Home automation and the smart grid play complimentary roles

What is smart grid HAN?

For newcomers to the discussion, HAN (or home area networking) is the concept of adding all devices in the home to a single network. The point of this is to make them more accessible, which in turn should make life at home more comfortable.

The term “smart grid” refers to the idea of a completely connected power delivery system that not only delivers power from providers to consumers, but that is also capable of incorporating large amounts of data to make this process more efficient.

Tying these two concepts together will certainly strengthen home automation solutions with even more advanced energy management capabilities, but may also help consumers to see the practical benefits of transitioning to smart meters.

HAN provides an application for the smart grid that utilities can sell

While the smart grid has big potential to do things like cut down on fossil fuels needed to generate electricity or help utilities identify more efficient ways to provide power, much of its success relies on getting consumers behind the idea.

As of last year, fewer than half of the individuals who participated in a US survey had heard of the smart grid (though those that were most knowledgeable shared largely favorable opinions about it). In other cases, proposals to change over to smart meters have been met with a great deal of resistance.

The 2010 report, Smart Grid HAN Strategy Report 2011: Technologies, Market Forecast and Leading Players, argues that in-home networks will give utilities the compelling case they need to successfully convince customers that upgrades are worthwhile.

For consumers, opening up to a demand response system in which large, energy consuming appliances in the home can connect to utilities in real time will produce tangible benefits in the form of cost savings.

What is the current level of integration?

There aren’t a lot of utility providers are looking to get into the consumer electronics business. So, the integrated experience will need to come from multiple companies working on products at various points in the smart grid supply chain.

A seamless experience where devices in the home can respond to price increases and more detailed cost data is available to consumers isn’t quite where we’re at yet.

This isn’t to say that the various components of the HAN smart grid aren’t providing plenty of incremental value. In select locations, we have fully functional smart meters allowing utilities to improve their service, we have graphical energy displays, and we have programmable, remotely accessible switches, sensors, and appliances that enhance home life. Frequently, we see integration of two of these concepts. When all three are connected, we’ll see a network that is exponentially stronger and more capable.

Korea’s fully integrated smart grid environment

Here in Korea, you’ll find the world’s most integrated smart grid on Jeju Island just off the southern tip of the mainland. The project is an experiment undertaken by the Korean government in collaboration with SK Telecom, one of the nation’s largest mobile and broadband providers.

The idea is to strategically hone the smart grid concept in a limited area, assessing and refining the technology until it is ready for deployment in some of Korea’s larger cities.

Currently, there are more than 2,000 homes connected to the Jeju network and with ongoing investment it is scheduled to become one of the world’s largest smart grids by 2013.

Though this select area along Jeju’s northeastern coast is now one of the few areas where full provider-consumer integration is available, the entire nation is slated for upgrades before 2030.

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This entry was posted in Energy Conservation, Energy Efficient Homes, Home Automation, Smart Grid, Smart Homes and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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