carbonTRACK is an Australian company whose energy management platform promises to deliver up to 30% savings on electricity bills for solar-powered homes and 10% in businesses, not only by maximising their solar energy self-consumption, but also by ensuring that the home’s appliances (and batteries) are utilised in the most intelligent, efficient way possible.
How do you know if your solar energy is working for you?
If you’re an Australian homeowner with a solar PV system on your roof, you’re likely keen to get as much value out of your panels as possible. But circumstances aren’t on your side: Your electricity retailer probably doesn’t offer you much for your exported solar power, you may not be home during the day to use your solar electricity, and your appliances almost certainly don’t ‘know’ when to switch themselves on in order to take advantage of your solar resource when it is available.
This means that – for many solar households – the question of whether or not their solar panel array is pulling its weight is one that is only answered at when the quarterly energy bill arrives. If this sounds like a familiar concern, you may have to ask yourself two hard questions: ‘Do I know what my solar power is doing?’ and ‘What can I do about it?’
The problem less recognised: What are your appliances doing?
There are generally limits to what the average household can do about the issue of ‘wasted’ solar – solar generation happens during the daylight hours, when most homeowners are out & about and – in most cases – not consuming electricity. Some devices (pool pumps, for example) can be put on timers to take advantage of the available solar energy, but there are limits to this approach, as many other devices – televisions, stove tops, ovens and lights, for example – only make sense to switch on when someone is in the home.
Other energy-consuming devices certainly could be used more efficiently. Air conditioners and hot water heaters, for example, don’t need to be left on all day, but there is a case for switching them on just before people come home to use them. Timers are one conventional approach to solving this problem, but are not responsive to changes of plans – and timers don’t allow the home to take advantage of surplus solar energy if it happens to be available.
Batteries can help – but only solve part of the problem
Battery storage is fast becoming the most sought-after solution for this problem in Australia because it promised to let households use their solar energy later in the day – when it’s actually needed. But batteries are still expensive, and in any case are not 100% efficient – with each charge/discharge cycle there is an efficiency loss of anywhere from 5-20%, depending on the battery type, age and other factors. Some of these efficiency losses could be avoided by shifting some of the electricity usage to earlier in the day – doing a load of laundry when the sun is shining at its brightest as opposed to early morning or late evening, when the electricity would more likely come from batteries or the grid.
carbonTRACK is an Australian startup that has taken on this problem from a bird’s eye view, promising to bring unprecedented levels of clarity and control to solar households (or even non-solar ones) – with very little effort exerted on the homeowner’s part. carbonTRACK uses an intelligent and adaptable ‘Internet of Things’ approach to home energy management, that with the 2016 release of a Zigbee device, allows users to manage and control up to 64,000 smart household items from an easy-to-use smart device app.
carbonTRACK technicians are developing technology to learn from your behavioural patterns to anticipate future actions and respond accordingly. Switching will be truly optimised by connecting solar resources, battery reserves and weather forecasting with an understanding of electricity tariffs – this is the future power of carbonTRACK.
Physically, carbonTRACK consists of a central device plus a number of smaller, socket-level plugs, but the real ‘brain’ is cloud-based. Communications with ‘carbonTRACK HQ’ happen in milliseconds via a mobile-based platform unaffected to the potentially volatile nature of a WiFi connection, which users can view real-time on their user interface in 15 minute increments. It also means that all software updates happen remotely – and that you as the carbonTRACK system owner never has to worry about out of date software.
- Controls household electronics in order to maximise efficiency and energy bill savings
- Know what your electronic devices & appliances are doing in real time and over time
- Know in advance what your electricity bill is shaping up to look like and take action accordingly, either by changing your behaviours or updating carbonTRACK program settings
- Remotely monitor and control household devices via web or mobile app
- Smarter, more effective usage of grid energy, solar energy and battery storage
Interested? Contact carbonTRACK
Currently, there are over 2,000 households with carbonTRACK’s innovative software and hardware installed in Australia and South Africa. If you’re interested in joining them, contact the carbonTRACK team via the details below.
Phone: 1300 288 648
© 2015 Solar Choice Pty Ltd