The integration of digital features in various appliances, cars, and other household items has revolutionized the way we live. One of the latest technological advancements in the field of electrical systems is the advent of smart electrical panels. These panels are designed to offer advanced digital features to homeowners, making it easier for them to monitor and control their power usage, ultimately resulting in energy cost savings.
A smart panel is essentially an upgraded version of the traditional electrical panel found in every home. Traditional panels are typically thin metal boxes that house circuit breakers and are usually located in the garage, basement, or out-of-the-way corner. However, unlike traditional panels, smart panels are equipped with state-of-the-art technology that allows for round-the-clock monitoring and control of power usage.
Comparing a smart panel to a traditional one is like comparing a smartphone to an old landline phone. Both serve the same basic function, but the smart panel offers additional functionality and modern conveniences. If you are moving towards electrification, such as energy storage batteries, solar integration, electric vehicles, or all-electric appliances, upgrading your panel will help you manage your energy use more efficiently.
A smart panel allows for the distribution of electricity to different circuits in the home, just like a traditional panel. It also serves as a circuit breaker to protect your system from short circuits and surges. However, with a smart panel, you no longer need to physically inspect circuit breakers to figure out which circuit is off. The technology in the panel keeps you informed and lets you know if any circuit breakers have tripped and allows you to control which circuits are on and off at any given time.
One of the key benefits of a smart panel is its ability to manage energy usage and costs. The panel allows you to monitor and manage the energy load using smartphone or computer apps. It shows how much power each circuit is drawing, enabling homeowners to shut off circuits as needed and even prioritize or schedule circuits. For example, areas of the home with critical power loads, such as the refrigerator or heater in the winter, can be prioritized to remain on. Additionally, electric vehicles can be charged during off-peak hours when utility rates are more favorable.
More and more homes are now installing solar power or backup battery systems. Smart panels allow for the flexibility to switch between different power sources, maximizing efficiency and minimizing utility bills. For example, solar power can be used to charge battery systems, and power from the battery system can be used when the sun is not shining. Additionally, during peak utility rates, power can be directed to specific parts of the home or particular appliances to keep energy costs contained.
Smart panels also offer added protection during power outages. If a solar array and storage system are installed, homeowners typically have to choose which loads to back up during a power outage. However, with a smart panel, you can alter the loads that are operating or backing up in real-time, ensuring that backup power is used only where it is critically needed and lasts longer.
The need for a smart panel is driven by several factors, including rising utility bills, increasing electricity usage, an aging and unreliable grid, and the need to reduce carbon emissions. Smart panels are a safe and reliable solution for electrification projects and are the best option for projects that increase electricity usage or draw power from multiple sources. With a smart panel, homeowners can take control of their energy usage and spending, ultimately resulting in cost savings.