U-SNAP Alliance releases first specification for home to grid product developers


Barry Haaser,
U-SNAP Alliance
Morgan Hill, CA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — July 22, 2009 – The U-SNAP Alliance, formed by a group of utility industry leaders to create a low cost connector standard to enable consumer products to communicate with any vendor’s smart meter, has released its first specification for product developers.

The Utility Smart Access Port (U-SNAP) Bus Specification provides manufacturers with guidelines on how to create U-SNAP compliant interfaces to accommodate radios for several popular wireless standards including ZigBee, Z-Wave, Wi-FI, FM, and FlexNet.
The U-SNAP Serial Interface is designed to facilitate communication between smart grid devices and U-SNAP communication modules. A smart grid service is a functional element that provides control, monitoring and/or informational services within a home area network, while the communication module provides a communication interface between an electric utility meter and its customer’s smart grid device, such as a thermostat, in-home display or electric appliance. The specification is protocol independent giving manufacturers the ability to build a single product capable of supporting any utility automatic metering infrastructure (AMI) program or home automation solution.

“The first products based on the U-SNAP specification will consist of a family of communicating thermostats that are expected be on retail shelves later this year,” said Barry Haaser of the U-SNAP Alliance. “Consumers purchasing U-SNAP compliant thermostats will be able to access them locally or remotely over the internet. Consumers participating in utility sponsored smart meter programs may be able to use U-SNAP compliant thermostats to show how much they are paying for electricity and how much they are consuming.”

Work is underway to finalize Version 2 of the specification supporting higher powered radios and demand response requirements from utilities for communicating with smart appliances. The updated specification will be backward compatible with the first specification, while satisfying utility requirements for demand response programs.