Written by Jeff St. John
Homes need a lot more digital smarts nowadays to manage rooftop solar, backup batteries and electric vehicle chargers. It’s nice if those distributed energy resources (DERs) can be integrated with household electrical load controls via smartphone or Alexa or Google voice-activated devices.
Then there’s the need to optimize these DERs and loads against utility time-of-use rates, net-metering tariffs and EV charging rate structures. And in worst-case scenarios, homeowners want to keep critical loads powered via battery or backup generator during outages that can last for hours or days at a time.
This mix of future-forward list of home energy control capabilities is increasingly in demand in markets including California, the epicenter of both DER deployment and wildfire-prevention grid outages. And while mass-market home electrical equipment tends to be optimized for low cost and reliability, both startups and global vendors alike are starting to see an opportunity to upsell contractors and homeowners on integrated systems that can take on all of these tasks at once.
The most recent example is Schneider Electric’s latest Square D Energy Center, which is being unveiled at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. Set to be available in mid-2021, it combines the features of what would normally be six or seven separate equipment installations into one electrical service entrance box, integrated via Schneider’s Wiser energy control platform.
This is far from the first entry into “smart home” technology for Schneider Electric, whose Square D electrical distribution equipment brand holds significant market share in the residential and commercial building markets. Wiser has been around for nearly a decade, entering homes both through utility programs and via partnerships with home automation providers like Alarm.com.
But the latest product may be better poised for mass-market adoption than the previous iterations of smart home systems that have largely remained the stuff of CES showrooms and ultra-wealthy homeowner installations for the past decade or more.
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