"It took almost a year to become comfortable with pulling this together and making it fly. Even now, I am still learning more, and we are seeing more changes in the system.
For the designer, you have to go into far more detail than on any conventional project. You have to calculate and document every single fixture. Generics do not work; you have to be very specific. That is a lot of data. How many units do I need to store enough power to maintain a percentage of these devices for a period of time? How many things am I trying to run for how long in the occurrence of a power failure? There are a lot of moving parts.”
How did you pitch this to your client, and how did they react?
“That was a hard part. Finding sonnen was a journey. We are so comfortable with what you guys produce for a myriad of reasons, and we are extremely comfortable with the road we didn’t take. We don’t look back.
There are two parts to the solution: the harvesting of the energy from the sun and the storage of the energy. That’s where we came to a problem in presenting it to a client.
Your team provided a very clear comparison between a generator and battery storage, as well as the environmental impact and noise discharge of both, in terms that I could understand, and therefore present to my client for consideration."
Our energy storage solutions can work with or without a generator, and as Robert noted, there are some key differences between ecoLinx and a generator:
- Designed to last 20+ years with no maintenance required.
- Less noise (70 dBA MAX)
- Superior power quality (60Hz) and performance
- Backup power available immediately (<100ms)
- Dynamically powers loads, with Adapt Energy Panels, allowing homeowners to stretch battery life based on the length of the power outage
- Eco-friendly, 100% recyclable system
“You must ask the client: ‘What do you want to happen [with regard to an outage]?’ (necessities maintained i.e. selected specialty lighting, refrigeration, heating, etc.). sonnen helped educate us, the architects and designers, as to why the batteries were a better solution than what we were originally looking at. You guys educated us well, which allows us to educate our customers and say, ‘This is why this is what your best option based on what you are looking for.”
If you have a homeowner interested in renewable energy, or an energy storage system, we highly recommend that you begin your design with an understanding what the homeowner is looking to accomplish. Do they simply want a battery backup solution over a generator? Do they want to harvest solar production and use that energy later? Do they want to automate load shedding and power outage preparations?
When you understand the intent and what is most important to the client, you can get a better understanding of what information is required properly size the capacity of the system to meet the needs of the loads. To support your efforts, sonnen Applications Engineering team, based out of our Tucker, Georgia US headquarters, is available to assist with design consulting to help you deliver on customer expectations.
What made you take the solution to another level with energy automation utilizing the Adapt Energy Panel?
“We’ve always been very comfortable with gas generators because they are very predictable. The downside is that they require a fuel source, they’re noisy, and there is a ton of discharge.
The severity of a storm determines how much we have to prepare. Adapt (smart weather forecasting) is going to hyper-prepare for events. Adapt will set up the difference between a three-hour operating window versus a ten-hour operating window (dependent upon the projected severity of the weather event) without the owner having to prepare.”
Energy automation is the combination of intelligent energy storage, leading automation platforms, and other green technologies all working effortlessly to create the ability to control your energy consumption. Smart weather forecasting is when a weather event is in the local area, and a grid outage may occur, the automation platform will detect and automatically alert the homeowner, which will activate the ecoLinx to automatically begin charging the battery to increase the backup power reserve. The automation platform can make critical adjustments (e.g. setting the thermostat, lowering shades, closing storm shutters) to make the home comfortable in preparation for a power outage. The Adapt Energy Panel allows the customer can choose an essential energy profile, if the power outage is expected to be for an extended period of time, to preserve battery life. If the power outage is expected to be shorter, the customer can choose a comfort energy profile, where most circuits remain online. This can happen automatically, or with the customer selecting the energy profile appropriate for their circumstance.
What hurdles did you have to overcome on this project, if any, and how did you overcome them?
“Speaking to us as if we are engineers is the problem. Your side is remarkably technical. We weren’t prepared for the level of detail necessary to build the system. I think the average bear does not get it. For the average bear, they need to learn how to compare your technology, which is very advanced, versus the norm, the norm being typical grid-sourced power for an individual who may or may not have a generator. The level of detail and communication, between us, the storage, and PV, was a real challenge. I know I am going to specify sonnen next time, but I don’t know what PV system I will specify.
How much room do you have to work in? That’s another one. Where are you putting this thing? The sonnen product has got an amazing operating range in terms of temperature. That gave me a lot of latitude on where to put it. But they are big, and they got to have room around them."