Green

Control4 plugs into the smart grid with new $17.3M

control4Control4, maker of a universal remote control capable of adjusting any home appliances or electronics — from the television to the thermostat — has brought in $17.3 million to get the ball rolling on several smart grid initiatives.

These initiatives are far-flung, encompassing advanced metering, energy management displays showing consumers how much power they are using and how much it is costing, and a program aimed at teaching these consumers how to alter their behaviors and ultimately conserve more energy.

Specifically, the new money will be used to expand the number of devices and appliances that can be integrated into Control4’s so-called “Home Area Network.” By offering in-home displays, the company will come in direct competition with the likes of Google PowerMeter, Microsoft Hohm and smaller players like EnergyHub and Onzo. There are a lot of companies working on similar projects, but not so many that the space is saturated.

Just like its competitors — which also include Trilliant, SmartSynch and Ambient when it comes to smart metering — Control4 says that it will capitalize on the two-way communication between consumers and utilities enabled by smart meters to encourage the public, whether they be homeowners or business owners, to cut down on their energy consumption during peak periods.

Once consumers have more information about their power use, transmitted via ZigBee metering technology and broadband, they can then use Control4’s core technology to turn off any number of appliances and see how each decision impacts their energy use in real time.

For a while now, Control4 has had the technology to receive signals from utilities regarding peak times and grid disturbances, automatically turning down the air conditioner, switching off the dryer and adjusting the many other energy-hog appliances most people own. It is simply becoming more central to the company’s mission as cleantech, and especially smart grid innovation, holds the spotlight.

The recent round of funding came from Best Buy Capital, Mercato Partners, Foundation Capital, Frazier Technology Ventures, Thomas Weisel Venture Partners, vSpring Capital and University Venture Fund. It last raised capital in June 2008, bringing in $20 million to continue development of its remote control, sharpening its edge over competitors in that space, like iControl and 4HomeMedia.