It may sound like sci-fi, but in the world we now live in, coffee machines can coordinate with alarm clocks and thermostats can sync with our smartphones to perfectly cool or warm our houses while we’re on the way home.
Today, our electronic household appliances are increasingly connected through the Internet of Things (IoT), with more and more of our gadgets able to share information with each other and be controlled remotely through smartphones and tablets. The future is here and it’s made it possible to streamline the daily functions of our homes and our energy usage.
Managing energy usage
It’s no surprise that if you want to cut down on electricity from the grid to lower emissions and bills, it beings with understanding and controlling where and when you use our energy. IoT now makes it possible to fine-tune our usage.
There are numerous tools to track and adjust electricity consumption throughout your home. Software for smart, connected homes can help save money by alerting you to unexpected electricity spikes and identify the cause and solution. For instance, an ageing dryer could be using more energy to run than a younger model, and leaving TVs and laptops on standby could be wasting significant amounts of energy.
Getting value from solar
For solar panel owners, managing energy effectively is perhaps even more important. In Australia, solar power can now provide a cheaper source of electricity than the grid. But, as solar panels create most of their power during the day when homeowners aren’t typically around to use, surplus solar energy must either be stored in a battery or sold to the grid only to be bought back again after nightfall.
Batteries are a good example of a smarter way to use solar and get more out of what you generate. Recent leaps and bounds in technology are lowering the cost of batteries and making them an increasingly viable option for many people. Adding storage to a system lets you save energy for later, reducing reliance on the grid at peak times and saving you money on your energy bill. The introduction of smart meters has made this adjustment of bills possible, as it’s now easy to track how much energy is being imported or exported by each household from and to the grid.
Smart meters have also enabled an exciting new way of buying and selling solar energy to emerge: peer-to-peer energy trading. Peer-to-peer energy trading is when consumers buy, sell or swap excess solar electricity directly with their local friends and neighbours rather than with the grid. Each participating household connects their smart meter to a data system that finds customers at appropriate intervals and joins them, logging traded energy, and registering a fee for its sale and transportation. 2016 saw peer-to-peer trading arrive in Australia with the introduction of innovative, although limited for now, schemes.
Along with a host of new apps that help you to make decisions on solar panels, such as sunshine calculators and panel trackers, there are also apps that let you monitor and direct your solar usage remotely and in real-time.
An app managed solar system
Redback Technologies’ second-generation Smart Solar Hybrid Inverter is one such system that makes it possible to manage your solar energy via your smartphone or tablet.
The Smart Hybrid Solar Inverter combines a solar inverter, a battery inverter, and cloud-based energy management software in one unit. Its smart energy management algorithms ensure you maximise the use of solar energy within your home. The system can either do this automatically or it can let you choose where the energy is directed, whether that’s to connected home appliances, to a battery, or back to the grid.
The system is controlled through an internet-enabled interface that can be managed through an app, meaning that you don’t have to be at home to control your household energy.
Best of all, Redback’s software has been designed to be easily and remotely updated, meaning your system will get better over time as new features are rolled out.