Smart Home with Solar Electricity

This post was originally published in 2012. The tips and techniques explained may be outdated.

It is an unprecedented success story – in only a few short years renewable energy sources have become an affordable and reliable source of clean electricity. According to preliminary numbers from the German Association of Energy and Water Industries, in the record month of May, for the first time Germany’s PV plants produced more than four billion kilowatt hours of CO2-neutral electricity.  This almost equals the annual consumption of 900,000 average German households and represents an increase of approximately 40 percent over May of the previous year. In the context of sinking feed-in compensation and the discussion about grid relief and self-consumption the question becomes: How can we best use this electricity?

 

Self-consumption Makes Sense

The sun shines, and the rooftop PV plant produces clean electricity. Wouldn’t it make sense to use this electricity here and now in order to do the washing or clean the dishes?

Self-consumption of solar electricity creates independence and relieves the power distribution grids.

It would make sense – for a number of reasons: With self-consumption of solar electricity, plant operators have increased independence from energy suppliers and thus from potentially rising energy prices. Moreover, the self-produced energy is used more efficiently since no losses in transit arise. And finally, electricity consumed directly where it is generated also reduces grid loads, thereby avoiding grid expansion. Thus, as high a proportion of self-consumption as possible as a result of skillful energy management is the key to a decentralized energy supply from renewable sources.

 

Energy Management System Components

Successful energy management that makes sense in the “Smart Home” is based on three successive steps:
1) comprehensive analysis, forecasting and information, 2) automatic load controls and 3) the intermediate storage of energy. In short, the first step involves understanding the energetic circumstances so that they can be actively adapted in the second step, before being optimized in the third step. The most important components of the SMA Smart Home concept are the Sunny Home Manager, location-specific production forecasts via the Sunny Portal, and the flexible Sunny Backup system, which allows the intermediate storage of solar electricity while at the same time providing an electricity supply with grid-quality reliability. Furthermore, with the Sunny Boy 5000 Smart Energy SMA is developing a wall-mounted PV inverter with integrated battery – the first high-volume unit of this type.

 

How Does the Smart Home Function?

Intelligent energy management in the SMA Smart Home

Using existing and planned product solutions from SMA, the following system architecture results: The Sunny Home Manager is the central controller in the SMA Smart Home. It is connected through a communications system to the PV inverter Sunny Boy 5000 Smart Energy and to household appliances, whose use can be scheduled flexibly. Based on the production and consumption forecast, current output and the desires of the user, the Sunny Home Manager controls household appliances so that they use self-produced power whenever possible. It also controls the Sunny Boy 5000 Smart Energy, which can store some or all of the excess power produced in its integrated battery and thus limit feed-in. The stored current is available again as needed, such as in the evenings or at night, which further increases self-consumption. The Sunny Home Manager also creates optimized “timetables”, both for appliances and for the battery system. The Sunny Home Manager can be used via any online Internet browser and can be accessed on a PC or smartphone, whether at home or on the move.

 

Storage Included: The Sunny Boy 5000 Smart Energy

While increased self-consumption stagnates with larger storage capacity, the level of battery use is steadily decreasing. If a backup function is not needed, a smaller storage system is thus the more cost-effective choice.

Whereas larger storage systems can only be used to the fullest on days with a high yield, the only two kilowatt hour storage system of the Sunny Boy 5000 Smart Energy charges relatively quickly and increases the rate of self-consumption almost all year round by up to 50 percent*. The available charge/discharge cycles of the lithium-ion battery are used optimally, which reduces the specific storage costs. SMA introduced the device for the first time at this year’s Intersolar. It should be available in 2013.

* at an annual consumption of 4 900 kWh and 5 kWp power generation capacity

 

 

Intelligent Energy Management for the Electricity Supply of the Future

Load-oriented, grid-connected storage as part of Smart Homes is an important component of the energy transition: In Germany, more than 70 percent of the PV power comes from smaller PV plants which feed in to the low-voltage grid, where most power consumption occurs. A decentralized balance of generation capacity and power consumption uses the reduced distance between the power generator, load and storage system, and minimizes both transmission loss and grid load. The key lies in self-consumption using intelligent energy management systems and, based on this, decentralized storage, which is also integrated in these systems. Together they are the trailblazer for converting the electricity supply into a smart grid based on renewable energy.

18 Comments
  1. Avatar
    Peter Hinze says:

    Very pleased to see the development of these intelegent home energy management systems.
    However will the SB2200 and the new SB5000 be approved under G83 and G59 requirements for installation in the UK.

    Reply
  2. Avatar
    Brian McNamara says:

    Hi, If a pv system is generating a surplus that is not quite equal to the rating of the connected equipment, will it therefore draw the balance from the grid or will you have the capability to reduce the power available to the appliance so that it matches the surplus? In the diagram , you show a washing machine, for which this solution is unlikely to work, but for pure heating and possibly other applications, working on reduced power is viable and attractive to make maximum use of the surplus PV power, so will this capability also be available in this product?

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Jannis Rudzki-Weise says:

      Hi Brian,

      at the moment, there is no solution for limiting the power handed over to an appliance. The current solution with the SMA Radio Controlled Plug only allows turning an appliance on and off.

      In contrast to other solutions, the Sunny Home Manager does not only look at a PV surplus for activating devices – instead, it learns the specificities of your individual PV generation and consumption profiles and forecasts generation and consumption for the upcoming day. Furthermore, it builds profiles of your controllable appliances so that it knows for example how long the heating phase and the other program steps of your washing machine take and which amount of energy is required for each step. That way, the Home Manager its able to create a roadmap for activation of the appliances for maximizing self consumption.

      At the moment, the surplus left over after activation of the appliances can be used for example with a Sunny Backup System.

      Best regards,
      Jannis

      Reply
  3. Avatar
    Tang Jun Huat says:

    Dear SMA,

    We brought a Sunny Home Manager recently. We just noticed that Sunny Home Manager only valid in Germany at this moment. I have a few question to ask:

    1) Is it possible to access the Sunny Home Manager via computer through IP address ( internet browser like IE)?

    2) Is it possible to extract the information in the Sunny Home Manager to my Labview from National Instrument?

    3) I have a Radio frequency controller socket, can i switch on or off my load without using Sunny Portal? I wish to monitor and control the Sunny Home Manager using Labview instead of Sunny Portal.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Jannis Rudzki-Weise says:

      Hello Tang Jun Huat,

      The Sunny Home Manager is approved for every country in Europe: http://files.sma.de/dl/5608/CE_HoMan-ZEEN121310.pdf

      The weather forecast is currently only working for Germany. Further countries are planned.

      1. The Sunny Home Manger has no local interface.
      2. Data cannot be extracted from the Sunny Home Manger.
      3. Presently, there is no possibility to use Labview or similar for external control.

      We will consider your suggestions and will integrate them into further development of the Sunny Home Manager.

      Best regards,
      Jannis

      Reply
      • Christian Höhle
        Christian Höhle says:

        Nevertheless, the Sunny Home Manager builds a local forecast if an external weather forecast is not available, so activation of loads is possible even without external forecast.

        Best regards,
        Christian

  4. Avatar
    Anthony Canning says:

    Hi,
    I have a SB8000 on my home with 42 Trina 235 watt panels and a Sunny Portal monitor. The panels are fixed on the directly south facing roof. Even though the potential maximum wattage is 9870 watts, the system has never reached the maximum of 8000 watts in the summer. Even when it does the daily peak is not reached until midday or later so the inverter maximum output is only at maximum a couple hours long. Also generation is much lower in the winter.
    Is there a SB solar panel load controller that would allow me to add more panels to peak generation earlier in the day and last longer into the evening especially during the winter. Any suggestion(s) for a controller that would connect and disconnect panels as needed to insure maximum generation without compromising the SB800 would be appreciated To have such a great inverter working so little seems a waste of sunlight. Thank you for any help you can offer.
    Anthony Canning

    Reply
    • Leonie Blume
      Leonie Blume says:

      Hi Anthony,

      Due to changing ambient temperatures, the power and variable voltages of a PV array must be taken into consideration when optimizing a PV system.
      Aa a result, optimization is not easy to realize. In case of low solar irradiation (partial load), Sunny Team allowed the load to switch from a second PV array to an inverter, and the more efficiently that process worked, the less optimally the PV array was aligned (e.g., a facade plant, east/west orientation). The surplus yield totaled up to a maximum of 2 percent and thus it was often within the measurement tolerance of a feed-in meter. Until a few years ago, however, Sunny Team Technology was exclusively offered by SMA. With steadily decreasing system costs the use of the complex Team Technology became difficult to justify economically and was therefore discontinued by SMA.
      Other manufacturers offered similar technologies (e.g., Master-Slave) which are no longer on the market.
      In summary, it can be said that with the current PV system costs the necessary installation (modules, circuitries, additional hardware, cabling) are not in proportion with the expected surplus yield.

      Best wishes
      Leonie

      Reply
  5. Avatar
    Shah says:

    I read the Smart Energy has built in Lithium battery-pack. Is it safe, what is the voltage of batteries inside it? What worries me often is dealing the Dell recall for sony batteries in a laptop. What kind of testing do you do to ensure, it will be safe to put in my garage. Will I need to buy more home insurance?

    Thanks.

    -D

    Reply
    • Leonie Blume
      Leonie Blume says:

      Hello,
      the battery works with an internal system voltage of 150V. But there will be no access to this system from outside.
      To ensure the safety of the Sunny Boy 5000 Smart Energy our supplier designed a battery with a special cell structure und comprehensive safety functions.
      Furthermore the battery will be encapsulated.
      We will provide further information to the market launch.
      Best Wishes
      Leonie

      Reply
      • Avatar
        Shah says:

        Thanks for the reply. And it is great to know how SMA takes the steps in design to keep it safe for the users. So how much energy does the battery pack and can I buy more batteries to add to this product.

        Also, can I use this product without a grid I mean in garage of my cabin which is at off-grid location. I use back-up power mostly at night for lighting and sometimes TV & operating communication devices.

        Will you launch this product before next summer April 2013?

        -D

      • Leonie Blume
        Leonie Blume says:

        The battery has a nominal capacity of 2.2 kWh. A battery expansion is not planned.
        This system will also be able to supply loads in the event of grid failure. But it is not designed for off-grid applications.
        The inverter will be launched in the second half of 2013.
        I hope these information will help you.
        Kind regards
        Leonie

  6. Avatar
    David Downing says:

    Hi Leonie,

    Will the Sunny Boy 5000 Smart Energy also be available in the UK in the second half of 2013?
    Can you give any indication of price?
    Regards,
    David

    Reply
    • Leonie Blume
      Leonie Blume says:

      Hi David,
      After the product release of the Sunny Boy 5000 Smart Energy in Germany we are planning to introduce the inverter to the UK market as well.
      The way things look at the moment the device will be available in the UK after the certification in early 2014.
      Regards,
      Leonie

      Reply
  7. Avatar
    Steve Rodman says:

    Hi
    My Sunny boy 4000TL failed for 4.5 hours today. The event log (from the Sunny Beam) has the error – PE-connect.missing. The inverter has been working ok so far. It was a fine sunny day today and I guess I have lost 10KW. The inverter was fitted in January 2012.
    What do you advise?
    Steve Rodman

    Reply
  8. Avatar
    Mr A.R.Dash says:

    We got to popularize the roof top solar PV generation at India. Can i know the possibility of PV-Diesel/ CNG -Utility combinations .

    For domestic roof top it should be demonstrated that a cloth washing machine, an induction cook top , water pumps, dish washer , bread maker, bread toaster , ventilation fans are all working as the Sun shines without battery storage!A list of validated loads will provide the incentive to folks to go for solar PV .

    There are god potentials.India is Sunny and so are the Sunny Opportunities.

    There are hurdles to overcome.

    In addition the creation of potable water by using the sun will be very good.

    Last but not the least the solar thermal application like thermal chillers, hvac are equally good.

    Reply

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