An image of a smart fridge.

‘Smart’ fridges stay cool by talking to each other

The refrigerator is the single biggest power consumer in most households, so the development of a fridge capable of controlling its own temperature and power consumption from renewable-energy generators, will not only help the hip pocket, but also the environment. (2.59)

  • 21 January 2009 | Updated 25 November 2011

The player will show in this paragraph

Mr Sam West is part of the CSIRO Intelligent Energy team that has been developing a smart fridge capable of maintaining its average temperature while regulating its power consumption from renewable-energy generators, such as solar panels or wind turbines.

The fridges also work as a network of distributed fridges, each fitted with control technology that allows them to communicate with each other via a network to share and store the energy provided by renewable-power generators.

In this Podcast, Mr West explains how supplies of electricity generated from renewable-energy generators can be disrupted by conditions - such as weather - resulting in periods of variable power supply which can destabilise the electricity grid. The smart fridge can help smooth out these fluctuations by turning on and off at the right time.

The fridges are designed to talk to each other, negotiating when it’s a good time to cool down and consume electricity, and when it’s better not to.

Mr West can envisage a time when an entire neighbourhood of fridges will be networked, enabling them to work together to better save demand on the electricity power grid and enable greater penetration of renewable energy into our power supply.

National Research Flagships

CSIRO initiated the National Research Flagships to provide science-based solutions in response to Australia’s major research challenges and opportunities. The nine Flagships form multidisciplinary teams with industry and the research community to deliver impact and benefits for Australia.

Read more about ‘Smart’ fridges stay cool by talking to each other (Media release 13 Jan 09).