Good circuits maintain the important thing to true whole-home backup
With the advancement of the Internet of Things and the automation of the entire home, it is surprising that simply managing energy storage systems is not part of the equation. Typically, when a homeowner attaches a battery, only a few circuits are rewired for energy backup. The bedroom lighting may not receive backup power, but at least the refrigerator and air conditioning are still on.
This is usually the biggest educational barrier for installation companies. This explains that the lithium batteries on the market cannot provide backup for the whole house. Morgan Brawner, SunPower’s vice president of business development at esaSolar, said that conversation was often challenging for the central Florida installer. Many customers are interested in storing power outages caused by hurricanes and believe that a Tesla Powerwall will provide power for the entire home.
“Energy storage is not a commodity that can be easily added and forgotten as a line item,” he said. “It takes some real conversation about how much power a battery can run. We use a final configuration document when we complete our engineering package that our customers sign and that clearly states which circuits we are securing to ensure there are no surprises on the day of installation. “
New generation electrical panels and intelligent circuitry can change that conversation. Instead of just securing some loads via a protected load field, intelligent circuits and energy management software enable the load to be switched. Someone can turn off A / C assistance for a while to turn on some lights instead.
This ability to select or automate which circuits to support in energy storage is a key selling point for Lumin’s hardware / software combination. Lumin is a physical box installed next to a home’s electrical panel. It enables the entire house to be secured (on different schedules) by making all the circuits intelligent. System owners can use an app to manage their energy consumption and protect their batteries from premature loss of juice.
EsaSolar’s SunPower has installed Lumin on about a quarter of its battery projects and expects that number to increase as the storage market continues to grow. Brawner described Lumin as a “game changer” for homeowners to better combine the surveillance experience with real-time usage behavior. Instead of just monitoring the battery, Lumin can actually manage usage.
“I think the future of PV and energy storage will include a lot more innovations in intelligent energy management to provide better visibility into energy behavior trends and home energy consumption,” he said.
Lumin was launched in 2016 to drive green energy adoption by improving the technology of proven breaker panels. Instead of replacing the house’s breaker panel with a brand new configuration, Lumin is a simple add-on that works with any brand of battery and electrical panel, said company co-founder and CCO Kevin O’Shea.
“Replacing an existing breaker plate with a brand new one is very time-consuming and labor-intensive before adding to the cost of the product itself,” he said. “Our approach enables us to meet market demand for intelligent and responsive load control without these high up-front costs.”
Another product in the emerging smart circuit market is Span’s control panel. In contrast to Lumin, the Span Smart Panel replaces the conventional circuit breaker panel and becomes the primary energy and control node for a house. Instead of juggling the maintenance of two boxes, Span makes all the circuits at their source intelligent.
Span was launched in select markets in 2019 and offers intelligent customization options for 32 circuits. If the power fails, the Span Smart Panel isolates the house and allows the customer to control important loads via a smartphone app. Span, previously led by executives and engineers at Tesla, Amazon and Sunrun, has built relationships with LG Chem and Panasonic, with the battery companies offering Span as a package. The panel is currently available in California and Hawaii. New markets will follow shortly.
“Self-sufficiency and in-home control are paramount for many homeowners as power outage issues are now compounded by orders for coronavirus accommodations,” said Arch Rao, Span’s founder and CEO, in a press release. “Millions of power outages in California last fall, and shutdowns are starting again as utilities perform preventative maintenance in fire hazard areas. We designed the Span Smart Panel to give homeowners greater energy independence in the face of these growing challenges. With Span, you have better control over your energy at home, especially when you need it most. “
While battery companies offer monitoring through their own apps, they don’t give the user control. A smart circuit setup can monitor the state of charge and control the load at the same time. According to O’Shea, the Lumin system remains in “watch mode” to automatically regulate the loads. It ensures that the home’s microgrid does not run out of emergency power prematurely or that the battery power output is exceeded – something that many end users do not worry about.
“Imagine driving a car without a fuel gauge. In addition, the car will drive itself whenever the power fails, regardless of how much gasoline is in the tank, ”said O’Shea. “You just spent [upwards of] $ 20,000 for a battery backup system to make sure the car doesn’t run out of gas. It is really unacceptable to leave it to chance whether the car is out of gas or not, especially since it will start by itself and automatically fail if the power goes out. “
O’Shea said it is the responsibility of energy management technologies like Lumin to protect customers from unexpected or too rapid “gas shortages”.
Both Lumin and Span have met the UL standard for power management devices (UL 916), while Span also meets UL 67 as a regular electrical panel. The next hurdle for these smart circuit companies is wider market adoption. Brawner with esaSolar believes this is only a matter of time.
“For PV monitoring, homeowners want insight into whether their system is generating electricity and whether there are any problems. After a few months it will look like seeing paint dry. For storage, the monitoring applications are very similar, ”said Brawner. “That is the problem that Lumin solves. For a homeowner, the Lumin offers interesting information in real time to close the gap between technical monitoring and energy consumption at home. “