Control & Automation

Sonnen ecoLinx Melds Solar Power, Battery Storage with Smart Home

Sonnen debuts its ecoLinx energy management system at CEDIA Expo 2018, calling the category 'previously ignored and industry disrupting.'

Sonnen ecoLinx Melds Solar Power, Battery Storage with Smart Home
Aimed at affluent clients, the Sonnen ecoLinx smart energy management system brings together home automation, residential solar, and energy storage in an energy ecosystem that enables intelligent load controllers to manage energy usage, secure smart homes against grid outages and help stabilize the existing power grid.

Jason Knott · September 5, 2018

Calling it "industry-disrupting" technology, Sonnen (booth #513) has announced the official launch of its ecoLinx energy automation system at CEDIA Expo 2018.

The all-in-one ecoLinx smart energy management system brings together home automation, residential solar, and energy storage in an energy ecosystem that enables intelligent load controllers to effectively manage energy usage, secure smart homes against grid outages and help stabilize the existing power grid.

According to the company, this "convergence of technology will unlock previously ignored value for both the homeowner and the greater electricity grid infrastructure, while bringing home automation to the fight for a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable future."

Sonnen ecoLinx Merges Energy Storage, Solar Power with Smart Home

One of the fundamental challenges in achieving renewable energy automation is the disconnect between a home automation system’s ability to intelligently manage energy usage and the lack of intelligent software needed to maintain connectivity and efficiency.

Sonnen says its ecoLinx energy storage system bridges this gap, demonstrating the use of smart, configurable backup power and intelligent home automation demand control – facilitated by energy storage and solar.

Smart configurable backup power involves an energy storage system working in unison with intelligent circuit breakers to provide multiple backup power options in the event of an outage, eliminating the inflexible and expensive protected loads panel.

The system even has the potential to earn RMR for integrators through the creation of "virtual power plants."

The unit, which is aimed at CE pros' affluent clientele, also offers intelligent demand control, or the coordination of solar, energy storage and intelligent load controllers throughout the home.

Energy automation with ecoLinx includes:

  • Smart, dynamic weather forecasting to alert homeowners before a potential power outage occurs to prompt them to create a backup plan. For example, a home’s Control4 system might assess an extreme weather forecast for the next few days and request that the home cease daily cycling of its battery into the home’s loads and instead, raise the backup power reservation on the Sonnen ecoLinx to 100 percent, in preparation for a potential power outage.

  • Smart, configurable backup power that provides owners the option to select how long stored power will last in an outage. As a result of the collaboration between energy storage and applications from partners like Eaton intelligent circuit breakers, Sonnen's new energy automation software knows how much power each circuit requires to run devices and how much energy per hour each circuit will consume. The system also knows how much solar production is being generated and managed by the Sonnen ecoLinx and how much stored energy remains in the battery. With this information, ecoLinx’s software applications are able to present homeowners with several backup plans to prioritize energy flow to devices based on need.

  • Intelligent demand control and load shaping that automatically manages the use of clean, stored energy to avoid peak utility rates and power the home in a clean and efficient way without disrupting the homeowner. By integrating with smart devices within the home, such as Crestron thermostats and Lutron lighting systems, ecoLinx is capable of taking advantage of inexpensive and low carbon footprint off-peak hours to power devices as well as storing self-produced energy to be used during dirty and expensive peak periods, such as morning and evening hours.

How Does It Work?

Throughout the day, ecoLinx ensures that a home’s solar production is either self-consumed by the greater AC load or it charges the battery as a solar time shift for use later.

As an example, California homeowners who drive an electric vehicle (EV) are able to enroll in PG&E’s EV time-of-use rate, including a significant swing from off-peak to peak power prices.

The ecoLinx software is able to charge from the grid from 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. along with the EV, paying low off-peak rates for power that is abundant and considerably cleaner than during peak periods. \

Another load shift occurs when a Crestron thermostat automatically pre-cools the home during the relatively inexpensive and low carbon footprint, partial peak hours of 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., instead of trying to cool the home during peak times.

Finally, during the high carbon footprint, expensive peak period of 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. when the grid is stressed, smart devices in the home are activated to minimize energy usage while maintaining homeowner comfort—the Crestron thermostat bumps up a few degrees in the pre-cooled home while Lutron lighting dims slightly and Lutron shades lower to prevent the need for increased energy to power AC loads.

The sonnen ecoLinx discharges its stored off-peak power and locally-generated stored sunlight, to meet the majority of the home’s load during this expensive, dirty peak time, rendering the home invisible to the grid, while saving money.

Sonnen Partners with PanTech, Cinegration to Create Drivers

Sonnen partnered with PanTech Design and Cinegration to develop the ultra-smart, flexible, user-friendly control system architecture required to bring home automation systems into the energy automation application.

Sonnen also partnered with power management company Eaton to incorporate intelligent circuit breakers with cloud-based connectivity for efficient load-monitoring and remote communication. Eaton’s intelligent breakers help enable smart energy management across the home’s many connected devices.

"To me, the winning ticket is the evolving energy space, which is starving for intelligent programmers and solution-providers."
— Blake Richetta, Sonnen

“I am so proud that Sonnen is transforming the vision of energy automation into a reality with the revolutionary ecoLinx,” says Blake Richetta, Sonnen's senior vice president and head of Sonnen's U.S. Subsidiary.

“Having spent time working at both Lutron and Tesla Energy prior to Sonnen, from my perspective, the energy industry has been tinkering around with quasi-home automation and smart home products that cannot truly provide the performance required of a grid-level solution for years and conversely the home automation industry needs a new category that ensures fifty-years of growth for the integrator trade, instead of five," Richetta continues. 

"To me, the winning ticket is the evolving energy space, which is starving for intelligent programmers and solution-providers to help build the grid of the future, with the smart home.”

“Our industry designs and installs true marvels of electronic integration for our residential clients,” says Gordon van Zuiden, founder of cyberManor and former CEDIA board member.

“For the first time ever, with ecoLinx, home automation integrators finally have the tools to enhance the living environment of our client’s homes and help protect the environment in which we all live.

In addition, the Sonnen ecoLinx features a 15-year system warranty, and comes standard with lithium iron phosphate batteries. The all-in-one system is also scalable in size, from 10kWh to 20kWh of storage capacity and is sold exclusively through Sonnen's network of partners and integrators who are certified to design the best storage solution for each home’s unique energy needs.



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  About the Author

Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at jknott@ehpub.com

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  Article Topics


Control & Automation · Automation · Networking & Cables · Power Protection · Events · CEDIA · News · Energy Management · Energy Monitoring · Power Management · Smart Grid · Sonnen · All Topics
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