A read-through of the revisions proposed for ENERGY STAR refrigerators (expected to take effect in March 2014) indicate that "connectivity" capability is included in the guideline.
Presumably, this connectivity will make it possible for demand response programs to order refrigerators not to defrost (or otherwise reduce electric demand) during a power shortage period. Or maybe connectivity could allow utilities to identify refrigerators whose compressors go bad and start using too much energy. A great service. Customers would need to authorize all access of course.
Wow! Are we excited yet? Who has been using "connected" refrigerators?
Count me as a bit skeptical at this point. Will it be useful or just intrusive? For demand response I doubt that refrigerators are enough of a target to be worthwhile for most utilities. Perhaps if combined with AC or DHW there might be enough load shedding to be of use. But given that it will be many years before there are significant numbers in use I'm not excited.
There was the one at CES that kept track of when you need beer. THAT could be useful :-)
Personally, I wish my refrigerator had energy use information on the display. Seems like it would be a cheap and easy add for the manufacturer, and it could alert me if there's an issue and energy use goes up above normal. So many cars and other devices have this sort of on-board diagnostic.
Bill, this is the one you want: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36pr0t7hntI
Wow, I'd forgotten about that. Combine that with this: http://ces.cnet.com/1606-34441_1-50138471.html. and you have really improved my life! If automatic beer deliveries could be included we are approaching perfection.
Our utility is already doing this with Air Conditioners and the Smarthours VPP program. Connectivity could be useful with refrigerators, but they represent such a low part of the load during times of high demand. 4000 watt Water heaters, and 3000 watt Pool pumps are other high demand devices that are WAY more of a factor than a 200W refrigerator. Hit the low hanging fruit first...
Personally, I wish my refrigerator had energy use information on the display.
And calendar, and tasks, and grocery lists, I think connectivity will be really nice. Brave New World.
But at total energy cost of $40 a year, they'll have to shut defrost on a WHOLE LOT of 'em to help avoid brownouts!
I'm not real jazzed about my fridge talking to anyone. I don't need it to display anything other than fridge and freezer box temperatures.
That said, Ted and Bob may be oversimplifying - though a typical fridge compressor uses 100-200 Watts, defrost and ice harvester trigger resistance heating elements that use a good deal more, 400-600 Watts. Whether those loads are worth choking off during utility peaks is open to question.
Refrigerators were determined to contribute the most to the capacity for energy storage, among residential "thermostatically controlled loads" -- such as AC, electric water heaters, and refrigerators. In CA, the capacity for energy storage from all these residential electric loads was estimated at 8-11 GWh.
This is discussed in the paper entitled "Using Residential Electric Loads for Fast Demand Response: The Potential Resources and Revenues, the Costs, and Policy Recommendations" by Johanna L. Mathieu, Mark Dyson, and Duncan S. Callaway of UC Berkeley, here: