Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Sonnen launches all-in-one renewable, home automation tech

William Payne
September 19, 2018

Smart residential energy storage specialist sonnen has launched an energy automation product that brings together home automation, residential solar, and energy storage in a single energy ecosystem that enables intelligent load controllers to manage and optimise energy usage, secure smart homes against grid outages and help stabilise the existing power grid. 

According to sonnen, this convergence of technology will create new value for both the homeowner and the broader electricity grid infrastructure.

sonnen's ecoLinx system is designed to address 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's ecoLinx energy storage system incorporates smart, configurable backup power and intelligent home automation demand control – facilitated by energy storage and solar.

The ecoLinx system is designed to work in unison with intelligent circuit breakers to provide multiple backup power options in the event of an outage, eliminating inflexible and expensive protected loads panel. 

Intelligent demand control – the coordination of solar, energy storage and intelligent load controllers throughout the home -- is also incorporated into ecoLinx, according to sonnen.

The sonnen ecoLinx features the Fortelion battery module, a Lithium Ion Iron Phosphate cell. The all-in-one system is scalable in size, from 10kWh to 20kWh of storage capacity. 

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 1am – 4am 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 12pm-3pm, instead of trying to cool the home during peak times. Finally, during the high carbon footprint, expensive peak period of 5pm-9pm when the grid is stressed, smart devices in the home are activated to minimise 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.

"I am so proud that sonnen is transforming the vision of energy automation into a reality," said Blake Richetta, sonnen's Senior Vice President and Head of the U.S. Subsidiary – formerly of Lutron Electronics and Tesla. "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 – and 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," said 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."