CHOICE membership

What do you want to know about your connected home?

Continuing the discussion from Please help CHOICE understand your connected home:

Last week, we asked the community what electrical products they’re using. People told us about their computers, phones and TV boxes. Other people told us about hair dryers, boilers and fridges. These things are increasingly being connected to the Internet. The products we buy are getting more complicated.

Unless you’re an expert, it’s hard to understand how and why your connected devices are behaving in a certain way. We’re working with CHOICE to figure out the things people want to know about their products.

Security problems, terms and conditions changes and product recalls happen all the time, but it’s hard to keep track of all of this. In our last thread, people spoke about problems with remote control compatibility, problems getting or staying connected to the Internet and software not working.

Let’s get a conversation started. What do you want to know about the things in your connected home?

This is the first step towards making the things we buy easier to understand. We’re excited to know what people are thinking. Thanks!

Ian

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I have to ask this because I think that this could have some quite funny consequences??? Can the new ‘smart fridges’ be hacked ???

It’s entirely possible that they can! Even just the other week, large parts of the Internet were made inaccessible because of an attack launched from security cameras and personal video recordeers.

1 Security

That’s the number one thing. The device must not be able to be suborned by a malicious external party.

When the humble light globe leaves your wireless network wide open, you know that something is wrong (and most of these devices will be connected wirelessly).

2 Control and ownership

A growing problem with connected devices that contain software is that you never truly either control or own the product. It may have certain functionality when you buy it but a few years later some functionality may cease working and in any case at any time the functionality may change.

Example: Sony TVs.

3 Privacy

Any connected product gives rise to privacy concerns. What information is it collecting in your home and where is it sending it and who does or might have access to it?

When Big Brother really is watching you through your TV, you know that something is wrong.

Would I buy any of this kind of product? Not a chance …

I would like to read a sound, researched piece on how I can make my house solar independent of the gouging electricity companies. It may cost a serious dollar amount but this would be set of by the increased worth of the house and the warm fussy feeling you get when you have beaten someone at their own game.
Bill W

I’d like to know how much energy these connected devices are consuming when they’re in standby mode. I suspect not very much for each individual product (although some unregulated products such as wireless speakers are surprisingly wasteful), but possibly quite a bit if you have dozens of them.

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Batteries are the most expensive part of being off-grid. I’ve built my system up over many years, off-grid since 1991, but a general idea of the cost right now is:
18kW (usable) LiFePO4 battery $15000 (DIY system with 16 cells, not a Tesla, LG, Sonnen, Fronius etc, which cost a lot more, but new Tesla Powerwall2 next year will be much less cost/kWh than current version)
7kW inverter $6000
Charge controllers, cabling, sundry bits and pieces $4000
7kW of PV and mounting $10000

  • installation if paying someone to do it $?
    Total $35000 +installation, but you can do off-grid work yourself so long as you comply with regulations, and stay below 120VDC and 50VAC with the equipment you are connecting. The 230V side of things must be done by a licensed electrician.

Depending on where you are located and your energy usage, the above system can operate with no generator use if you can restrict your usage sufficiently in extended cloudy periods of weather. I ran 2 years with no generator use, and only 4kW of PV, and using an average of 12kWh over winter, and more in summer. Now with more PV I use about 23kWh/day on average due to running a couple of large aquaponics systems, and require occasional use of a generator in cloudy periods.

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Thank you Gordon, a great start. The Tesla Powerwall 2 seems a good way for the future. I note they are still able to use off peak power from the grid. Something I do not want as this would presumably incur a line use cost. I would be looking for a suitable generator setup for the times when the sun did not do the job. Any more input from out there would be appreciated.

hunter39

Not a lot of detail is available yet for the Powerwall2, but AFAIK few, if any, of the new generation of packaged Lithium batteries are really designed for off-grid duty, and I think Tesla have specifically said the Powerwall is not designed for such use. They are designed for load shifting, and some can do UPS duty if connected to an appropriate inverter- but not many systems can do that yet. If you are connected to the grid you are up for the daily connection charge, which around here is apparently over $1.50/day, so by eliminating that and going off-grid, the savings should easily cover occasional generator use costs.
Another looming cost for being connected to the grid is demand charges, something businesses currently pay. This is a daily charge based on your peak demand over a 30 minute period, that gets paid daily, even if you don’t generally use anywhere near that peak rate of power. Using batteries to reduce the peaks can make for huge annual savings.