Thursday, February 24, 2011

Redesign the Power Grid!

A recent article on interface standards pointed out something that I really like: if you keep an interface stable, people can productively design new products and inventions to that interface. For example, in 1981 when IBM released the entire spec for its new PC, hardware and software developers changed everything in new products, but hewed to the IBM interface, creating a world of compatible invention.

The article that I was reading mentioned the American power grid as an example of stability that furthered invention and progress.

Oh, Yeah?

How many DC transformers do you own? Don’t forget to count the ones for your current gadgets, the ones you have forgotten to throw away, and the ones you are not sure what device they belong to. I’m sure that, in my lifetime, over forty of the gadgets I've bought came these. And I don’t buy that many gadgets. The stupendous cost of these 6 and 12 volt DC transformers, and their constant drain of electricity (we keep them plugged in, don’t we?), could all be eliminated by providing 12 or 24 volts of DC to every home.

Isn’t it way past time to redesign the electrical grid?

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