The power management company recently announced Schneider House, a system that promises information and control over the electricity in your home via an app on your phone. It includes a smart electrical panel, battery backup, electric vehicle charger, solar inverter, smart light switches, dimmers, and smart plugs. Of course, it’s not cheap, costing around $10,000 for a complete system. Not to mention, the installation will be disruptive.
The US Department of Energy sees home energy management systems (HEMS) as an important piece of the puzzle in working towards a smarter grid. But HEMS come in many shapes and sizes. Most of us have already put together systems adapted with smart thermostats, smart plugsand Wi-Fi connected devices. By adding solar panels to generate electricity and batteries for storage, with a control system on top, people who can afford these systems can significantly reduce their energy consumption.
Schneider’s method aims to simplify the whole process. With a full setup, you can monitor electricity usage throughout your home, review usage by device, and see exactly how much everything costs. Automation can be configured to reduce energy waste. For example, you can schedule various outlets and lights to turn off automatically when you’re at work, which can cut power to TVs, smart speakersand more non-essential vampires waiting, specifying that appliances such as your refrigerator should remain on. You can schedule EV recharge during off-peak hours or during the night when electricity is cheaper. With your home battery and solar panels, you can store energy during the day and use it during peak hours to save money. A battery also lets you maintain power for specific outlets in the event of an outage.
Modular home energy management
The brains of this system is Schneider Pulse, a smart electrical panel that interconnects your home’s energy sources, giving you granular control via the Schneider Home app. It allows you to balance the power distribution, which could be especially useful for people with a capacity limit. The system has the smarts to balance your load, perhaps turning off the EV charger when you’re cooking dinner and restarting it after you’re done to reduce the load.
The panel is the essential component, but beyond that, Schneider Home is a modular system. You can pick and choose the other pieces you want. Schneider Boost is a 10 kilowatt (kW) stackable battery, so you can add additional batteries to get the storage you need. Schneider Charge is its 11.5 kW Level 2 EV charger, capable of using solar panels or household batteries to increase charging speed and reduce costs.
The Schneider inverter is a 7.6 kW hybrid inverter that converts solar energy into usable AC electricity. Schneider doesn’t sell solar panels, but the inverter is agnostic, so it should work with whatever solar panel you choose. Florent Berard, global vice president of home strategy and distribution at Schneider Electric, suggests that the intelligence built into the Schneider Pulse panel can optimize your solar installation so you get the most out of it, perhaps even allowing you to go off-grid entirely. .
Wi-Fi connected light switches, dimmers and smart plugs are the final component of Schneider Home. They offer remote control and energy monitoring and work with the Schneider Home app. They even offer Google Home and Amazon Alexa support.
If the name Schneider Electric is familiar to you, you may already have one of its panels in your home. (The company estimates its products are in four out of 10 U.S. homes.) The company says this allows it to compare energy usage, so you can see how your usage compares to the national average in the app, get energy-saving tips, and get alerts about particularly power-hungry gadgets.
The Rise of HEMS
There are many other players in this space, but most companies so far have focused primarily on businesses and large buildings. GE, Siemens, and Honeywell all offer energy management devices, and both Google and Cisco provide services. Tesla Powerwalls has been supplying home batteries for years, allowing people to buy and store electricity during off-peak hours. Bosch has an Energy Manager appand even Honda has developed a HEMS.
The rise of electric vehicles presents more options for HEMS in average households. GM recently announced Ultium housewhich supports bi-directional or vehicle-to-grid charging (V2G), so EV owners can do it they use car batteries to power their homes or supply the grid when renewable energy production fails to meet demand. V2G is strangely something that Schneider Home doesn’t support.
Schneider Electric is also a member of the board of directors of the Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA) and one of the founders of the Smart home standard matter. Since smart homes are a prerequisite for a smarter grid, if Matter can meet its interoperability goal, one of the major barriers to better home energy management will fall. If all of your devices and systems can communicate with each other, it should become a lot easier to put your system together without breaking the bank. There are also open source options, like Home assistantwhich make home energy management much more convenient, provided you’re willing to put the time and effort into research and installation.
With enough installations, HEMS could reduce the load on the power grid. Energy suppliers can offer incentives for people to enable them to optimize their heating systems, for example. A study in Finland found that HEMS systems for heating offered savings of up to 30% and reduced energy consumption, but much depends on the household and energy attitude.
Households could also save money by automating the operation of home appliances or the filling of batteries when electricity is cheaper and more plentiful. Suppliers like Octopus Energy in the UK they already offer a smart EV rate that automatically charges your car overnight at the cheapest possible rate. But even if you are intent on make your home more energy efficientany potential savings must be weighed against the cost of an installation.
The price of energy efficiency
While changes can be made, Berard says a fresh install of Schneider Home is the best route for most people. This brings us to the point. Exact pricing needs to be decided, but if you want to install the panel, solar inverter, EV charger, battery, switches, and outlets, you’ll pay around $10,000. You also have to hire an electrician to install everything and it’s likely to be disruptive. If you need solar panels, that’s another extra expense. An inspection may need to be arranged to ensure compliance with local laws.
Some of Schneider’s components are still undergoing certification, and there is a program to train interested electricians to become approved installers. Parts of the system are now available; complete systems of Schneider House they are not expected to start in the US until this summer.
This type of installation makes the most sense for new-build homes or older properties in need of a complete update. If you’re planning on remodeling or installing solar panels anyway, Schneider Home might be worth a look. But for people who already have a solar installation or an EV charger, it’s a much tougher sell. In some cases, it will be possible to connect third-party components to the Schneider panel, but you may lose some potential benefits and features of the system.
We can expect to see many more HEMSs entering the market over the next couple of years as renewable energy grows, because better energy management is an opportunity for both utilities and consumers to cut costs, reduce use and improve efficiency. But high initial costs and installation hassle are likely to limit adoption.
It is worth noting that the The Inflation Reduction Act offers tax credits and rebates for people looking to install solar panels, home batteries and smart power panels or buy electric vehicles, which could take some of the sting out of a HEMS investment. Berard suggests you could recoup Schneider Home costs in as little as two years, but he seems overly optimistic, and a lot depends on your household and average energy usage.
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