Washington, DC, U.S.A. --- (METERING.COM) --- June 8, 2009 – The Utility Smart Network Access Port (U-SNAP) Alliance, comprising a group of utility industry leaders representing utilities and manufacturers, is developing a standard home area network (HAN) connector and serial interface enabling consumer products to support a variety of communication protocols.

Modeled after the USB standard commonly used for attaching hardware devices in a computer, the U-SNAP specification is aimed at enabling any HAN standard to use any vendor’s smart meter as a gateway into the home, without adding additional hardware in the smart meter.

Electric utilities worldwide are deploying millions of smart meters as part of their AMI (automatic metering infrastructure) programs. For most utilities, the rollout will extend beyond the meter to energy consuming products through a HAN, which may be deployed to connect thermostats, in-home displays, pool pumps, water heaters and various other products together, forming a responsive energy aware network.

Like the USB specification, U-SNAP addresses the physical size, electrical characteristics, timing, and protocols required for linking HAN devices to smart meters, the Alliance says in a White Paper, adding that over 1 million U-SNAP cards are expected to ship in 2009 through traditional retail channels and utility specific programs.

The root of the specification relies on the Serial Peripheral Interface (SPI) port found on most communication chips as the transport layer.

“Having learned valuable lessons from the computer industry, the U-SNAP Alliance is providing a solid foundation for the next wave in consumer energy aware products. The emerging HAN industry can now focus its efforts on developing and selling products to consumers and utilities rather than spending the next decade debating standards,” says the White Paper.

For more information see U-SNAP Alliance Industry White Paper: Enabling the home area network market.