rate structures into account, providing facilities managers with knowledge useful in reducing usage uniformly across all three phases to avoid peak-usage or overage penalties

  • Cumulative monthly spending, for comparison against a variety of baselines, such as organizational budget, historic spending (e.g., last month or same month last year), compliance goals, and usage at comparable facilities

  • Real-time demand, reported at user-defined intervals, ranging from minutes to weeks, plus year-to-date; information on usage peaks detected within those intervals can be used to avoid rate penalties

  • Site activity log: ongoing, automatically generated log of spending per kilowatts of power used on a given day, which can be user-annotated with actions taken (e.g., bulbs changed or thermostats adjusted).

Energy Optimizer's monitoring of electric power usage can be combined with sensing of other indoor and outdoor environmental conditions, such as temperature, light, humidity, and carbon dioxide levels, simply by using additional sensors within the PhyNet wireless sensor network architecture.

Components of Energy Optimizer include:

  • The Energy Visibility Portal, a Web-based application that displays detailed energy usage information in graphical and tabular formats. Customers can access the portal either as a hosted service or on a PhyNet Server appliance, which they can use to set up, manage, and troubleshoot their wireless sensor networks.

  • The PhyNet Router, an embedded networking device connecting the user's WSN(s) to the Energy Visibility Portal. The router connects to the portal over local- or wide-area network links (e.g., Wi-Fi, Ethernet, or cellular) and to the sensor nodes over IEEE 802.15.4 low-power radio links, using the IETF 6LoWPAN standard (IPv6 over low-power wireless personal area networks). Deployments can include one PhyNet Router per local site or multiple routers for high availability and load balancing.

  • Arch Rock IPpower Nodes, mains-powered and mounted in or near electrical circuit-breaker panels; each node measures AC power and voltage on up to three circuits.

Pricing and Availability
Arch Rock Energy Optimizer will be available May 1. The Energy Visibility Portal will initially be offered as a hosted service, and later as an on-site customer-premise appliance. An example configuration—including the Energy Visibility Portal (one-year subscription to hosted service), one PhyNet Router, and six IPpower Nodes—is priced at $9995 (U.S. list).

About Arch Rock
Arch Rock Corp. is a pioneer in open standards–based wireless sensor network technology. The company's products, which gather data from the physical world and integrate it into the enterprise IT infrastructure using IP networking and Web services, are used in energy and environmental monitoring, precision agriculture, industrial automation, and control. Arch Rock's founders, while at the University of California-Berkeley and Intel Research, did seminal research and development work on WSNs, creating three generations of wireless sensor nodes, mesh networking protocols, and the "leading operating system for sensor networks."

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