This Startup Will Pay You to Remote Control Your Fridge

It could be the future of the smart grid

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Photo illustration. Photo source: Westend61/Maskot/Peter Dazeley/Getty Images

Getting thousands of people to modify their behavior all at once is devilishly hard.

OhmConnect is a smart-grid startup that takes a different, tech-driven approach to balance power supply and demand. The service works like this. Utilities like California’s PGE pay OhmConnect to reduce power consumption during specific times, which are identified in advance using predictive analytics. The company then mobilizes a legion of users (150,000 as of Summer 2019), who give it access to the web-connected smart electrical meters than many utilities have already installed in their homes.

The model is both extremely compelling and a little troubling.

In May 2020, the company launched its OhmSmart service. For a monthly subscription fee, users receive two or more TP-Link Smart Plugs, Wi-Fi-connected plugs that allow appliances to be controlled via the internet. Users connect these to major appliances in their homes, like a refrigerator or window air conditioner. Users can connect their existing smart home devices, like a Nest Thermostat or the charger for their electric vehicle, too. They then give OhmConnect permission to remotely shut off those appliances during OhmHours. In exchange, they get the benefits of OhmHour savings, as well as bonuses for shorter, dynamic periods of reduced consumption called AutoOhms.

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Co-Founder & CEO of Gado Images. I write, speak and consult about tech, privacy, AI and photography. My tips for Medium success: ThriveOnMedium.com

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