Building smart homes that are networked to run as efficiently as possible is supposed to be one of the technological fixes to our current energy consumption problem. But what’s often lost in all the heady talk about innovating our way to a greener future is the fact that those wireless networking technologies also consume power, reducing the net benefit. So a team of researchers came up with a novel fix: eliminate the power burn required by wireless technologies by using a home’s copper wiring as a huge, building-wide antenna.
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Sensor Nodes Utilizing Powerline Infrastructure, or SNUPI, is a system of tiny, low-power sensors that monitor a home for a variety of energy-sucking problems – moisture in the crawl space, heat escaping through a poorly insulated window, lights left on in an upstairs bedroom – and beams a signal back to a central hub via the copper wiring already installed in the home. Since the sensors don’t have to communicate wirelessly with the base station – the copper does them the favor of ferrying the 27-megahertz signal – they don’t need a large power source. In fact, a single watch battery can run each sensor for a decade or longer.
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