1. Is it possible to actually track the consumption of each household device (eq. your fridge) since the circuit breakers are connected to circuits, and each circuit has multiple plugs and outlets (and therefore appliances) connected…is tracking of each of the household items possible then?
Although circuit breakers already offer much greater segmentation compared to a power meter, the technology applied to each circuit breaker is called a non-intrusive monitoring: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nonintrusive_load_monitoring
We are implementing one of such solution with our partner from Austria. For simple loads accuracy is >95%. Loads that need more work are i.e.notebooks, which are unpredictable and dynamically changing the power based on some ‘software application’ running on it.
PlutonPower Smart Circuit Breaker can in addition do analysis of other parameters than just the power, like the appliance spectrum, current phasors, to find distinguishable patterns that allow better identification of individual appliances.
2. How does “remote control of devices” work in practice?
Our focus is to give users good control of their homes while they’re away or as home automation, alarm systems (as shown in video). In such cases it is important to understand which of the appliances are ON, and if somebody wants to change the state that he can even if some other load is sharing the same circuit breaker line. For example: assume you forgot to turn OFF air-con (which is typically on it’s own circuit breaker) you’re able to turn it off; and we can provide an alert, since we can know when you are in / out the home (by tracking your mobile wifi) or even offer auto-turn off feature.
Another example as shown in video is a typical Iron - people tend to forget to turn it off. So we would be happy to receive an alert first, and if somebody is at home he can turn it off, otherwise if we’re away it is better to be able to turn off the entire line (circuit breaker) and to prevent consumption or possible ‘fire’.
There are other useful alerts, as:
- your washing machine is done, …
- your fridge consumption is too high maybe it needs service,
- or a heat pump needs service
- we may track oil consumption of a central heating since time of operation is directly proportional to oil consumption,
- and so forth; just anything, since today everything is running or controlled by electric energy.
New houses, apartments tend to have more and more circuit breakers, to separate lights, plugs in each room. With these new building standards the control of appliances becomes very good practically at appliance level.
3. Is each of the units cloud-connected or do you have to change the whole fuse box?
PlutonPower Circuit Breakers connect to each other via NFC interfaces as shown in Video.
We made two options to connect them to the internet of things:
- in the video you may see the green connector, this is to be used to plug-in a small WiFi dongle,
- or by using an optional PlutonPower Brains module as shown in the video. The DemoBox in the video is actually running with it.
PlutonPower Brains module is a completely distributed system - in the hardware we have implemented Dual Core 1 GHz ARM, 1 GB SDRAM, SDcard with 16 GB memory, mini battery back-up UPS system to operate a few hours, Wifi, Bluetooth, optional GPRS 2G/3G, Two Electrical Vehicle Controller, and our own patented technology fo precise Leakage Current Sensing DC and AC modes.
However the first solution is simplier and more cost effective to go for mass market. Alternatively to this same connector we can apply other standards, as Lora, ZigBee, Z-wave, etc. for seamless integration with Samsung TV, Apple HomeKit, etc. And each Smart Circuit Breaker has one of such connector so if you have 20 circuit breakers means you can add 20 more sensors interfaces directly to it.
4. Do you have an app for this?
We first build a proof of concept app, that works with our distributed cloud concept.
Now we are rebuilding the app to a nice app as shown in the video. We have done the first pages as are login, registration, notification, secure communication of our IoT solution. Now we are working on control and cost views.
In our team we build a complete vertical, from linux OS for the PlutonPower Brains module, Back-end System, Networking, deployment, and Front-end for Android, Web, and iOS.
5. I found similar solutions when searching online - who do you consider your biggest competitor and how do you differentiate?
- NILM competitors are mostly focusing in Smart Meters, as Bidgely (contracting via utility companies); so compared to Smart Meters - Circuit Breakers are owned by ‘consumer’ not an utility. Consumer has a control of it’s own information, not the utility (since people don’t like utility companies in average, and people don’t trust utility companies —- our solution serves as a back-measurement to verify utility); in addition circuit breakers offer good segmentation, i.e. we can know whether somebody left the light in the basement floor. Power meters cannot really identify a light in parallel to a washing machine, for them it may be just a ‘noise’
- current clamps - are add-ons to existing circuit breakers panel. Deployment is not big, mostly in business. They never entered true household market. Our technology is a replacement of existing technology, it is not such an add-on. Analogies: smart phones replaced ordinary phones, electric cars are slowly replacing diesel cars, etc… our solution is meant to be a mass market solution for just everybody, every home.
- smart plugs - these are simple gadgets, people use to control a very dedicated loads only, never for an entire household. Nobody will buy them as many to cover the entire home. Furthermore people may throw them away. Our biz is meant to be sustainable — once we’re in the household we remain there for 20+ years and can work on B2B services; you cannot do this with gadgets.
- The true Smart Circuit Breaker, there are some announcement, but nobody is on the market today, and in such story as we offer - precision measurement module (due to our patented technology http://dc-ct.com), auto-demand response programs (due to our NFC technology which forms a reliable cluster of connected devices, see video for load balancing), e-retail, e-insurance and e-service businesses.
By our research we noticed that to people control is a bigger add-on value than just monitoring to know the cost. In average electric bill is still little compared to other expenses, so that’s why we put a control as the key feature in our front. With the NILM the power meters cannot offer this kind of control. Clamps are also not providing such a control, so there are only the smart plugs. But these never see the entire household.
So we assume our technology is the most comprehensive and ready to be a mass market solution and change the standards in building installations.