We’ve always been fans of AlertMe, the UK company has brought innovative products to the market over the last few years . However a couple of things have always spoiled the party a little, the closed nature of the systems and the on-going subscription costs. However, after a sit down chat with the AlertMe boys and girls last week it’s clear the company is ready to embark on a new chapter.
Energy Monitoring – The new SmartEnergy Kit is available from today and has been upgraded to a sleek new black finish. The price stays at £49.99 but now includes a free in-home colour LCD display (which was a £29.99 optional extra before) and the £1.99 monthly subscription has been dropped (subs stay for the security product). In addition a free iPhone / iOS app is available to help monitor your energy usage from wherever you are with an Android version coming soon.
The web interface used to the SmartEnergy system has been completely overhauled and is now a ‘best in class’ experience. You can manage, monitor, graph and control aspects of your home system and setup the hub to email and send text messages on events like energy usage going above a certain threshold. Check out all our screenshots below to get an idea of how comprehensive the web interface has now become.
AlertMe claim their customers have shown SmartEnergy can reduce their electricity use in the region of 15-20% on average. With Energy prices set to rise almost 20% this autumn that’s news that will certainly make potential buyers prick up their ears.
As before the system uses a clamp sensor to estimate energy use (how long until utilities give us a proper way to tap in and read actual data from our meters?). If you want more accurate figures for a particular appliance you can use one of the AM SmartPlugs. As well as monitoring energy usage this also allows you to control the device too.
Heating Control – Trials of the AM Heating controller are completed but for now AlertMe say there are no immediate plans to offer it for sale to the public as they don’t deem it to be a ‘self-install product’. The unit could have a retail price of around £100 but it may be sold as part of an service agreement with your boiler instead and so could be ‘free’ within some maintenance agreement. For now the heating controller is a single zone unit but this could be developed into a more complex unit in the future as well as adding support for a hot water channel.
Future Developments – AlertMe has carried out other trials too, including one with Solar PV systems. They are staking their continued success in volume rather than being a niche product. The team have rolled out partnerships with British Gas and other large utilities making them a growing force in a the energy management market, one that Analysts OnWorld predict will see 50 million devices in the home globally by 2014.
AlerMe say this is the first step to making the ‘Smart Home’ a reality. Allowing customers to manage not only electricity usage, but also add a range of connected devices such as SmartSensors, SmartButtons and SmartPlugs is the future. But in our interview it was their vision that they are heading towards becoming an ‘Open standards based hub” that most interested us. AM have always had API’s but now the plan is to open up access to anyone and also to provide gateways to other protocols like Wi-Fi and Z-Wave for example.
We certainly need someone to bring an Apple-like experience to the connected home. A smart home ‘appliance’ that is easily installed and managed and provides a gateway to add many subsystems to a single control and management interface. Could the new AlertMe hub be the beginning of “X” becoming a reality?