Christian Long

John La Grou: Plugs Smart Power Outlets

In TED Talks on April 26, 2010 at 3:51 pm

Reflection by ADITYA M.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

John La Grou:  Plugs Smart Power Outlets

There is a ridiculous amount of deaths and injuries caused by elctrical fires each year. Each year about 20,000 people are killed and injured in about 350,000 home fires. What if it was possible to stop these electrical fires before they started?

John La Grou and some of his buddies figured out a way to stop electrical fires and save lives.

La Grou found out that the main cause of electical fires is misused, faulty appliances and electrical wiring. If they were to stop fires, their invention needed to deal with all of these problems. He thought about circuit breakers. Thomas Edison had invented the circuit breaker in 1879. The circuit breaker as 130 year old technology. This was another problem. This old technology put over 80% of all home electrical fires under the safety threshold of circuit breakers.

He considered all of these problems and came to the conclusion that any electrical appliance has to be able to “talk” to the power receptacle itself.

Any electrical applaince need to be able to communicate with the power outlet and be able to tell it what to do, and th power outlet needs to be smart enough to do it. For example, the electrical appliance needs to be able to tell the power outlet if it is drawing too much current and ask the power outlet to turn the electrical appliance off.

For the electrical appliances to be able to communicate with the power receptacle, they put a 10 cent digital transponder, a data tag, in the appliance plug, and put an inexpensive data reader inside the receptacle so they could communicate. Now the electrical system in every home becomes an intelligent network. In this system, the intelligent receptacle turns itself of when too much current is flowing, therefore stopping a fire from starting. They called this technology EFCI, electrical fault circuit interruptor. About 2500 children have burn injuries related to electrical
receptacles and have to go to emergency rooms. An intelligent receptacle stops injuries from occuring because it’s always off until an intelligent plug is detected.

Another huge advantage in EFCI is in how much power it saves.

It reduces global energy consumption by allowing remote control access to every outlet in every home and business. Now businesses can shut down unused rooms from controlled locations, or even cell phones. There are some 10 billion power outlets only within the US, and If they can be shut off most of the time, power savings are massive. Power has been a major issue lately and I think a good way of saving energy has finally been found. EFCI saves lives and saves power.

This invention is genius and will benefit the whole world.


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