A read-through of the revisions proposed for ENERGY STAR refrigerators (expected to take effect in March 2014) indicate that "connectivity" capability is included in the guideline. 


Presumably, this connectivity will make it possible for demand response programs to order refrigerators not to defrost (or otherwise reduce electric demand) during a power shortage period.  Or maybe connectivity could allow utilities to identify refrigerators whose compressors go bad and start using too much energy. A great service.  Customers would need to authorize all access of course.


Wow!  Are we excited yet?  Who has been using "connected" refrigerators?

Tags: ENERGY, STAR, appliances, demand, refrigerators, response

Views: 1005

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LOL.  Darn, you beat me to it.  

Refrigerators today are so frighteningly efficient leaving a CFL running all year will use more energy.  

Curt, this isn't about saving REAL energy, it's about saving mythical energy and selling products!  Nest thermostats, networked refrigerators, Caps claiming "I'm green", it's about selling products that make people "feel" like they are "contributing" and "doing their part".  And to some extent they are, they are being good little sheep, consuming the products they are told to consume, and NOT saving much energy, because energy companies certainly don't want to have demand drop precipitously.  

NEVER is it about MEASURING!  Heaven forbid!!  Bad Curt, Baaad Curt, Baaaaaa...


Hence "may" save a quarter per day. Looks like I was being overly generous on the amount of potential savings.. Peak rate in our area is anywhere from .09 to .44 per KWH. Peak is 5hrs long (2-7pm). On a 44cent day not running the 100W compressor would save 1/2 a KWH .5KWH x 44 cents = 22 cents. If the compressor would have only ran 1/2 of the time instead of being shut off you're looking at about a dime. Yeah, smart fridge is so not worth it...

Except that the compressor does not (should not...) be running continuously under normal circumstances, typical duty cycle is more like 50%. In addition, any rise in case temperature occasioned by reduced duty cycle during peak would have to be made up post peak - cheaper, but not free.

Basing a savings calculation on avoiding 5 continuous compressor hours would be illusory.

The one thing possibly worth doing during a peak event would be to stave off defrost cycles. Those operate a 300-500 Watt resistance heater for 5-10 minutes to melt the ice followed by a good deal of continuous compressor operation to remove the defrost heat and humidity from the cabinet.

Of course, a fridge could be time / date aware enough to avoid defrost cycling during normal utility peaks without it having a daily cyber-conversation with the local utility.

I remain unexcited...yawn.

Bob,  Last June (2013) at the annual ASHRAE conference there was a talk on smart grid ready refrigerators.  They actually tried them and (utility was involved) they sent signals to trigger demand reduction.  The results presented was that it didn't work as advertised.  Part of the problem is that it is still early enough that the refrigerator manufacturers are interpreting the standards differently.  The spec was developed with the  help of ACEEE -- normally good - but... the spec doesn't align with what the utilities need -- to make it worth their cost to adopt.   Then in some cases the reduction triggered by the DR event was only equivalent to that of a night light.  Not much -- especially when you consider in the next couple of years far better "cooling engines" for the refrigerators will be available.   If the smart grid ready feature was FREE it would be great - but if it is marketed as an premium feature - adoption will be SLOW.

Abstract of the paper is:


Testing the Demand Response Capabilities of Residential Refrigerators (DE-13-C010)
Scott A. Mitchell, P.E., Member, Southern California Edison, Irwindale, CA
Achieving the goals of the Smart Grid will require deployment of a wide array of communicating devices, enabling utilities to better manage energy use across the electric grid. In the residential sector, Smart Appliances are the key to realizing the full potential benefits of the Smart Grid. These appliances not only achieve the highest levels of energy efficiency during normal operation, but also are capable of responding to Demand Response (DR) events – where utilities need to drop electric load quickly during peak usage days to avoid widespread power outages. Appliance manufacturers have embraced this functionality and are just beginning to release their first DR-capable products. This paper shares the results from an on-going laboratory evaluation of the DR potential of residential refrigerators from at least one manufacturer. Testing captures each device’s reaction to DR events initiated during the various stages of its operation. Standardized test methods for quantifying the benefits of Smart Appliances are currently being developed by the industry and other interested stakeholders. A discussion of the creation of test methods used in this investigation and their applicability to the industry at large are included. Additionally, an in-depth look at the communication capabilities of these appliances will be presented."

Paper was given Sunday,  reprints should be available from ASHRAE.  

If I've just put a bunch of warm,soup, sauce, meat, beer or chowder in my fridge, the last thing I need to have happen is for the utility to diddle around with my fridge settings.

If this becomes widespread, "Demand Response Disconnect Hacks" will become similarly widespread, with my blessing.

I have not read the documents from ENERGY STAR yet, but would assume the "connectivity" of refrigerators could provide a significant peak load relief, and energy savings as well.  The reason is that there are so many refrigerators out there, and they run all day and night. It is smart not to discount the potential for savings in the aggregate.  With light bulbs, many people overlooked the potential for a long time.  The sheer ubiquity of the light bulb meant that even if some changeouts were marginal (because they were little-used bulbs), a drive for wholesale replacement of light bulbs made sense because you end up getting a lot of negawatts by harvesting these small point sources.  Same idea with refrigerators.


According to the EPA cover memo:

'ENERGY STAR refrigerators and freezers with connected functionality will offer consumers new convenience and energy-saving features, while facilitating broader electric power system efficiency. These features include energy-related messages, such as an alert that the door has been left open or real-time insight into the product’s energy consumption. Consumers will also have the ability to manage settings from afar, such as using a computer or smart phone to remotely put the refrigerator into an energy-saving vacation mode.

ENERGY STAR refrigerators and freezers with connected functionality will be "smart grid" ready, meaning they will give consumers the option to connect their refrigerator/freezer with their local utility to save more on their energy bills, where those services are offered. Once connected, a product will be able to intelligently adjust its consumption to reduce demand on the grid or use energy at times when it is better for the environment -- all the while ensuring the refrigerator continues to meet consumer expectations for keeping food fresh. Importantly, connected products will also ensure consumers remain in control at all times by having the option to override utility commands when needed. ENERGY STAR refrigerators and freezers with connected functionality will use open standards, helping to assure these products are compatible with both the smart grid and with different energy management systems and apps.'

More documents about the development of the new ENERGY STAR guideline for refrigerators here:



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