What is energy automation?
Energy automation is the convergence of home automation and energy management, specifically enabling intelligent energy storage to manage how smart homes are powered including the addition of clean energy. The ecoLinx “energy ecosystem” augments Control4 systems by integrating them with residential solar and energy storage, bringing clean tech to smart homes and enabling the ecoLinx to manage how energy is consumed and devices are powered throughout the home.
The operation of a smart home can be significantly enhanced by properly controlling how homes use energy. Traditional use cases center the home automation experience on providing the ultimate comfort and convenience to the homeowner by tailoring each system to their specific needs and wants. Smart homes, with energy automation, take this experience to another level by managing the energy consumption of the home without requiring the owner to plan or react to changes in energy availability, e.g., power outages or peak times of day.
How to build an Energy Automation using Control4
The ultimate, clean energy smart home is driven by energy automation. To reap the benefits of energy automation, it is important that the ecoLinx “energy ecosystem” include a combination of the following home automation and clean energy energy devices:
- sonnen ecoLinx This is your intelligent energy storage system that manages all controllability use cases related to dynamic energy changes.
- Control4 System using EA class or better technology.
- Control4 T3 Touchscreens for communication with ecoLinx dashboard.
- Control4 sonnen ecoLinx driver The ultra-smart, flexible, user-friendly control system architecture that integrates with ecoLinx and Control4 systems to provide energy automation, developed in partnership with Cinegration.
- Renewable Energy Source (Typically PV system): On-site alternative source of energy to offset potential loss of grid power and provide access to clean energy.
- Controllable lights: Allows for the management of lights accordingly during power-relevant events (using devices such as Lutron or Control4 dimmers).
- Controllable shades: Allows for the management of scenes that could benefit from reducing the exposure to natural light.
- Controllable thermostats: Efficient link to HVAC systems without the need of complicated control schemes which ties in well with the management of comfort levels during power-relevant events.
- Eaton's intelligent circuit breaker (Energy Management Circuit Breaker, or EMCB): Provide cloud-based connectivity for efficient load-monitoring and remote communication and smart energy management across the home’s many connected devices. This integration requires an Eaton driver, which was developed by Cinegration.
- Power control devices like WattBox or Luxul PDU devices (controlled by the Cinegration Power Agent Driver).
- AV Systems: Allows for Enunciation and Notification of such power-relevant events in a seamless fully integrated solution
The use cases for energy automation
Smart Configurable Backup
Users with the ecoLinx, Eaton EMCB or Power devices like WattBox and a Control4 automation system can benefit from the smart configurable backup functionality that provides optimal control over their home automation system. Using smart power devices like EMCB breakers allows dealers to configure the home for optimal battery strategies for each homeowner. This allows the ecoLinx to not only focus on managing excess energy production over what is consumed but further tailor the consumption based on need and priority defined by the homeowner. In the event of a power outage, the ecoLinx will provide backup power to the energized circuits. The decision as to which circuits get energized is based on the SoC of the ecoLinx and can be a part of predefined profiles set by the user’s home automation dealer. An example scenario is presented below:
- A power outage occurs and the ecoLinx begins providing backup power to the main panel (which is also feeding the home network equipment).
- The Control4 driver determines the amount of energy left on the battery based on current consumption then activates the customized backup profile for this event.
- Smart Configurable Backup. Intended for normal power outages keeping common use and essential loads and devices on
- Smart Configurable Backup Extended. Activated when battery reserves are below 20% and is intended to power only the essential devices in home
- The driver will then configure home based on profile selected and continue to monitor power usage.
Dealers also can configure home actions when power is restored, thereby returning devices back on and life back to normal.
Smart Weather Forecasting
The sonnen ecoLinx Control4 driver also uses weather forecast data to dynamically modify the ecoLinx’s backup reserve setting. For example, if the energy automation system detects a severe thunderstorm warning in the user’s area, the system will automatically increase the ecoLinx unit’s energy reserve percentage 100% to prepare the user for the incoming storm and potential loss of grid power.
This further enhances the level of flexibility as it then can reserve the battery capacity for backup when it is really needed. In a static configuration this can lead to losing the optimization range when the likelihood of a power outage is very low.
This is currently only available for US based customers.
Smart Demand Control and Load Management
Control4 dealers can customize load shedding and load shifting principles via Composer programming actions. What this means is that the ecoLinx works with the home automation system to decrease load usage and discharge the battery when appropriate.
Let’s say a customer wants to employ their ecoLinx in daily cycling during their peak time-of-use (TOU) window to effectively “flood the peak”. In a TOU scenario, the energy automation system employs load shedding to maximize the amount of energy the ecoLinx provides during the peak period. If, for example, the energy automation system lowered the shades, dimmed the lights, increased the thermostat by 1-2 degrees, and turned off non-essential loads that could decrease consumption by say 2,000W. On a 10 kWh ecoLinx, that is an additional 2 hours’ worth of energy that can be used to “flood the peak” instead of contributing to the peak.
Most importantly, 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.
The future of energy automation
With the smart demand control and load management capabilities now available to Control4 systems, the natural extension of this feature would be to allow for utility demand response program integration. Thus, providing ecoLinx owners and utilities benefits from programs in place to utilize the ecoLinx’s dynamic clean energy capacity that would be dispatchable on demand.
As the energy and home automation ecosystems expand the ecoLinx will remain the link that allows for the application of other use cases the can leverage further management of loads for the better optimization of the operation of a smart home.
- See battery state from any Control4 MyHome interface
- Launch sonnen Dashboard via T3 touchscreens
- Multiple Event and Conditional abilities to create custom scenes and macros for homeowners
Control4 Programming Features:
- State changes to profiles
- When AC Frequency, Voltage changes
- When Battery Voltage Changes
- When Battery Level changes
- When Grid Offline/Online
- When generating PV (solar) energy.
- Composer Variables
- AC_Frequency (number)
- AC_Voltage (number)
- Battery_Level (number) %
- Battery_Voltage (number)
- House_Consumption_Watts (number) -> amount of energy being consumed right now by the home
- PV_Consumption_Watts (number) -> amount of energy being produced right now by the solar array
- Battery Level (High, Medium, Low)
- Grid Power Connected (Online = grid power on)
- Generating Solar (is/is not)
- Battery Charging (is/is not)
- Active Profile (Time of Use, Self Consumption, etc...)
|ecoLinx Offline||Time of Use||Self Consumption||Utility Demand Response|
|Smart Configurable Backup||Smart Configurable Backup Extended||Weather Alert|
Contacts for additional information and assistance:
ecoLinx Sizing and System Design - sonnen
sonnen Applications Engineering Team
For more information on Eaton EMCBs:
General information: https://eaton.com/emcb