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Research Highlights

Wireless Metering Challenge

Commercial buildings benefit from DOE challenge for market solution to reduce energy use, improve operations

June 2017
Meazon's wireless metering system

Meazon's wireless metering system during installation at the General Services Administration’s Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Commercial building owners spend more than $120 billion dollars on electricity each year. The average cost per building hovers around $21,500/year—that’s a lot!

Building owners can reduce their energy costs by better understanding energy-use profiles via metering system data. Consumption data can be used to identify energy reduction opportunities, improve operations, verify improvements, and assess system performance. However, installing a metering system in an existing building requires expensive hardwiring of communication links, retrofitting, and new software. Such investments can be too significant to be considered cost effective, thus leaving energy optimization and efficiency opportunities unaddressed.

To overcome this cost barrier, the DOE's Buildings Technology Office tasked researchers at PNNL with developing and leading the DOE Low-Cost Wireless Metering Challenge. The Challenge set requirements for a low-cost, wireless system that measures electricity use at various locations in a building and communicates data wirelessly to a local collection point. The Challenge winner is a system developed by Meazon.

Challenge Issued

Specifications and attributes of the desired wireless metering system included:

  • Low cost meter with a target purchase price less than $100
  • Electrical energy measurement units that are easy to use and quick to install
  • Full compliance with NFPA 70 and UL 61010
  • Wireless data communication success rate greater than or equal to 95 percent
  • Operation independent from existing building internet and intranet networks
  • All data encrypted using 128-bit or greater Advanced Encryption Standard.

Initially, 30 companies indicated interest in the Wireless Metering Challenge. Several firms met basic criteria and approached the cost target. From those, one system—developed by Meazon—met all of the prerequisites. This system was then installed and tested at the General Services Administration’s Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Results

The Meazon system exceeded the required communication success rate of 95%, included a meter cost less than $100, and provided data in an easy to use CSV format successfully meeting the Challenge specification.

The Wireless Metering Challenge effectively stimulated the market to meet an unmet need for a low-cost system that measures whole building and/or internal loads, eliminates the need for hardwiring in an existing building, and provides communications independently from a building's other networks.

This effort builds on years of experience in technology research at PNNL.

PNNL Research Team: Anne Wagner, Linda Sandahl, Mike Hoffman, Dave Hunt, Jian Zhang, and Michael Richart


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