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The Energy Information Standards (EIS) Alliance, a nonprofit corporation created to develop a common framework for customer equipment to use, generate and communicate energy data, says it has begun work on the problem of interoperability between different manufacturers' home energy management (HEM) products, as well as between those products and the smart grid.

To resolve these issues, the EIS Alliance says it is working with utilities, service providers, appliance and HVAC manufacturers, home entertainment and home automation companies, retailers and consumer groups on two parallel projects.

According to the EIS Alliance, manufacturers and groups have developed different ways of signaling equipment energy use, resources and availability. In addition, companies are often concerned about sharing detailed information about their products with devices from other manufacturers or with outside service providers. These different expressions of what are fundamentally common ideas, along with concerns about sharing details, limit the ability of these systems to work together, EIS Alliance adds.

The projects will focus on the development of a similar abstract expression between customer-owned systems and those of utilities and other service providers, often called an energy services interface. The EIS Alliance says this will allow different systems and architectures to operate inside and outside the home, but still allow for needed communication and coordination.

"Our intention with both these projects is to use published data models coming out of the North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB) and the American Society of Heating, Refrigeration and Air-conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) as a foundation for developing an abstraction that allows for needed communication, while protecting different manufacturers' design integrity," explains Chris Kotting, executive director of the EIS Alliance. "Of course, other contributions to the project are welcome."


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