Are utilities falling for the smart appliance hype? Beware!


By: SGN Staff


By Jesse Berst


I fear that utilities could get sucked into the smart appliances trap just as several of them fell for the in-home display idea. It doesn't make sense for utilities to subsidize products that consumers don't want. And consumers don't want smart appliances (with one exception I explain below). So please proceed with caution.


Two interesting articles in the mainstream press about smart appliances give us a good excuse to review the topic as it applies to electric power utilities. Smart appliances typically have a bit of intelligence, a small screen and the ability to communicate. Many of them also advertise their ability to program when they go on and off. In theory, that makes them capable of participating in utility demand response programs. And might make them candidates for utility subsidies under the argument that the utility benefits from the peak time savings.


Writing for Digital Trends, John Sciacca gives a comprehensive overview of the different kinds of smart appliances. You can sense that the author is friendly toward the concept. Yet as he marches through all the different kinds of smart appliances - refrigerators, ovens, dishwashers, washers, dryers, etc. - he struggles to find ways that the additional features bring any real benefits. Do you really need the ability to remotely turn on your oven to preheat it? And would you really pay a bunch more money just to have that feature?