Energy Management and the Future of the Smart Home
From monitoring to conservation to backup, power management systems like Adapt Energy are vital to a robust Crestron Home OS integration project
Energy management in the smart home industry is an accelerating segment: revenue from these solutions is expected to grow from $2.88 billion in 2022 to a whopping $5.33 billion by 2027 in the U.S. While homes with some kind of energy management technology account for nearly 17% of households now, that number will top well over 44% in the same period.
Widespread adoption of these solutions shouldn’t be surprising — after all, energy is literally the “oxygen” of the smart home, and making sure that power can be monitored, controlled, conserved — and maybe most importantly, backed up — is vital. The U.S. electrical grid is far from perfect, and in some places, woefully unreliable. Severe weather events compound the problem.
Couple all of this with a world where both demands for energy and environmental concerns are growing, and the need becomes apparent. Simply put, the right solution can save a homeowner a tremendous sum of money. Alex Teague, COO of PanTech Design — creators of Adapt Energy, a home energy management system — illustrates the issue: “If you look at markets like California, there are variable rates throughout the day. You've got electric vehicles, you've got HVAC, pools, things that draw very, very heavy loads.”
The helpfulness of a system such as Adapt Energy becomes immediately apparent. “One of the features of Adapt is that the system has built-in scheduling that will allow you to lock those loads off,” says Teague. For example: Plug in your EV during a high-cost demand cycle, and the system will wait to draw a charge until the rates drop. Manual overrides are still functional, though, if the homeowner needs an immediate charge. By understanding just what systems in a home need power at what times, a solution like Adapt Energy is accounting for every single watt and dispersing those loads as efficiently and carefully as possible.
Controllable Breakers are the Key
The Adapt Energy system — borne out of the larger Adapt family of software and hardware solutions that integrate seamlessly into the Crestron Home® OS — is “an enclosure that goes either in-wall or on-wall and, at a basic level, controls loads through breakers,” Teague explains. “A single unit controls 16 breakers,” says Teague, “but then we also leverage Crestron Home and other systems that we can communicate with through the Crestron hardware platform.”
Those controllable breakers comprise the heart of the system. “A controllable breaker is, in our opinion, the most effective way to ensure that a load has gone off,” says Teague. “When you're talking about keeping things running and doing so in the most effective way, the analogy that I always use with the breaker is that it's the hammer. You hit something with a hammer, it's going to go off. It is a surefire way to make sure that that load is going to go off and then back on. It's not like a cloud-based system when you have any type of event — let's say, a power outage — you have to then communicate up to the cloud, get a signal back, and then do something. With a wired breaker, there's never a question.
Those breakers are easily switched — and monitored — by the end user. “We always recommend that you have energy monitoring that can show you what every single load is doing.” Much like leak detection in a smart plumbing system, a homeowner can see just where the smart home is drawing power. That includes “vampire” devices — those parts of a home that pull electricity even when they’re not in use.
The System in Action
Teague walks through the process once the Adapt Energy system is up and running: “Once the basic connection’s established, you instantly have access to your profiles, which can be configured through our software. When there is an event, it allows the end user to respond quickly with what they want to happen. It will do things on its own without any input, but it gives the end user the option to respond ‘yea or nay’ on a given function.
“But it also gives them granular control of all the loads in their system. For instance, if the homeowner has a grid loss, the system asks, ‘Do you think this is going to be an extended outage?’ If the answer is no, there’s the option to keep most of the circuits on and only turn off a few unneeded appliances.” If it’s a yes, the system will be stingier — and PanTech Design has a sister company that specializes in batteries, meaning that end-to-end backup energy solutions are available from the firm. (Adapt also has a deep integration with the sonnen ecoLinx™ battery system and a variety of solar options, too.)
Of course, the system can handle outages and other events automatically. “Some of our clients have multiple homes. If the internet’s out, the system in the home will operate independently and do what needs to be done to ensure that sump pumps are still running, refrigerators are powered up, and so on.”
And every aspect of the Adapt Energy management system is designed to integrate seamlessly with the Crestron Home OS. “We’ve been working with Crestron even before the Home platform was rolled out,” says Teague. “In fact, our CEO, Troy Morgan, worked for Crestron before he founded PanTech Design.”