First smart grid ready appliances from Whirlpool due in 2012

Home appliance manufacturer Whirlpool is to introduce its first smart appliances in 2012, with others to follow before the end of 2015.

In an announcement from CES 2012, the company said that over the next 18 months, four “connected” appliances will be introduced, including a refrigerator, dishwasher, washer and dryer.

Our electric grid is more than 100 years old and not designed to handle all of the appliances in today’s home,” commented Warwick Stirling, global director of energy and sustainability for Whirlpool Corporation.

“Today appliances work independently from one another with little opportunity to optimize. And while manufacturers continue to explore innovations that improve the energy efficiency of individual products, the incremental gains are getting smaller and becoming more expensive to achieve.”

The concept of smart grid enabled appliances has evolved to a broader conversation around the connected home and overall home management. With these new smart appliances, consumers can easily shift their energy consumption to off-peak times. A home energy management device will read usages from appliances and signals from power companies to optimize energy use.

According to a recent survey conducted for Whirlpool, while consumers want to be green, they still want to retain control but will change their energy consumption choices if they are given real time information about how much energy is being used. Further, they want to control functions on their appliances and all home management functions including security systems and water and temperature management.

In the survey, 78 percent of respondents were interested in monitoring their household’s energy use, with most wanting to use their smartphone to make life easier. However, when asked about smart phones communicating with appliances, respondents were split on what would be most useful: alert when the washer is done; notify when items are ready (i.e. cooked/clean); preheat oven or turn it off; start appliances for self-clean; tell me what is needed to stock the fridge; start or refresh the laundry; start the dishwasher.

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