Search CE Pro

Print  |  Email  |  Share  |  News  |  Follow on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or RSS

Visit Home Depot
Datacomm News and Information

Solar-Powered Smart Home Tests Energy Storage

Los Alamos, N.M. project demonstrates solar storage and smart grid systems.

How can “smart” homes use and store solar energy from their own rooftops and from a nearby solar power plant?

Answers to that question are being explored in the next two years in Los Alamos, N.M., where the Los Alamos County Department of Public Utilities (DPU) is partnering with Japan’s New Energy and Industrial Technology and Development Organization (NEDO) and Japanese companies Kyocera, Sharp, NEC and Toshiba, to test smart home and smart grid systems.

A 2-megawatt solar power plant will energize about 2,000 residential sites in the high-desert community of Los Alamos. The photovoltaic system, with its 8.3-megawatt hour battery storage system, will demonstrate the ability to stabilize solar power output by reducing peak system demand as it draws electricity from the battery system at times of peak usage.

We’ll see more of smart grid-based energy storage systems that can deliver solar-generated electricity at night when the sun is longer shining and help smooth out power distribution, as having a spike in renewable energy-produced power, with its moment-to-moment power production and distribution, can wreak havoc on the grid.

To that effect, NEC is testing a transfer cut-out system that disconnects distributed energy resources from the power grid in the case of a power outage or accident and a modem unit that transfers smart meter data via high-speed powerline communications (PLC).

Smart House Demo
The 2,991-square-foot, one-story demonstration Smart House features a Kyocera hybrid home energy management system (HEMS) that uses a 16-module, 3.4-kW residential solar power generating system, a 24-kWh lithium-ion storage battery and an energy-efficient heat storage unit. The Home Energy Management System (HEMS) is equipped with communication equipment and sensors to help the Smart House optimize energy usage between the solar power generating system, storage battery, power grid and smart appliances and be responsive to smart grid signals.

Click image to enlarge

Kyocera also appears to be experimenting with prototype lithium-ion batteries re-used from EV (electric vehicle) applications.

A Sharp 60-inch Quattron TV, air conditioning system, LED ceiling lights and 20-cubic-foot refrigerator can be controlled and monitored wirelessly via ZigBee technology.

Toshiba will be testing smart meter and in-home displays.

NEDO has invested $37 million in the $52 million Los Alamos smart grid project. At the end of the demonstration period (two years from now), NEDO will give to Los Alamos all of the facilities at no charge and Los Alamos will be the owner of 1 megawatt of photovoltaics, 8.2 megawatt-hour battery storage system; all the smart equipment in the Smart House, and all the equipment to operate the microgrid.

Behind every successful custom installation is a CE Pro

And CEPro magazine is there keeping you up-to-date on the latest products, techniques, designs and business practices. From HDBaseT 2.0 to cat5e wiring, from UHDTV to wireless lighting control, CEPro explains how they work and how best to use them. Each issue delivers constructive, real-time content to help you find innovative ways to successfully build and maintain your business.
Discover how to make smart use of today's current technologies...and those that are emerging...subscribe today!

Subscribe to the CE Pro Newsletter

Article Topics

News · Home Automation and Control · Energy Management · Datacomm · Solar · All topics

About the Author

Steven Castle
Steven Castle is a writer, editor, and humorist who recently completed Filthy Rich Things, a savage satire on our thirst for success and wealth. He is Electronic House's senior editor and co-founder of GreenTech Advocates.

5 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Derek Cowburn  on  01/25  at  11:45 AM

That was the topic of my presentation.  LumenCache does this at the residential level but eliminates the outdated AC microgrid and all the complexities of AC/DC conversions.  Glad to see this is gaining wings.  The 300+ interested dealers see it, will just take a few great profile projects like this to help it go mainstream.

Posted by bobrapoport  on  01/25  at  12:08 PM

Great story! Extreme weather events the last two years have caused millions of Americans to lose power, making them evacuate their homes.

I’ve designed and am now selling something similar called NewPower, 

I use 4.5 kW solar power, 8000 watt Line-Interactive UPS battery back-up for seamless power to the homes essential circuits during a grid failure, and 8000 watt stand-by generator to keep the battery system charged when it runs down.

The system qualifies for a 30% federal income tax credit and local power company rebates that can lower the cost by 50% or more. 

Using only the best in class parts, its a complete system, turnkey ready for installation.  We make going solar simple.

Posted by Jason Knott  on  01/25  at  12:56 PM

As Electric Vehicles become more common, what’s missing is a way to send DC electricity directly from the PV panels to the EV charging station in the garage without the wasteful conversion to AC power (via the home inverter) and then back again to DC power for the car battery. 

Bob and Derek—Are the systems you are describing solve that?

Posted by bobrapoport  on  01/25  at  01:15 PM

Hi Jason,
The challenge is that the auto manufacturers are designing the cars to be charged from AC only. The built in charge control is not set up for a DC input. The battery banks in the cars are uniquely different from a standard lead acid battery bank so that we cannot just assume that a solar charge controller that will do a good job of charging them correctly (they won’t).
Also, the user will want a fast charge option, which is really only possible with either grid power, or a large battery bank running through a big inverter like the NewPower System.
I’m surprised by the question Jason, after the extreme weather events of the past 24 months, people need “perpetual” power for their most essential circuits so they dont have to evacuate. I focused on that with NewPower, the CI channel should be selling these systems now, the traditional solar resellers are unable to penetrate the market, only 2% penetration of solar in the USA thus far through them. Makes you wonder why.

Posted by Derek Cowburn  on  01/25  at  10:21 PM

LumenCache is for all the electronics and lighting but not made for high current like EV charging.  That would be excellent to use the EV battery as the storage buffer.  When your car is home, you typucally are.  If a storm or 4pm peak wipes out utility power your car battery could backfeed the house so fridge, lights, internet, TVs, and maybe some HVAC can operate.  LC platform allows load sheding so when operating in emergency mode it could turn off non-essentials.  Behaviors adjust how that responds.

Battery systems like Bobs are great for bigger load devices so between the two we have all the bases covered.

Page 1 of 1 comment pages
Post a comment
Commenting is not available in this weblog entry.

Sponsored Links

  About Us Customer Service Privacy Policy Contact Us Advertise With Us Dealer Services Subscribe Reprints ©2015 CE Pro
  EH Network: Electronic House CE Ideas Store Commercial Integrator ChannelPro ProSoundWeb Church Production Worship Facilities Electronic House Expo Worship Facilities Expo