A smart grid sensor is a small, lightweight node that serves as a detection station in a sensor network. Smart grid sensors enable the remote monitoring of equipment such as transformers and power lines and the demand-side management of resources on an energy smart grid.
Smart grid sensors can be used to monitor weather conditions and power line temperature, which can then be used to calculate the line’s carrying capacity. This process is called dynamic line rating and it enables power companies to increase the power flow of existing transmission lines. Smart grid sensors can also be used within homes and businesses to increase energy efficiency.
A smart grid sensor has four parts: a transducer, a microcomputer, a transceiver and a power source. The transducer generates electrical signals based on phenomena such as power-line voltage. The microcomputer processes and stores the sensor output. The transceiver, which can be hard-wired or wireless, receives commands from a central computer and transmits data to that computer. The power for each sensor is derived from the electric utility or from a battery.
According to NanoMarkets, companies like GE, LG and Whirlpool have already announced their commitment to building home appliances that are smart-enabled. Smart grid sensors will link these appliances with smart meters, providing visibility into real-time power consumption. Power companies can use this information to develop real-time pricing and consumers can use the information to lower their power consumption at peak times.