Ask The Solar Expert:816.607.1349

Learn From the Solar Expert

Learn From the Solar Expert RSS


Solar Smart Homes: IoT Enables Powerful Energy Integration

Solar Smart Homes: IoT Enables Powerful Energy Integration

As we discussed in a recent blog, when the Internet of Things (IoT) meets solar power it enables efficient, effective energy consumption in the buildings where we live and work. The interconnection of devices that we use to facilitate our daily lives provides the opportunity to better understand and control our power use. Through networked capabilities and shared data, IoT solutions show us the future of holistic energy generation and implementation.

While integrated “smart” homes are becoming more accessible than ever before, many of us still don’t fully understand what they look like in practice. Let’s examine the possibilities that are created when solar power and IoT devices combine in our homes - making our lives easier, giving us greater control over our power consumption, and moderating energy use for greater efficiency and lower costs.

Smart Homes Make it Easy

How is a smart home different than any other? By leveraging interconnected devices (the Internet of Things) to create a network that can communicate and gather data through a centralized controller. As a concept drawing produced by WISE Power shows, solar or other alternative energy sources can be connected to a battery storage system (which may also be grid-connected), which then powers an array of home appliances through a control unit.

This means that everything from lighting and computers to thermostats and sprinkler systems and even home security systems can all be controlled through a central hub. The controller is the primary IoT component, gathering data about power use and communicating between devices to ensure that a home isn’t exceeding its capacity to provide the energy it needs. For homeowners, the controller makes it easy to direct various devices (including appliances) from their cell phone. Was the TV left on or the garage door left open? Just check your phone and make the fix from anywhere.

Smart Homes Give Us Power

Putting greater control into the hands of homeowners is only one part of the smart home equation. Interconnected devices are able to share information about energy usage and provide accessible, actionable information that gives homeowners the ability to better moderate energy use. By automating parts of their smart home system, users can prioritize energy efficiency without walking through the house to check which appliances are running, or even being at home at all.

This automation provides convenience and ease, but also greater control. As Energy Matters suggests, “Imagine having a garden irrigation system that responds to current weather conditions and a thermostat you can control while you’re away from home, so your house is at a comfortable temperature when you return.” And if homeowners would prefer to spend less time thinking about how things are going at home, “A modern system will also learn from your configurations and habits, operating silently and seamlessly in the background; making some dreary and repetitive tasks just things of the past.”

Smart Homes Use Less Energy

The most important achievement of a smart home system from an energy perspective is that these buildings are able to create energy efficiency at a level that was previously impossible. Because all or most major appliances can be networked and communicate their energy needs to a central hub, a smart home can prioritize vital systems and eliminate waste from devices that aren’t currently needed or in use.

Energy Matters provides a great example - “you may want to run your washing machine during the day; but this is when electricity is most expensive. An automated home could “instruct” a washing machine to only turn on if the weather is favourable for solar electricity generation and/or your battery system has sufficient charge to support the cycle.” As a result...

Smart Homes Save Money

By enabling greater efficiency and effectiveness, smart home systems reduce a home’s impact on the environment and also save homeowners money. While they are capable of creating savings in any region, they may be especially effective in areas where energy prices frequently fluctuate or consumers experience significant demand charges by enabling automated peak shaving protocols.

The costs of smart home systems and connected devices continue to fall, as do the up-front costs of solar-plus-storage systems, making this a great time to implement both for homeowners who are eager to start seeing savings on their energy bill.

Would you like to live in a smart home and experience the benefits they provide? To learn more about our solar-plus-storage solutions and smart home recommendations, contact us today!

Let’s Talk

What Our Clients Are Saying

I have researched adding PV to my home for several years and have met with several PV providers in the KC area and they tend to fall into two broad categories, the new and low budget operators who got into this to ride the wave and are not that knowledgeable, and the commercial providers who have little interest in working with a homeowner and are geared to providing a much larger system where some economy of scale must come into play. Both my wife and I are architects and we wanted something different and it was challenging to find someone who was interested in doing something out of the ordinary. Neither or those types were interested in working with us as we were trying to create something a bit different. they each wanted to sell us their pre-configured solutions.

 

Fortunately we found Bob Solger. He has been a delight to work with and is incredibly knowledgeable and responsive. We wanted to create a solar carport that would provide cover and protection for our cars, but would also provide shade over part of our patio. In essence, the big idea was to create an outdoor pavilion, when, if we wanted to entertain we could move the cars out of the way and have a large covered area for an outdoor gathering. We had selected the Lumos brand of solar panels as they have a very clean look and are partially transparent so some light filters through the panels creating a mottled light pattern on the ground, similar to the shading from a tree. In addition, the system is set up to hide the majority of the connecting wires in the support beams so when you look up at the underside of the PV roof you see a very clean look. Bob recognized our goal and worked with us to ensure the project’s success. Bob identified a structural engineer to design an elegant support structure and found a fabricator to build it affordably. Finally he connected us with a contracting team to clear the space, provide the footings, retaining walls, and pad, who were every bit as careful with everything as you would hope. They were amazingly accommodating to every request and understood that there were a lot of competing challenges that needed to be resolved so we could fit this all in to a very tight location and make it look like it belongs.

 

The bottom line is that it all turned out better than we could have hoped and while it did cost more than the low ball bids received from some of the low budget operators, it was less than the commercially focused suppliers, and more importantly we got the design we wanted and a well-constructed PV carport that will give us great delight for years to come. The best part is of course the savings on our electric bill, which thus far has been averaging around $200/month. So not only do we have a new carport and entertainment patio that our neighbors have been stopping by and admiring (which given that we live in the older Brookside neighborhood and our PV carport is quite modern, we were much relieved) but, our electric bills have been in the under $10/month range.

 

We owe a great debt of gratitude to Bob and his knowledge and team for helping to create an amazing PV carport for us. I’m sure you would be delighted with whatever you engage him to help you with.

Dev & Sue Malik

read more