As we all become much more aware of energy usage, management comes to the forefront of importance and opportunities for integrators.
“Energy management is an up-and-coming category even though it should be at the core of every installation,” says Jason Barth, CEO/managing partner, The Premier Group. “Across all types of residential projects, implementing energy management solutions allows for not only cost and energy savings, but it also opens the door a bit further to include power management for sensitive electronic systems and equipment, streamlined installations of systems, and more.”
Currently, devices from leading manufacturers such as SurgeX offer complete energy management and monitoring solutions, as well as surge protection and power conditioning products to ensure optimal uptime and energy savings in any project, he adds. “Energy management solutions are a no-brainer foundation and a solid investment for AV and home installations.”
At Metro Eighteen, many clients are placing greater emphasis on the importance of both energy efficiency and independence from an aging grid system, explained Jay Bakaler, principal. “The Racepoint Energy/Savant microgrid is an engineered solution that provides seamless operation and enables my team to satisfy each client’s unique objectives to a T.”
Energy utilization and energy management have been making mainstream news more frequently around the world, notes Mike Kavanaugh, vice president of sales, Savant. “From conversations on the need to reduce the carbon footprint and preserve resources to the rising costs of energy along with issues pertaining to our overtaxed grid systems, energy management is a topic homeowners are eager to understand and embrace.”
Energy, as a new category for the CEDIA channel, has incredible potential, he says. “Many homeowners, builders, and architects are looking for ways to construct more energy efficient homes to reduce the carbon footprint and to better manage energy costs while providing energy resiliency from our aging energy infrastructures or grids. Savant and sister company Racepoint Energy offer uniquely effective solutions in the residential energy management and energy automation categories. Our technology allows the homeowner to monitor and manage every load within the home, all the way down to plug level. By understanding energy usage to this degree, homeowners are able to make intelligent choices toward increased efficiency.”
Energy automation has many layers, and Racepoint Energy/Savant offers solutions to fit every home, Kavanaugh notes. “A complete whole home solution includes a smart microgrid that provides and manages multiple types of energy sources, including the regional grid, solar energy, a generator, and a battery, seamlessly transitioning to the most cost-effective, energy efficient source at any given time.”
For clients living in areas where brown or blackouts occur frequently, the microgrid will automatically transition away from the local grid until it has once again become stable and available, without any intervention from the homeowner, he says. “If the grid remains down for a longer period of time, the Racepoint Energy/Savant system will effectively maximize battery life and maintain comfort for the residents by reducing all non-essential loads using our Flexible Load Management (FLM) feature.”
Conversations about energy management can open the door for installers to discuss solutions that not only offer energy savings, but also introduce the importance of clean power via online UPS units, as well as surge protection and remote power monitoring and management, Barth suggests. “These solutions all build on the greater goal of providing stability and reliability for networks, control systems, security, camera systems, and more.”
Integrators are in a perfect position as smart home technology experts to provide the benefits of energy management to their clients, Kavanaugh explains. “Integrators are already the trusted source for providing lighting, environmental, automation, and AV systems for homeowners. Now they can add smart energy management solutions that all tie neatly together within the most intuitive, easy to understand user interface; their Savant smart home ecosystem.
Racepoint Energy and Savant offer solutions that ideally suit numerous applications, he adds. “Simply monitoring and managing power can save the average homeowner 15 to 20 percent in utility costs. Add a solar solution to the equation, and the potential savings increases. Add a battery storage system to the mix, and you now have a full microgrid that can work in conjunction with the Savant smart home system, providing the homeowner with further efficiency and energy resiliency. These scalable solutions provide the integrator with an opportunity to help their client become more energy efficient and grid-independent, while adding a valuable revenue opportunity.”
Explaining energy management systems to both new and existing customers calls for a slightly different approach than that taken to discuss other, more tangible, products and components.
“More than 70 percent of our service calls are related to service providers; cable and internet outages, electrical brownouts, and the like,” says Ken Irvine, VP vendor management/senior system designer, The Premier Group. “Many issues with service providers can be improved with a strong power foundation, which protects sensitive computers, electrical equipment, and AV systems from common anomalies in a customer’s power environment, such as outages, sags, swells, and electrical noise. SurgeX makes the conversation even easier with their product, enVision, which analyzes electrical conditions at an installation site to show dealers the power problems that may be affecting systems. Simply plugging in the enVision before we start a job makes for an easy conversation with the customer, when we can present a solution to common power problems specific to their home with the data to back up our suggested power solution.”
Racepoint Energy and Savant allow integrators to present energy monitoring and management solutions, green energy sources such as solar, and energy storage systems that are automated and controlled for seamless operation and enhanced lifestyle, Kavanaugh says. “Integrators can be confident in this additional revenue opportunity knowing that our solutions have been engineered by qualified energy specialists who will work in conjunction with local licensed electrical contractors to deploy the systems and help identify applicable, local government incentives.”
A full Racepoint Energy/Savant microgrid would be particularly useful in areas threatened by fires, strong winds, hurricanes, or other extreme weather systems, Kavanaugh notes. “These events can increase the likelihood of power outages, making a microgrid solution a smart choice. A microgrid solution provides homeowners with the confidence and security of knowing that they can operate their homes even when grid power is unavailable.”
The microgrid will be sized so that solar and battery capacity can provide all the energy needed, and most days, depending on location and season, it can operate without the utility grid, he adds. “Using solar energy in the daytime to operate the home, while also charging batteries, gives the homeowner the ability to run on battery power in the evening when power is most expensive and the grid is most susceptible to outages.”
At The Premier Group, a call from a new customer who is experiencing problems with energy or electrical systems provides the opportunity to discuss the system design, analyze the power environment, and determine if power is a contributing factor to system performance, Irvine says. “Many times, customers do not know the underlying issues an unstable power environment presents, so we can maximize opportunities by educating the customer and offering power solutions tailored to their specific need in the home.”