The High Performance Building is coming along quite well technologically.  New ideas and products show up like mushrooms after the rain.  One product area where we’ll definitively see improvements is the good old receptacle and its matching plug. 

In addition to already familiar functions like GFCIs for personal protection we’ve seen recently product proposals offering several additional benefits:

  1. Safety
    1. Thermal detection would turn off the current when the wire contact temperature gets too high.
    2. Arc fault detection would interrupt the power in case an arcing is detected
    3. Over and under voltage detection that could prevent load related malfunctions leading to accidents
  2. Energy savings
    1. Sub-metering at the receptacle level with communication capability to a central controller.  The controller could turn off the receptacle in case demand-response would dictate that and the customer gave previous permission
    2. Matching plug –receptacle (RFID technology) dictates the maximum load current load for a circuit.  If the load demands more current the receptacle shuts off since there’s a great chance a load malfunction occurred.

 With all these functions and others currently offered separately by a variety of vendors what should the poor consumer select?  It would be nice if the industry would come together, validate the new functionalities and create one smart plug category costumers could understand and start believing in.  We at NEMA are trying exactly that but the multitude of interests out there are making this progress slower than hoped.  But watch it: the smart receptacle is coming!

Andrei Moldoveanu


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