Editor’s note: Most electronics integrators who use Panamax/Furman’s BlueBolt remote monitoring systems do so because of their ability to reboot connected rack components remotely, without requiring costly and time-sucking truck rolls. Though the systems can also monitor the energy consumption of the rack components, this is not the primary driver for their use. Regardless, remote monitoring systems like BlueBolt  help make systems integrators sustainable in other ways. Tommy Kissell of Eco High Fidelity in Carrollton, Texas, explains:


BlueBolt also allows scheduling of components to be shut down for energy conservation.
BlueBolt also allows scheduling of components to be shut down for energy conservation.
How many Thanksgivings, 4th of Julys or Saturday nights have been spoiled by a custom integration client’s frozen satellite receiver or cable box, router or modem? It used to be that the only answer was to roll out a van and send technicians. The technicians’ weekend interrupted, the overtime cost, fuel, and the variable of a van on the road all factor in when the phone rings.

Now custom electronics integrators have evolved equipment racks into command centers that control and monitor entire homes and buildings. Distributed audio, video, automation and subsystems require monitoring, energy management and remote access. Every project has the potential to evolve our sustainability, and remote monitoring technologies like Panamax/Furman’s BlueBolt are taking us there.

BlueBolt’s remote power and energy management system provides real-time, cloud-based control and monitoring that allows integrators to remotely access and reboot equipment connected to some Panamax and Furman IP-addressable power management products. It also allows energy monitoring and scheduled energy conservation by cutting power to some components when they’re not in use, making the rack itself more energy-efficient and sustainable. BlueBolt also has a large and growing network in its Control Partners Program that includes AMX, Crestron, Elan, RTI  and URC, enabling dealers to integrate these systems with BlueBolt technology.

No longer do crews have to drive many miles to reset systems. Today, with more installations revolving around centralized distribution, BlueBolt’s ability to monitor and control the centralized components remotely makes integrators more sustainable. For example, if there is a lock up with a processor or satellite receiver, BlueBolt allows for a remote reset, which fixes the problem and creates the domino effect of sustainability. The technician does not have to drive his vehicle to the van, and then the van to the client—and this saving grace lowers the integration firm’s carbon footprint. It also alleviates the frustration of the client, because technicians do not have to go into the home on evenings and weekends. Clients with secondary residences or larger homes with rooms they use sporadically will benefit from the energy conservation and monitoring features.

BlueBolt's MD2-ZB plug-in module has status lights for each outlet and communicates energy usage and control signals via a ZigBee gateway and RF wireless mesh network.
BlueBolt’s MD2-ZB plug-in module has status lights for each outlet and communicates energy usage and control signals via a ZigBee gateway and RF wireless mesh network.
The limitations of BlueBolt are in the rack.  The rack-based systems cannot monitor the whole house’s energy, but only the components connected to the system. BlueBolt does offer a wirelessly communicating MD2-ZB plug-in module to be used throughout the house to control, protect and monitor devices, but the modules are somewhat bulky and can be unattractive in homes, and you have to plug one into every outlet you want to monitor, which can get pricey at $100 piece.

More energy monitoring and control systems are becoming available through control and automation companies, such as Savant’s SmartEnergy and Crestron’s Fusion EM software and Green Light power meter. And progress is being made in some installations that incorporate circuit-level monitoring such as Powerhouse Dynamics’ eMonitor with control systems, though this often requires some extra programming.

We clearly need to see more systems combining automation and energy monitoring, effectively creating true energy management systems. But systems like BlueBolt are a good start toward making your company more efficient and sustainable. Every van that does not have to roll is a step in the right direction and lessens your carbon footprint. That is a very good thing. Now it’s time to take it to the next level by combining seamless control, monitoring and automation.

Tommy Kissell is the owner/president of sustainable electronics integrator Eco High Fidelity of Carrollton, Texas, and a regular contributor to GreenTech Advocates. See some of his company’s cool installs in the links below.