Savant’s acquisition of Racepoint Energy may have been announced only last week, but the two companies have a much longer relationship — so long, in fact, that it predates the existence of both businesses.
Savant Power president Anna Demeo first worked with Savant CEO Bob Madonna at Excel Switching Corp — a telecom company that Madonna headed before starting Savant. They stayed in touch after he sold that company — Demeo went on to get a PhD around microgrids — but they found their way back to one another after he founded Savant.
“I had research funding to do a microgrid for an island off the coast of Maine that combined tidal, wind, and solar storage, but also energy management,” says Demeo. “It involved monitoring and control, and I got talking to Bob because he had some questions about solar for his home.”
Those conversations led to the adoption of Racepoint Energy as a sister company to Savant.
“We were discussing the changing utility grid and how there are many parallels between energy today and what happened in telecom when Bob founded Excel Switching,” adds Demeo. “Bob recognized that it was going to be the Savant customer base who would be the early adopters of this technology. They had the interest and the means to be able to adopt it. Racepoint’s first patent was set and positioned around utilities and aggregating load management and storage in the residential space. However, we had the luxury of partnering with Savant to not only leverage its incredible UI, but also an entire developer channel to be able to prove our technology.”
Working together, the companies created Savant’s lighting and energy control breaker companion modules, which deliver control and energy management of electrical loads from a compact, easy-to-install form factor that integrates into standard electrical panels. This capability allows integrators to present energy monitoring and management solutions, along with green energy sources and energy storage systems that are automated and controlled through their microgrid platform.
So why the move from sister company to full-fledged member of the Savant family? Two of the contributing factors were Savant’s purchase of GE Lighting, a Savant company and the pandemic.
“Covid changed the way we think about a lot of things,” says Demeo. “We now work from home and have kids that go to school from home, and it ramped up the timeframe of finding energy solutions and bringing the smart home into a wider market. It can be easy to look back and think, ‘Why didn’t you just do this then?’ But a number of factors have come together where it just makes so much more sense now. We’re a year out from the acquisition of GE Lighting, and it is a really good fit for us all to be one solid company — making sure that energy is a pillar of the smart home along with climate, lighting, entertainment, and security.”
Power Management Awareness
Even though interest in power management is on the rise — and power grid disasters are on the evening news — it is still a tough sell for dealers in certain areas. “In terms of driving motivators, if you have rolling blackouts in your state, then you’re probably calling us,” adds Demeo. “I’m friends with a lot of Texans all of a sudden.”
And while those are cases where the need for energy management is dire, the same basics apply to customers no matter where they are located. Demeo explains that what motivates our customer base are the three E’s — energy resiliency, economics, and environmental sustainability. Energy resiliency is keeping the lights on; economics is managing what you use from the utilities; and environmental sustainability is using renewable sources.
Another key to dealer success is training — which Savant Power is investing in. “There were some silver linings to the altered focus resulting from Covid, and one of them is that it gave us the time to turn inward and develop some of the training that we had been lacking,” explains Demeo. “I come from academia, so the education piece is really important to me — especially in energy, where we have to do some serious education in this space. We did a three-part training series on energy for dealers that you can find at Savant University. We also did a two-part training series for electricians as well — all of our products were really designed with electricians in mind.”
Which brings in another good point in regard to power management — teaming up with electricians. “One of the challenges for dealers is they have to bridge this gap from the low-voltage world to the high-voltage world,” adds Demeo. “If you have a project, we can pair you with an electrician who has this training. What seems to happen more frequently is someone has a particular job that has an electrician assigned to it, and so the integrator makes the introduction to us, we provide two hours of training, and they are good to go with our set of products. I think training is one of the bigger hurdles, and we’re trying to help dealers with that.
“I will say that architects and MEP firms are a potential resource and partner to dealers. I do a lot of talks and trainings for those two groups, because what you want on these projects is to have a microgrid designed into the start of a project, and I think educating architects and MEP firms goes a long way toward achieving success.”
Savant Power will be at CEDIA Expo (Booth #4644) along with GE Lighting, a Savant Company, and Savant — showcasing their full offerings at an event for the first time. “We’re excited to be there in our full mode,” concludes Demeo. “What we have planned lays out the smart home as a complete ecosystem, including power resiliency. That is different from what people are used to seeing in smart home technology, but it is a foundation that needs to be there.”