Smart Plus Solar Equals Total Control
The Arc House demonstrates ways to integrate renewable energy with connected technology.
SMART HOME TECHNOLOGY Smart home technology and solar technology provide complementary benefits: reduced energy use, improved efficiency, and greater comfort and control by homeowners. The Arc House demonstrates how these technologies can fully integrate to create an intelligent, efficient home—one that automatically adjusts to optimize energy use and comfort, and provides feedback to occupants that encourages them to change their behavior.
These technologies are trending toward wider adoption. Here’s a look at the home’s thermostat, solar array and energy management systems.
The Sensi Wi-Fi programmable thermostat is compatible with nearly all HVAC systems and can be installed in advance, before the Wi-Fi connection is set up.
Smart thermostats have been around for several years, but 2015 saw a surge in interest in the technology. And according to a report published by IoT Analytics in March 2016, the global market for smart thermostats will grow by 35 percent annually over the next six years.
Many of the more-popular smart thermostats include intuitive controls and a user-friendly interface. The Sensi Wi-Fi programmable thermostat from Emerson offers the flexibility of programming a different heating or cooling schedule for every day of the week, as well as the ability to easily turn the thermostat setting up or down from a smartphone.
The free mobile app also allows the user to control a thermostat from anywhere, and to control more than one thermostat in more than one location.
Contractors also like the Sensi thermostat, as it is compatible with most HVAC systems and can be installed before the Wi-Fi connection is available. The thermostat does not require a common wire (c-wire) for most electric and gas units.
Solar Plus Storage
Elements of the SMA Smart Home include an app that provides information about energy used, energy generated and remaining battery power.
The Arc House’s renewable energy concept system includes a solar PV array from JinkoSolar, a high-voltage storage battery, and inverters and energy management from SMA America. The 2.6-kW solar PV array powers The Arc House and charges the storage battery during the day; at night, the home draws on stored energy from the battery. The system can operate on or off grid.
A residential solar system that includes battery storage demonstrates the next development in residential renewable energy. Such systems enable greater control over how and when energy is produced and consumed. Current grid-tied systems must rely on the electricity grid when solar energy cannot be immediately produced and don’t offer much in the way of added value.
Directing Solar Energy
Energy management is key to maximizing “self-consumption”—using as much of the energy generated by a solar array in the home as possible. In The Arc House, the technology from SMA America ensures that the energy generated from the PV array is used in the most efficient way. The system can “decide” whether to send excess solar-generated energy to the electricity grid or to the battery, based on energy production and use predictions. These, in turn, are based on weather forecasts and past usage data. The system can also work with connected appliances, timing their use and ensuring that they draw on solar power, not the electricity grid, during times of high demand.
Automatic load control ensures the most efficient use of solar power and optimizes energy use so that the home doesn’t draw from the grid when rates are high. This eases the burden on the grid and reduces demand charges in regions where utilities employ a tiered structure.
The SMA Smart Home allows occupants to better manage their energy. Through the Sunny Portal app, residents can access detailed information about their home’s energy use, the energy generated from the solar array and battery storage levels. The technology also provides recommended actions, so occupants can make deliberate decisions that optimize energy use.
Made for the Shade
As seen on the Arc House, Parasoleil has developed a unique line of architectural metal panels to filter and sculpt light that are not only engineered to withstand the elements, but are profoundly artistic. They can be used to shade special architectural places and offer patterned nuance to structural detail or create visual breaks, barriers, and privacy.
A Cutting-Edge Renewable Energy System
The Arc House’s renewable energy system demonstrates the next step in residential renewable energy: combining an efficient solar PV array with the ability to store solar energy generated during the day, and to manage that energy to benefit the home’s occupants and the electricity grid.
- 2.6-kW solar PV array. The Eagle Black modules from JinkoSolar are among the most efficient on the market.
- Optimizers. SMA’s module-level power electronics ensure that modules affected by shading still perform optimally. With module-integrated and retrofit options, this solution allows for a unique selective deployment strategy that cuts cost and speeds installation.
- Sunny Boy Storage battery inverter. Ideally suited for integration with leading high-voltage battery manufacturers, this inverter combines the flexibility of the AC coupling with the advantages of high-voltage technology, enabling a significant reduction in system and installation costs.
- Sunny Boy PV inverter. Unique to SMA, the Sunny Boy US series of inverters come with secure power supply as a standard feature, offering 2,000 watts of opportunity power when the grid goes down.
- High-voltage battery. This component allows energy generated by the solar PV array to be stored for use after the sun goes down. The Sunny Boy Storage inverter is compatible with several leading high-voltage battery manufacturers.