This summer (2014), I decided to conduct a smart home experiment with my 4 boys and some of their friends in the school robotics club.
During the past several years, I’ve watched technology make significant strides in renewable energy, programmable thermostats, energy-efficient light bulbs, and many other amazing products. But that being said, there haven’t been too many advancements in tying all of these technologies into one system that can efficiently work together.
The smart home experiment will expose the kids to basic energy measurement, renewable energy options, awareness on what consumes energy in our home, along with some basic wiring and electricity.
We also got a chance to work with some great vendor partners for this effort which we’ll detail on subsequent pages, as we do thorough reviews on their products’ performance. These include: Goal Zero, Renogy, and WindBlue Power.
The pictures below detail our starting concept and how we planned to wire the devices together:
- Goal Zero Yeti 1250
- Renogy Monocrystalline 100W panels
- WindBlue Power Lite Breeze Wind Turbine
- VMAX 100ah solar charge tank (chain to Yeti 1250 for added storage)
- Watt meters for measurement
- 250W DC scooter motor – exercise bike generator
- 3.5W micro hydro turbine for sump pump energy recovery
- AcuRite 3-in-1 weather station with anemometer
Smart Home Experiment – Wiring Plan
Why do a Smart Home Experiment?
For kids (or adults) that ask why is this even worth it? I’ve given them my hybrid car statistics:
- In March 2012, I decided to replace my small commuter car with a Honda Insight (hybrid).
- From March 2012 to March 2014, I drove 28,000 miles on 583 gallons of gas (Average=48 mpg).
- My old car averaged 25 mpg which would have taken 1,120 gallons to go the same distance.
- Driving on 537 less gallons saved me almost $2,000 in gas in 2 years and it saved 1,170 pounds of carbon from going into the air we breathe! you’re welcome J
I know that I’m thrilled with my decision to get a hybrid!
- Conduct an energy audit: We’ll dive into our home energy bill; figure out what uses the most energy in our house; how to save energy; and how to overall reduce energy use when we’re not at home.
- Look at our home’s potential for renewable energy: Where should we put the solar panels and wind turbine?; How is our home oriented? Which areas get the most sun?; What’s the predominate wind direction and speeds?; Are there opportunities for energy recovery (wasted energy leaving our home)?
- Energy Storage: If we can generate energy from the sun and wind, what do we do with it? How much storage is enough?
- Renewable energy uses: How much energy do we expect to generate from the sun & wind each day? What do we do with it? What daily energy loads (lights, TVs, computers, etc…) match nicely with our expected renewable input so that we can use allthe energy generated on a daily basis without turning any free energy away, or run the risk of using too much energy so that we run our batteries dry? Which months will we generate the most energy? Which months will we generate the least?
- Storm water management: Where does the rainwater run-off from our roof and driveway go? Follow it from road to the catch basin to the creek and beyond. Wouldn’t it be better to allow more rain water to percolate into the soil? How do we do it?
Please keep checking back or subscribe to our blog, as we continue to build, test, and update our information based on what we’ve learned.
We hope that our smart home experiment sparks your thoughts & creativity on its many possibilities which might just bring this futuristic concept into a near-term reality!
- Smart Home Energy Storage
- Fixed and Adjustable Solar Panel Output
- Horizontal vs Vertical Wind Turbine
- Goal Zero Yeti 1250 Product Review
- Smart Home Automation: A Review of Lowes Iris