Europe / Japan / US

Control box for automatic remote operation of household appliances

Due to the increasing share of renewable energy, which is dependable on the availability of wind, sun etc., a demand driven control scheme for electricity becomes ever more expensive to maintain. Additionally, in our attempts to save energy, the usage of electricity increases. Examples of this are heat pumps, electric vehicles, etc. This stresses the distribution grid beyond its limits, with high costs associated. A demand response is one of the most promising technologies to tackle today's challenges. It uses the flexibility in energy consumption to shift the control paradigm. The consumer adapts its energy usage to the availability of wind and sun, and as a function of the constraints of the distribution grid.

To be acceptable for the end consumer, the technology must operate with as little interaction as possible for the user, and without loss of user comfort. It is also essential that new technology developments allow existing household appliances, which cannot be remotely controlled, to be converted into smart appliances. This way we do not have to rely on the slow increase of the installed base of smart appliances in the regular replacement market. VITO developed a smart grid controller which tackles both challenges.

VITO solution

VITO developed a control box allowing household appliances, e.g. dish washers, washing machines and tumble dryers, to start ‘automatically’ by a remote demand response control system. This way the appliance can be turned on when this suits the (smart) grid the best, with respect of household comfort constraints. The smart grid controller is a small box with measurement, switching, communication and processing hardware, as well as a user interface.

The user turns on the household appliance and defines the ultimate moment the appliance should have finished its programme (time deadline). The smart grid controller measures and analyses the power consumption of the appliance. As soon as the household appliance has been switched on by its user, the power of the appliance is disconnected. The smart grid controller reconnects the power to the appliance when the demand response team receives a start signal from the smart grid or the user time deadline is reached. When the power of the appliance switches on again, the programme is executed. The smart grid controller works in a manufacturer independent way.

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