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Meter Messenger #124 - Smart Switching Distribution Panel
March 15, 2013

Issue #124
March-April 2013

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Table of Contents

Smart Distribution Panels

Smartphone Thermostat Control

Creative Lighting Technology

Ten Energy Saving Tips

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Smart Distribution Panels

Computerized Electricity Systems (CES), based out of Israel, has been developing their CES Smart Distribution Panel (CSDP) for the residential and small to medium commercial markets over the past eight years. The CSDP product integrates smart switching, energy monitoring and circuit breaker protection in a single retrofit panel. Patented algorithms monitor supply, whether it be from the grid or an alternative energy source, monitor and track load by circuit and evaluate applicable tariffs to optimize pricing.

Click here to view a five minute video on this product.

The smart switching module and the algorithms that control it are what make this product so unique. Alternative energy generation from wind and solar can be switched on and off automatically as it is produced. Knowing the applicable tariffs, the algorithms can either use the alternative energy as it is produced or sell it back to the grid.

Demand response can control loads at the circuit level based upon priorities pre-set by the customer or the utility. As time-of-use rates change throughout the day, customer priorities can dictate how loads will be shed to keep demand in check. The smart switching also maintains phase balancing, which is of particular importance on 3-phase circuits.

Energy monitoring tracks loads at the circuit level and can also record alternative energy production so you have the ability to verify credit for power sent back to the grid. Usage can be compiled over days, weeks or months for trend analysis. Real-time alerts notify you when anomalies crop up with-in the electrical system which often lead to quick resolution of maintenance issues.

Other features include grouping of circuits, timer control at the circuit level, over current protection and level I and II electrical vehicle charging.

The CSDP panel is designed to be installed as a retrofit replacing the existing service panel without any major rewiring. A licensed electrician can generally do the work in several hours depending upon the number of circuits.

Click here for more information.



Smartphone Thermostat Control

One of the hottest new apps for smartphones is thermostat control. This feature has been around for a couple of years on high-end energy monitors but is now going mainstream. Large security companies such as alarm.com are bringing the service on board as an added feature to their security packages.

In the electronically connected world in which we live, control of energy costs via smartphones is only natural. Young people, especially, are gravitating toward the new technology as they have grown up in the world of inter-connectivity. As for the rest of us, it just makes good sense to be able to manage one of our largest monthly expenses in a remote, efficient manner.

Remote thermostat sales are up. Devices are beginning to offer features beyond just temperature control. Lighting, limited A/V and humidity controls are some of the latest innovations being touted by thermostat manufacturers such as savantsystems.com.

Basic home automation systems are also becoming more affordable as smart phone and smart pad controls begin to proliferate. Lighting controls are one of the most popular applications as illumination levels and on-off controls can be programmed to meet lifestyles, mood and efficient use of energy. Automated door locks are another popular feature as one can secure every door in their home from any location. Occupancy sensors, web cams and circuit level energy monitoring are also popular features.

So, if you are thinking about adding a little convenience to your life, you don't have to spend thousands of dollars and rewire your entire home. Just put your smartphone to work with some clever apps and a few wireless devices to get started. As you begin to enjoy the benefits and start to lower your energy bills add a few more components. Over time, you'll be surprised how some of these conveniences can help to simplify your life.



Creative Lighting Technology

LED lighting is becoming more and more versatile. With the advent of Power Over Ethernet (POE) LED's, home owners can decorate a room to suit their mood with multi-colored lighting. Soft whites and blues can set the tone for a laid back evening or vibrant reds, greens and oranges can fire the place up when it is time to throw a party.

The low power draw of these colorful LED's allows them to be hooked up using Ethernet Cat-5 cable alone. No other electrical wiring is needed. The LED's act as a series of nodes on the home owner's computer network and can have color and intensity controlled accordingly. This means that lighting can be automated to change with music besides the more conventional dimmer, timer and occupancy sensor controls. nuleds.com

Another interesting lighting product is called the Light Speaker. It is a 10-20 watt LED floodlight with a built-in wireless speaker. If your home was built before low voltage wiring became prevalent, you can now deploy a wireless speaker system to distribute audio without having to rewire. The LightSpeaker an LED light, an amplifier and a speaker and screws into a regular light socket. The unit is designed to fit inside recessed lighting fixtures and has a minimum expected bulb life of 25,000 hours. iavlightspeaker.com

Organic LED lighting is a new technology that can generate light from wafer thin panels. These panels can be suspended in a chandelier and project light upwards and downwards at the same time. The flat panels can also be used to make decorative wall sconces producing a wide, even distribution of light with a very thin profile. waclighting.com

If you are considering a remodeling project or just want to spruce up your home with a little color, you might want to consider these new LED technology products as a long lasting investment in energy efficient design.



Ten Energy Saving Tips

1. As you close up the fireplace for the season consider installing a chimney balloon. It is simply an inflatable plastic bubble that installs in your chimney just above the damper creating an air tight seal all summer long. Just don't forget to deflate and remove it before starting your first fire in the Fall. Google "chimney balloon" for sources.

2. Be sure to change out return air filters as we move from the heating to the air conditioning season. A clean filter circulates air more freely reducing compressor and recirculating fan run times.

3. With warmer weather just around the corner it is a good time to get a checkup on your HVAC system. Your local contractor can check refrigerant levels and make sure all mechanical parts are in proper order for the upcoming cooling season. If refrigerant is low or you have a tiny leak the compressor will run longer hours this summer costing you kilowatt-hours.

4. Here's a quick rule of thumb for sizing a cooling system for a home. Plan to install one ton (12,000 Btu) of cooling for every 500 square feet of living space. Add 10% for sunny rooms and 50% for the area of the kitchen. Your HVAC contractor will make the final determination but this will get you in the ballpark.

5. Consider installing solar lighting along your sidewalk or beside pathways in your yard. Low voltage solar lights are easy to install, safe and require no energy from the grid to operate.

6. If you live in a moderate to warm climate, say south of Interstate 40 in the US, look for low solar heat gain coefficient (SHGC) windows when buying replacements or building a new home. In cooler climates look for double pane windows with a low-e coating on the glass to reflect heat back into the room. Lower U-ratings indicate better insulation potential for windows in cooler climates.

7. If you don't have drapes to pull over your south and west facing windows during the upcoming warmer months, try installing a reflective film to reduce solar heat gain.

8. Thermostat set points cost money. For every degree you lower your thermostat below 78 degrees, cooling costs go up 3 to 5 percent. The same is true in winter for heating costs above 68 degrees.

9. Whenever you take a vacation for more than three days shut off the breaker to your hot water heater and shut off the water to your house. It takes more energy to keep 40 gallons of water warm for four days than it does to reheat it. Shutting off water can save a hardwood floor or carpet if the plastic water line to the refrigerator ice maker happens to rupture while you are away.

10. Remember, there are only three ways you can reduce your energy consumption:
a. Conserve by shutting things off, adjusting thermostats or installing dimmers.
b. Become more efficient by using devices that consume less energy to get the job done.
c. Install alternative energy generation sources such as solar PV, wind or micro-hydro.



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