What’s a Load Controller?
A load controller enables the flexibility to allocate power and restrict consumption when and where it is needed. It was initially developed to address peak demand charges implemented by utility companies. While most residential customers do not have demand charges, except Arizona and Kentucky, almost all commercial customers do. Nowadays, charge controllers can also control the allocation of solar energy to critical loads for storage and backup needs – critical for efficient and non-wasteful power consumption.
What are Demand Charges and How Does the SolPad Load Controller Reduce this?
Demand charges are utility rates that depend on the peak demand, or rate of electrical consumption, at any given time. For example, if the demand charge for a given area is $16.40/kW, and a customer has a peak demand of 2 kW for a given billing period, then the customer will be charged $32.80 on top of the charges for electricity pulled from the grid for that billing period.
In some residential jurisdictions (i.e. of Arizona), if a solar system exists on a house, then the homeowners will be charged demand rates on top of their usage rates. For example, even if the customer is at “net zero”, where consumption equals solar production, demand charges can effectively make your electricity cost more than without a solar system. In this instance, it would not make sense to have solar production because it is more expensive.
However, this is where the SolPad Load Controller comes in. If the main goal is to minimize demand charges, then the SolPad can reduce the customer’s demand without affecting the customer’s normal mode of operation. The SolPad Load Controller does this through recognizing a user-defined kW-demand threshold and controlling the consumption of electrical loads (i.e. turning “on” and “off”) to keep the demand equal to or less than the threshold. This essentially gives the user full control over how much he or she is getting charged for electricity.
For example, imagine 2 kW is the customer’s defined demand threshold and they are currently using 1 kW in non-essential electrical equipment. If the customer wants to turn on a 1.5 kW dryer, then the SolPad Load Controller will throttle the demand of the non-essential electrical consumption to ensure that the total demand never surpasses 2 kW. If the SolPad Load Controller did not do this, the demand would be at 2.5 kW which is above the preferred threshold. Through SolPad’s load control, the customer is able to manage his or her demand charge with confidence that it will never be over a certain consumption rate.
What Are the Benefits of Using SolPad Load Controllers for Storage Applications?
By using load controllers, it’s proven that the solar panel efficiency increases by 30-40%. One of the key features of the SolPad Load Controller is the ability to allocate power where it’s needed most while accounting for how much power from storage is available. One of the most common issues we see with storage applications is how power is inefficiently managed when the grid is out, and solar production or energy storage is the only source of power. If the customer is not knowledgeable about the concept of kWh and is not meticulously monitoring his or her power consumption, then the customer will likely run out of energy when it is needed most.
Thus, load controllers from SolPad would be essential for properly managing power consumption. To ensure that the customer will have enough energy to supply critical loads until the grid comes back on. The SolPad Load Controller prioritizes user-defined critical loads while keeping track of battery capacity. It tracks electrical consumption profiles in real-time to estimate and control usage to last until the next day when solar power is being produced. This also helps save customers a ton on their electricity bills. Similar to reducing demand charges, the SolPad Load Controller will throttle lesser important critical loads and allocate power to more important critical loads based on the amount of available energy.
The SolPad Load Controller eliminates the uncertainty of how long the customer can last off of storage and enables the user a high level of visibility and control over his or her power consumption and production.
What Does the SolPad Load Controller Setup Look Like?
The setup for the SolPad Load Controller is fairly straightforward. The image below shows an AC-coupled setup:
This below image shows a DC-coupled setup:
Note that the only difference in the AC- vs. DC-coupled setup is the number of pairs of Current Transformers included. All of the loads (wires) from the main panel and sub panel first run through the SolPad Load Controller and back into the circuit breaker of the panel the load resides in.
The SolPad Load Controller can also eliminate the need for a critical loads (sub) panel. The setup is as follows for a whole-home solution for a DC-coupled system without a subpanel.
SolPad’s mission is to disrupt the conventional energy landscape by delivering integrated, user-friendly solar energy products that provide the most powerful, efficient, and cost-effective solutions for the smart home and off-grid power environments. SolPad’s innovative Solar + Storage + Energy Management products give you the ability to choose clean power solutions to reduce your carbon footprint.