This project's funding goal was not reached on June 26, 2014.
About this project
Less that 24 hours left! We've heard many of you would like to back us but aren't sure what to order. It's a lot to think about, so let us help you! Our pledge manager is a great way to build a custom system but we're here to help you figure out the details.
Call us on 617 314 6260 between 8am to 6pm Eastern Time and we'll help you build the customized solution that's right for your home or business.
People are always asking if we can control temperatures in individual rooms by creating new zones. Until now we couldn't. Today, we're thrilled to announce the newest addition to our incredible HVAC & energy management system: Embue Vent™.
Many homes have rooms with uneven temperatures - too cold or too hot when compared to the rest of the house. Embue Vent™ solves these issues by replacing your existing registers with ones that are affordable, reliable, and automated. Embue can now intelligently operate your central air vents to match personal comfort preferences, patterns of activity, or energy savings goals - creating new individual zones of comfort and efficiency for each room.
Embue Vent™ is the product of a partnership we're announcing with Jackson Systems, a leading manufacturer of zoning solutions and mechanical components for the HVAC industry. We're excited to work with them and they'll be manufacturing Embue Vent™ from their facility in Indianapolis, Indiana.
We're incredibly excited by this new development. It's something we've been working toward for a while now. Starting immediately you can now select a reward that includes Embue Vent™, or create a completely customized system using our online pledge manager.
We've built a product to address the most important aspect of your home or business - the equipment responsible for your comfort & your energy use. We think our system can do some pretty amazing things - all while improving your efficiency & creating savings. We've come pretty far on our own, but really need your support and interest to make this product a reality.
Automates efficiency. Embue replaces your thermostat to make smarter heating & cooling decisions. Occupancy-based optimizations reduce your energy bills by 5-25%.
Improves comfort. Wireless sensors in each room for more accurate measurement of temperature & humidity. Controllable vents create individual comfort zones. Optimized for where you spend time, not the hallway.
Loves zoning. Control multiple zones for 1/2 the cost of comparable products. Create new per room zones easily and inexpensively. Works with a wide variety of zone controllers and zoning systems.
Analyzes use. Tracks electricity, natural gas, propane and fuel oil use - continually reading consumption and noting efficiency changes.
Spots problems. Combines energy use, weather data, HVAC runtime information, occupant, and building to assess how things are working.
Keeps tabs. A properly maintained system uses less energy and has a greater service life. Embue can tell when efficiency is lagging, telling you and your service provider it's time for maintenance.
Reduces worry. Our optional monitoring service can send performance info & emergency equipment alerts to your service professional. Added peace of mind when you're away for extended periods.
Blends in. Small indoor sensors designed to be distinctive yet unobtrusive. Works without wires and is easily placed or repositioned with non-damaging adhesive strips.
Scales nicely. A single Embue Core is powerful enough support multiple connected spaces. Great for multi-family homes, apartment complexes and small businesses.
Thinks locally. Embue doesn't depend on the cloud. It keeps everything running even when your Internet isn't. Settings, preferences and personal data stay within your home and are only shared with your permission.
Embue Core™ - An Operating System for Your HomeA controller designed to manage your heating and cooling system in the most effective way possible. Powerful, efficient, and capable of a whole lot more. Connects to your router via Ethernet or Wi-Fi to allow remote access.
Embue Module™ - Optimizes Your HVAC Zones
Ditch the clunky thermostat and free yourself from the limitations of wires in your walls. Installs directly at your furnace or air conditioning unit and receives signals allowing it to optimize your comfort and efficiency.
Embue Sensor™ - Keeps Tabs on Every Room
Precise measurement of temperature, humidity, and occupancy in every important room of your house. Low-power wireless allows you to install on any interior wall using non-damaging wall adhesive or drywall screws. Ultra-low power design provides a battery life of 5+ years.
Embue Vent™ - Create Per Room Zones
Add Embue Vent to deal with that problem too-hot or too-cold room or to save money and energy with multiple Vents in rooms that are seldom occupied.
Energy & Fuel Monitoring
Real-time wireless readings from most utility electric and gas meters - no additional equipment required. Track oil and propane tank levels and usage with our add-on sensors.
We've designed Embue to manage comfort and efficiency automatically based on patterns of activity and anticipated return times. No more rigid programmable schedules that always end up in override mode because they're too difficult to update.
Our system is designed to know when it's safe to put your home in setback mode, how deep it's allowed to go based on anticipated occupant return times and the historical performance of your home & its HVAC system.
You're already walking around with a sophisticated display controller in your pocket, why mount another one on the wall for every zone in your home? Embue can be reliably accessed from most of major web browsers and moble device platforms - making it easy for you to check-in and make adjustments from anywhere.
Is your heating and cooling system working as well as it could be? A system in need of maintenance could be costing you significantly more than it should. Unless it's completely broken you may not notice that creeping loss of efficiency.
You can always access your energy use data for free, but many customers would love to have a service which connects to their building manager or HVAC service provider - helping keep an eye on their system and raising issues before they turn into major problems.
For that reason we've created an (optional) subscription-based monitoring service called Embue Switchboard.
Embue tracks the electricity and fuel consumption at your home or business and performs continuous calculations to determine how your HVAC equipment is running. It's great for apartment complexes, vacation homes, and customers that frequently travel.
If you live in a part of the country that experiences extreme temperatures you'll know the importance of a quick service response when equipment fails. And continuous performance diagnostics can indicate the need for maintenance - helping prevent those emergency breakdowns and extending the life of your HVAC system.
Don't worry, we've built Embue Switchboard with privacy safeguards, never giving service providers detailed data about your patterns of activity. We only provide system performance and uptime data - and only to the service provider you select.
Embue Switchboard will be made available to customers in 2015 after we've completed our Kickstarter work and successfully shipped product to all our backers. HVAC contractors & building managers participating in our Kickstarter will be given preferred access to Switchboard prototypes and materials in 2014, however.
Tech specs & our compatibility matrix are also available as a PDF download.
Embue Vent Sizes & Specs
We'll be adding Embue Vent to our official spec sheet shortly. Until then, we wanted to provide information on available sizes and colors.
Embue Vent™ - Metallic
Colors: White, Brown
Sizes Available (inches): 8x4, 10x4, 10x6, 12x4, 12x6, 14x4
Embue Vent™ - Plastic
Colors: Beige (paintable)
Sizes Available (inches): 10x4, 12x4, 12x6
Customers do not need to select colors or sizes at this time, only the quantity of vents needed. If we're successfully funded we'll follow up to confirm size/color.
We've been lucky to work with some amazing and brilliant folks over the last few years. Our core team is a talented bunch - and experienced at bringing products to market. We've worked at places like Bell Laboratories, Lucent, Rockwell Automation and EMC - across technical disciplines and always with a passion for innovation. Collectively we've got 14 patents to our names, and with Embue now have a several more in the works.
In 2011 we also co-founded a non-profit organization called Greentown Labs. In just three short years it's become one of the most successful hardware & clean energy incubators in the world - now with over (40) early stage companies in residence. We've graduated to our own office space in Boston but we still keep a desk at Greentown. It's an awesome place and an important part of our story.
AWARDS & RECOGNITION
2010: SBIR Phase I Award - US Department of Energy
2011: SBIR Phase II Award - US Department of Energy
2012: City of Boston Green Triple Decker Pilots
2012: Cleantech Open National Finalist
2013: Fraunhofer Energy Savings Study
2013: Innovate Mass Commercialization Grant
2013: City of Boston E+ Pilot Program
We've found a great group of advisors to keep us on the right path. They bring with them valuable inside knowledge of the the HVAC industry, a wealth of sales expertise, and tons of building science & mechanical systems knowledge - both practical and technical. They've also been generous enough to share it with us.
Things got moving for us in 2010 when we secured research & development funding from the US Department of Energy. Our initial work was an effort to create a platform that could manage devices across a number of network types. The resulting software is an integral component of our framework and the basis for what we're now calling Embue Core.
Our team hand-built (20) low-power units with dedicated communications modules in 2011. We designed, developed and tested our operating platform atop an open-source linux stack running on this hardware. These units are still in use at our homes and in our pilot sites today.
You may notice our earlier work has the name Coincident. We officially relaunched as Embue in 2014 as we felt a name change was in order. We hope it's an improvement...if not, at least it's 1/2 the characters. :-)
In late 2011 and early 2012 we started working with the City of Boston as part of a program called Green Triple Decker. It was a pilot project that provided incentives for owners of multi-family homes that wanted to invest in deep energy retrofits.
We arranged to install our management system and offered to monitor the electricity and gas use while providing an improved way to manage 3rd party WiFi thermostats via our web-based interfaces.
The project didn't work out exactly as we planned, and was a fairly major eye-opening experience. We had a number of valuable takeaways:
- We discovered devices that relied on WiFi performed poorly across floors in places where lots of networks were running.
- We learned that existing wiring was a significant installation challenge and cost driver in retrofit environments.
- We found the selected communicating thermostats unreliable and difficult to use.
We took a serious look at our business model and technical architecture through the summer of 2012 and decided we needed to focus on providing better management of heating & cooling systems with a new type of sensor network and control system - one that solved the challenges we were seeing in the field.
We realized that in many ways, the traditional thermostat was the problem, not the solution. We pulled together a weekend design session and started by rethinking some very basic questions:
- Why can't we measure temperature where people spend time?
- Do the controls that cycle heating & cooling have to be in the thermostat?
- Why is everyone putting expensive touchscreens & power-hungry processors in every thermostat?
- Can we reduce the size of the devices installed inside the house?
By deconstructing the thermostat into its constituent parts we felt we could solve the problems we were seeing while simultaneously enabling a new level of per room functionality. While other companies are making the thermostat bigger, glossier, and packing it with power-hungry electronics, we're going minimal.
With matching funds from the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center we kicked off a project in 2013 to help several local architecture and construction firms meet their LEED and green building targets by providing our system for use in 10 housing units spread across three project sites in the Boston area.
The project is now nearing completion and is significant for us in several ways. First, we've used this program as a vehicle to complete the production manufacturing of Embue Sensor. Next, it's allowed us to advance development of our cloud and analytic capabilities, fundamental parts of Embue Switchboard. And finally, it's given us a great deal of experience working with larger device networks and third party devices like sub-meters and load controllers, which we intend to officially support in 2015.
Taking our sensor from concept to manufacturing has been a great design challenge for our team. First, create a sensor that accurately measures temperature, humidity and occupant movement. Next, make it inexpensive enough so that most customers can put one in every room of their house. Then, make it wireless and ensure it has ridiculously long battery life (5+ years). Oh, and be sure the industrial design is both distinctive and unobtrusive.
From hand sketches, to CAD drawings, to prototypes, to injection molded and manufactured parts. We're pretty happy with the result - and hope you will be too.
As part of the E+ program we're manufacturing 200 of these sensors for pilot production and are now in the final stages of testing and certification. It's been a great experience, and we'll be working with the same manufacturers as to deliver the shipping versions of Embue Core and Embue Sensor.
We've already started manufacturing Embue Sensor and things are looking great. We've got a few minor changes planned for our next batch of boards otherwise it's pretty well complete.
Embue Core and Embue Module, however, require some additional work. We've proved out our designs in the laboratory and at our pilot sites, but much like the work that's gone into Embue Sensor, our final enclosure design, circuit boards, and design for manufacturability (DFM) work takes time and additional capital to complete.
We've included some prototypes and design references below to give you an idea what we expect the final versions of Embue Core and Embue Module will look like. We already have some modifications in mind (e.g. reduce the size/volume of Embue Core, improved wire connectors for Embue Module) - but still also have the ability to make some adjustments. Through Kickstarter we're giving you an opportunity to help influence the final details our product.
We've designed Embue Module to control a wide variety of residential and commercial HVAC equipment types. This section is a guide to the types of systems we work with and controls we can replace.
NOTE: If you're unsure about compatibility with your equipment after reading this section please consult a heating & cooling professional - or send us a question with details about your configuration.
Embue Module is installed next to your HVAC equipment and connects to the manufacturer's control board in the same way your existing thermostat does today, only with much shorter wires,
If you carefully take the cover off your existing thermostat you should be able to see labels on the connections. We can replace thermostats that utilize any of the following standard terminals:
Rh, Rc, W1, W2, W3, Y1, Y2, O, B, H, D, G, C
Works with heating system types:
- Forced air heating through ducts and registers
- Hot water baseboards or radiators
- Radiant underfloor heating
- Steam radiators
- Heat pumps (including dual fuel)
- Millivolt gas systems
Works with cooling system types:
- Ducted central air conditioning
- Small duct, high velocity (SDHV) systems.
- Plug-in window or thru-the-wall units*
*Limited functionality. Requires use of an additional plug load controller.
Doesn't yet work with:
- Line voltage controls (often used for electric strip heating)
- Hard-wired through-the-wall air conditioners
- Ductless mini-split air conditioners or heat pumps
We've designed Embue Core to read from a large number of electricity and gas meters used by utilities today right out of the box. Generally speaking, there are two types of utility meters the Embue Core is designed to read:
ERT meters. This kind of meter wirelessly transmits consumption data that is read by a utility vehicle driving by the house every month.
There are many makes and models of electric meters that support ERT. One way to check is to look for a sticker or label on the meter that has a two digit number followed by an eight digit number:
Usually it is near an ITRON or FCC logo. If you have a meter with mechanical dials, sometimes this sticker is visible on the sides or bottom of the glass, rather than the front.
In the case of natural gas there are two common types of ERT meters, the 100G and 40G, both identified by a label on the front of the meter. Embue Core should be able to read all 100G models, but reading the 40G is not possible without help from your gas utility. Contact us for more details.
ZigBee-Enabled Smart Meters. These are also referred to as two-way or Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) meters. They are less prevalent than ERT meters but are being installed rapidly across North America. If you’re lucky enough to be in an area with one of these meters, hopefully your utility has enabled communication with in-home devices. Contact us for more details to find out if we can support direct reading from the smart meter in your region.
If you use oil or propane you'll know it's hard to know much fuel you’re using, and more importantly, how much is left in the tank. With an additional sensor applied to the tank, Embue Core can read most heating oil and propane tanks found in North America.
If your propane tank has a "Remote Ready" gauge (look under the dome cover), then it's likely you can connect a sensor allowing us to read it.
Most residential fuel oil tanks have at least two threaded plugs (2” diameter) at the top. One is usually taken up by a visual tank level indicator. If another is free, however, that's where you can install an Embue oil tank monitor.
We've put a lot of time into the software architecture and platform that makes up Embue Core. We're going to be releasing more details over the course of the next 30 days - but it's designed to be scalable, multi-protocol capable, and field upgradeable.
Don't worry - we won't keep all the fun to ourselves. We're committing to provide a web services API that allows you to read sensor data, energy use, equipment state, modify cooling and heating settings, and receive event notifications when things change, all with appropriate security and privacy controls.
We're planning to allow more access as time goes by but are taking a cautious approach to the changes initiated by third party systems. We want to ensure we've established high levels of confidence with our customers and partners before we allow checked 3rd party modifications or developed code to run on our system.
Developers that would like to begin working with our API can gain early access by backing us for an OPEN SESAME reward. For $995 we'll give you exclusive pre-release access to our design documents, an invitation to our all-day developer session in September (concludes with an evening reception), and $500 worth of product when it ships in December.
Risks and challenges
We've put in a lot of time into addressing technology risks through our laboratory and in-home pilot site testing. Our work with Embue Sensor demonstrates that we can manage our manufacturing supply chain with both domestic and offshore contract manufacturers.
That said, there are additional components to our system which must be manufactured and risks that could affect our ability to deliver a working product to you in a timely fashion. We've attempted to identify several that are specific to our product below:
MANUFACTURING RISK - Our product will have components produced both domestically and overseas. Unexpected challenges with our contract manufacturers could lead to delays in delivery. At present we've completed projects with 2 of 3 contract manufacturers we intend to work with, but will utilize a new manufacturer for Embue Core circuit boards. We've taken steps to reduce these risks by engaging each contractor and supplier we intend to utilize for this project, gaining their buy-in and lining up tentative commitments around their timelines for manufacturing and delivery.
We rely primarily on off-the-shelf components and have lined up supplier commitments around all single-source parts. Our enclosures and cases require tooling to produce injection-molded parts, but we've successfully worked with our chosen toolmaker and injection molder before and have been quite happy with the results.
ENGINEERING RISK - We've built working circuit boards and prototypes for all the components of our system. We are updating the schematics and layout for our Embue Core and Embue Module designs, however. We take great measures to ensure functional boards can be delivered by our contract manufacturers but errors that could result in re-work or delays are possible.
INSTALLATION RISK - We strongly recommend backers utilize an HVAC professional to install their system. While the process is quite simple, there are a number of different types of HVAC systems and it's possible to improperly install and wire your controls. We believe this risk is limited and worked extensively with the HVAC service professionals to develop a product that is easy to install.
COMPATIBILITY RISK - We've designed Embue to work with a wide variety of HVAC equipment, meters, and sensor types. There are systems we cannot work with today, however, such as ductless mini-splits, equipment that requires proprietary and manufacturer-specific controls, and certain types of utility electric meters. Please refer to our product specifications and compatibility matrices above for a more complete list to determine if Embue will work for your home or business. If you decide to back our project and later discover Embue will not work in your home or business, we commit to work with you to resolve the problem or issue a refund.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
Yes, it does. However, Embue does much more than a thermostat. It gives you the possibility of automating the temperature settings according to your preferences and occupancy patterns, to adjust them manually or according to a pre-set schedule. Because Embue communicates with electricity, gas, oil and propane meters, you’ll always have access to your energy usage and you’ll get a notification when Embue detects any potential issues. Optionally, a subscription to Embue Switchboard will allow your heating and cooling service provider to monitor the health and efficiency of your system and to get ahead of potential problems.
Embue’s default mode automatically adjusts the temperature according to the preferences you choose and based on the occupancy patterns the system observes. Using this automated mode requires no manual adjustment. However, it’s also possible to set up a weekly schedule of temperature settings, like a traditional programmable thermostat, and at any time you can manually change the temperature from a smart device (iOS or android phone and/or tablet) or from a computer.
Embue’s display is your smart phone, tablet or computer. From there you’ll normally just set temperature preferences and let the Embue system automatically adjust your heating & cooling based on occupancy. Temperature and settings can be monitored and modified manually at any time via the same user interface.
Embue can help save energy in two main ways: first, by automatically reducing heating and cooling energy use when no-one is home or when everyone is asleep (saves between 5% and 20%), and second, by noticing looming maintenance issues that are lowering efficiency and alerting your HVAC contractor (an additional 5-30%). These ranges are based on our own and industry research studies. The biggest energy savings will occur in houses that are unoccupied for longer periods each day, in older less efficient houses, and in more extreme climates zones. Embue’s intelligence is able to save even more energy with heat pump systems.
No. Embue Sensors are designed to detect relatively small movements. Once motion is no longer detected, the system waits for some time before setting an unoccupied mode.
The easiest way to determine the minimum system you need for a single-family home is to count the number of heating / cooling zones you have in the house. This is, count the number of active thermostats there are. You’ll need one Embue Core for the house, at least one sensor per active thermostat (for optimal performance one sensor per main room is recommended) and one Embue Module per zone.
If you're adding Embue Vent, you'll need an Embue Module dedicated to control it (one Module can control up to 4 Embue Vents). Also, make sure there's at least one sensor in the room where it'll be installed.
If the rewards we offer don’t fulfill what you need for your house, you can create a custom package. Use the Pledge Manager to determine the total amount that needs to be pledged and make sure your total pledge on Kickstarter matches the amount indicated by the Pledge Manager. We'll send a survey at the end of our campaign to verify your order. If you want more information or if you're still not sure how many units you need send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Pledge Manager link: http://embue.com/kickstarter/configure.xhtml
Embue operates your heating and cooling even if your Internet connection or home WiFi network goes down. Embue uses its own separate low power wireless network to talk between Sensors, Modules and the Core and is unaffected. However, access via your mobile device and remote monitoring will generally not be available, so changing preferences, manually overriding comfort settings, and monitoring won’t be accessible. If you are manually controlling Embue, the system will honor the last occupancy mode set.
Yes, you can. We’ve created a tool called Pledge Manager to customize your system and determine the amount that needs to be pledged for it.
Go to the Pledge Manager link, http://embue.com/kickstarter/configure.xhtml, and add the devices you require, you’ll see the total in the upper right hand side. Go to your Kickstarter profile and click on the button “Manage Your Pledge”, make sure the total pledge matches the one indicated by the Pledge Manager. Click “Continue to Next Step” button at the bottom of the Kickstarter page and complete the process.
Industry experts recommend that you can safely close up to 30% of the registers in your house (or 30% of the registers connected to a single air handler or furnace). Closing too many registers impedes airflow through the equipment, increases air pressure, lowers efficiency and potentially shortens equipment life. That’s why Embue automatically ensures never to exceed that limit. And Embue automatically monitors for problems indicated by “short cycling”.
In almost all buildings, you will save energy by setting the temperature lower in the winter and higher in the summer in unoccupied rooms. It’s true that some heated or cooled air will leak into those rooms from the conditioned parts of the building, but research and industry studies have shown that you can save anywhere from 5% to over 20% of your heating or cooling bills by not conditioning a few seldom used rooms such as bedrooms or in the basement. Embue can automatically determine which rooms are not occupied and if they do become occupied, open the vents and bring them to a comfortable temperature. Further, with Embue you can measure whether you are saving energy when you try different comfort and savings preferences.
You certainly can. However, for a large home or business, there are duct zoning products that Embue also works with that may be cost effective to install.
Here is a brief overview of installation which does not substitute for the complete installation instructions we will supply with the product. Embue Vent is installed in place of an existing register. The white wire must be connected to a 24 VAC power source. The yellow wire must be connected to one of the control terminals on an Embue Module. Typically the Embue Module will be mounted next to the furnace or air handler, both wires are run back to the equipment, and the power wire connected to the 24 VAC transformer on the equipment. One way to run the wire is inside the supply duct. As an alternative, the Embue Module and a separate 24 VAC transformer can be mounted closer to the Embue Vent if wiring back to the furnace is problematic.
Use power open for rooms where the vent will normally be closed, e.g. seldom occupied rooms. Use power close for normally occupied rooms. The choice is not critical however and either type will work in any room.
- (30 days)