By 2016, annual shipments are projected to be more than 30 million units, as the smart metering infrastructure develops, relevant legislation comes into force, a range of retail channels develop and managed services become more widely offered.
In the past three years, almost 60 million smart meters have been deployed – with almost 20 million including a ‘HAN gateway’ (home area network - typically ZigBee) to enable connectivity between the backhaul AMI (typically powerline or RF mesh) and in-home devices, such as in-home displays (IHDs).
Between 2012 and 2016, IMS Research forecasts that 300 million additional smart meters will be shipped, with a third of these including an integrated RF ‘HAN gateway’. Lisa Arrowsmith, principal analyst with IMS Research explains, “A key argument for the inclusion of a HAN gateway in smart meters – aside from enabling connection to an IHD – is to enable more sophisticated pricing tariffs, such as dynamic pricing, to smooth demand peaks and avoid firing up the most costly power plants. This offers the potential for ‘smart’ devices, such as thermostats, appliances, and electric vehicle chargers, which can be automated to run at times when electricity is cheapest.”
In some countries, legislation strongly supports the use of ‘smart’ devices, even going so far in some cases as to define the pairing process. In the UK and the State of Victoria in Australia, government entities are also supporting the deployment of IHDs. Unfortunately, many smart meters that have been installed to date do not feature a HAN gateway to enable connectivity to in-home devices. Even where this additional hardware is present, many utility companies have not enabled it. In many cases, even the inclusion of an activated HAN gateway can offer little value to consumers, aside from enabling connection to an in-home display. Currently, dynamic pricing tariffs or demand-response programs are few and far between; where they are in place, consumer experiences have varied. Yet utility