Solar Panels Installers in Kohler, WI
Established in 1954, the nonprofit American Solar Energy Society (ASES) is the nation’s leading association of solar professionals advocates.
Solar Energy Industries Association
The Solar Energy Industries Association, established in 1974, is a national non-profit trade association of the solar-energy industry in the United States.
North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP)
Raising industry standards and promoting consumer confidence, NABCEP is known as the gold standard for PV and Solar Heating Installation and PV Technical Sales Certifications.
U.S. Green Building Council
The U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) is transforming the way we design, build, maintain and operate our buildings, homes and communities.
Better Business Bureau
BBB has determined that the business meets accreditation standards, which include a commitment to make a good faith effort to resolve any consumer complaints.
IREC Certificate Program Accreditation
IREC Certificate Program Accreditation is the mark of distinction.
What Are Solar Panels?
Solar panels are the mechanisms that help turn solar energy into electrical energy. Every solar panel contains smaller solar cells that power the production of photovoltaic energy. Furthermore, these panels convert the light produced by the sun containing photons which are particles of energy.
This pure energy passes through the solar cells and produces electrical loads. These panels have a flat surface with a dark bluish color which helps attract absorption of sunlight in its unit.
The surface of a solar panel usually has a glass cover that helps in developing renewable energy.
Most solar panels possess the following in their anatomy:
- Silicon layers
- Conducting strips
- Metal backing
- Anti-reflective layers
- Glass frames
When the manufacturers combine these elements, you will get a photovoltaic module. over, a solar panel is an amalgamation of cells installed on a framework for optimal efficiency.
When the sun falls on this panel, it absorbs that energy and turns it into a direct electrical current. In collecting solar panels together, you will get a system of photovoltaic panels, which is referred to as an array. Ideally, an array will weigh 40 pounds, making it 2.8 pounds for every square foot.
For solar panels to work efficiently, you need to place them in direct contact with sunlight.
What Are the Benefits of Solar Panels?
Did you know that solar panels in Kohler, WI have numerous applications that can help save this planet?
Utilizing sunlight and producing energy. Indeed, the most important benefit is having an off-grid livelihood.
It means that you will be living in homes that do not have the usual electrical utility grid services. Therefore, remote cabins would benefit from solar panels.
This way, you can reduce electric utility installation fees from a nearby grid access point.
Solar-powered electrical systems will have minimized expenses in the long run if you keep them maintained. In addition, you will access renewable and clean energy through the power of solar.
You will be benefiting the climate by minimizing the use of fossil fuels and depleting or polluting the world. Solar panels only need little maintenance, unlike the conventional source.
To top it all off, the lifespan of solar panels can be up to 20 years past the installation phase. Therefore, if you keep the quality of the systems effective, power generation will be free for years.
Solar panels can be a great addition to your home and work well with commercial usages.
It does possess not only an environment-friendly application but also a cost-effective one. By installing solar panels, you are minimizing the production of non-renewable energy. Along with this, you are saving up on money.
Solar panels can help fight climate change because they are:
How Do Solar Panels Work?
In their basic form, these panels acquire clean energy from the sun and convert it into electricity. over, this renewable energy can power electrical loads only due to solar panels. But how is that possible?
The design of a solar panel houses elements that eat the sunlight’s photons to create electrons and atoms.
The electrons get freed into the solar cell, move around, and eventually make their way to the metal conductor. This conductor has plates located on both sides of the solar panel. Consequently, these electrons come back to the solar cells and initiate a loop that charges the battery.
All of this is possible due to the negative and positive charges housed in the solar panels.
The individual solar cells have phosphorous, which acts as the negatively charged side, and boron acting as the positively charged side. Therefore, when this part gets exposed to electrons, the layers of silicon charge up in the solar cells. It gets converted into photons which generate the electric current used to power other machines.
It happens because these photons encourage the solar panel surface to knock out the electrons from the atomic orbit. Due to this, it gets released, which creates an electric field in the solar cells.
Then, these electrons become free and start to possess a directional current.
The entire process involving the photons, electrons, and electric charges is called the photovoltaic effect.
Are Solar Panels in Kohler Worth it?
There are numerous reasons to install solar panels in Kohler, WI. For example, the increasing cost of living and electricity bill should influence residents and businesses to choose photovoltaic energy. However, your location and solar panel usage will determine the cost-effectiveness.
The rate of electricity is volatile, depending on your location. So, you need not be influenced by the popularity of solar power.
There are some detailed analyses that you can do to determine whether installing solar panels would be worth it or not.
|The monthly energy bill and statement.
|If you have a high electricity bill, then installing solar panels will eliminate this cost.
|The charges shown on your statement might be volatile and are determined by usage.
|Building’s orientation and shade.
|Having greater access to the sun will allow you to harness it better and produce enough electric current.
|If you live in hilly and cloudy areas, the solar efficiency will be minimized, irrespective of your building orientation.
|The estimated amount to be spent on solar panel installation.
|Usually, the installation cost is worth it because of the prolonged savings you will acquire.
|Installation costs depend on your building requirements; hence they will vary indefinitely.
Based on these important considerations, you can now determine whether installing solar panels are worth it.
For example, if you live in state with a lot of sunlight hours, your building will automatically receive enough sunlight for a solar project to work. But you need to consider the cost of installation and the amount of electricity bill you get every month. Only then can you decide on installing solar panels.
Similarly, getting a solar panel installed in Seattle might not be a great idea if you fail to receive adequate sunlight.
Indeed, getting solar panels can be a subjective question that depends on a lot of factors.
How Much Do Solar Panels Cost in Kohler?
The cost of buying a solar panel and installing it will vary from state to state. Initially, the were incredibly high, which made it impossible for people to acquire. However, the rise in production and demand substantially decreased solar panel in the last few years.
After installing them, you will get tax credit and incentives from the federal government.
To put it into perspective, consider Arizona is where you require a solar panel installation. Then, a 6kW solar panel will have a starting price of 13,680, translating to an average cost of 2.67 per watt.
On this, you will get a 22% tax credit as of 2021, which amounts to a 3,010 value. In addition, Arizona produces 12.12 cents per kW hour which makes solar panel installation effective.
Due to this value, you will take advantage of the clean energy program to reduce upfront expenditure.
Even so, the Center of Sustainable Energy suggests an average installation cost. They believe that the solar panel cost is 15,000 to 25,000, depending on your location and usages.
Based on their findings, you can estimate that the average residential 5kW solar panels will have a 3 to 5 per wattage cost. However, this amount is before the calculation of tax credit and incentives from the government.
To put it into perspective, here is the average breakdown of a 5,000-Watt (5kW) system:
|5,000 W multiplied by 4.00/Watt = 20,000
|22% multiplied by 20,000 = 4,400
|Total payable amount after deducting tax credit = 15,600
Depending on the utility and your state, you might even get access to incentives for changing to solar energy.
The final PV system you want to install will have different depending on the factors like:
- Size of the solar panels
- Configuration options
- Components used
- Cost of installation
- Local permits
Based on the final price, there will be a deduction from incentives and tax credits too!
How Much Do Solar Panels Save in Kohler?
Solar panels are prone to fluctuations because their workability depends on:
- Amount of direct sunlight received
- The size of the solar panels
- The angle at which the panels were installed
- The rate of electricity in your locality
These factors will determine the effectiveness of the solar panel’s cost savings. As mentioned earlier, your energy bill can reflect a lot of information related to solar energy.
On average, an American household will spend 1,500 every year on standard electricity costs. Even though installing a solar panel in Kohler will cost thrice of that amount, the long-term cost will be less. over, solar energy can feed all your requirements and have 100% effectiveness.
It translates to a potential savings of 100 per month. Consequently, if your energy bill is close to that average cost, the solar panels will bring in ROI in less than ten years.
Even with the fluctuations in utility rates, solar power generation will not be affected.
You will have access to singular electricity from solar panels without contributing to fossil fuel consumption. In addition, if you maintain your solar panels, they can last for up to 25 years, bringing in ROI tenfold!
You get free energy for 15 years without impacting the environment or paying for it every month.
What Are Solar Panels Made of?
As mentioned earlier, solar panels have silicon layers with metal backing and conducting strips. However, there is more to its construction than just these basic elements and glass frames.
|Acts as a semiconductor that converts sunlight into electric energy.
|Aluminum metal frames
|Protects against dangerous weather and mount it properly in the desired location.
|A thickness of 6 to 7 mm ensures the protection of the silicon cells.
|A standard element that regulates the energy transfer and ensures a sustainable module.
|Helps connect the parallel solar cells and carries the electrical current generation to the battery.
|These are the tiny particles that process the effectiveness of silicon cells.
By using these elements, manufacturers use a delicate and sophisticated process to ensure the perfect construction.
How Much Electricity Do Solar Panels Produce?
Every solar panel will have a different production of electricity. over, the usage and sunlight exposure will determine its efficiency.
|Residential solar panels
|1kW to 4kW 250 watts to 400 watts per hour
|Commercial solar panels
|Up to 10kW 470 watts per hour
Solar panels have become 20% more efficient than they were a few years ago. Therefore, the average calculation of solar panel electricity production would be:
- Average US requirement for solar energy – 6.62kW (system size)
- Each year household production – 9,000kWh
- Ideal sunny conditions – 320 watts of solar electricity (wattage/panel)
From here, if you divide the system size by the per panel wattage, you will get 20.69, which is the equivalent of 21 solar panels.
What is the Solar Panel Installation Process?
We offer intricate installation and activation services in Kohler, WI. Our high-quality services include processes like:
|Site assessment and analysis
|Our team of contractors will go on-site and determine the state and analyze the course of action. We will prune unnecessary obstacles to ensure proper access to sunlight.
|This step helps us understand the situation better and determine the unique attributes of your building to defuse the hindrance.
|Permits and documents
|After determining the design and actionable course, we will submit the draft to your local government. Our team knows the permitting process.
|It ensures that the regional verification and regulations are met, and your permit is authentic and legal.
|Our contractors will start the work after getting acknowledgment and freeing obstacles. We will install wiring, mount the equipment and place the solar panels facing direct sunlight.
|We utilize intricate and sophisticated installation processes to ensure the proper efficiency of your solar panels and the longevity of the structure.
After completing our work, a government representative will inspect the installation. In some cases, they might install a meter that feeds the excess power into the electrical grid.
After you have gotten the green light and all our efforts have been approved, you activate your solar panels by flipping a switch.
How Long Does a Solar PV Installation Take?
|1 to 4 weeks
|2 to 8 weeks
|1 to 7 days
|2 to 3 weeks
One thing that we believe in is the inevitability of solar energy!
We also understand that our knowledge about solar panel installation comes with numerous responsibilities. The use of renewable energy has become a trend in most American homes and commercial sectors.
Our team of solar energy professionals can install PV systems in your budget, benefiting your building. If you choose us, you will save money and ensure a fruitful investment. over, the ROI you reap from our solar panel installation in Kohler, WI will be significant.
We are transparent about the cost of installation and the process!
The expert contractors have industry expertise and will offer you their services with utmost dedication. Therefore, you can achieve numerous benefits in terms of customer service.
Our excellent services in every US state will help you through the turbulent journey of solar panel installation.
We pledge to endow you with detailed information about PV systems. The team strives to offer client-oriented services, and we respect your decision to go solar. Therefore, you can feel free to ask us for advice or help with anything.
With years of experience in installing Kohler solar panels in different buildings, we have a satisfaction guarantee. You can book an appointment with our technicians and witness our dedication to making America green!
Our contractors use the sophisticated and latest machinery to install high-quality solar panels. Furthermore, we have designed our panels with the utmost care to ensure durability.
Our company is certified, and we pride ourselves on being a respected solar organization.
Due to our years of experience, we can guide you through the paperwork submission process to your utility. Furthermore, we do not stop our relationship with the clients after the process is over. We will be sure to monitor the progress to ensure the solar energy conversion works perfectly.
Our investment is our driving force, and solar energy is our passion.
Kohler 1440W Solar Recharging Portable Inverter Generator | enCUBE1.8
With no engine or need for fuel, enCUBE® battery inverter is a clean power source with zero emissions, which means it can be used indoors.
Home All generators By power rating 0 KW to 25 KW Kohler 1440W Solar Recharging Portable Inverter Generator | enCUBE1.8
Kohler 1440W Solar Recharging Portable Inverter Generator | enCUBE1.8
The enCUBE™ is an indoor/outdoor portable battery inverter generator, ideal for camping, tailgating, home, condo or apartment during a power outage. Producing 120 volts AC and 5 1/2 Volts DC power, the enCUBE can be used to power up to 1440 continuous watts and 1800 maximum watts. Rechargeable either through a 120 V power cord plugged into a standard wall outlet or optional solar panels available in 60 W and 150 W sizes.
Usually ships in 1 week after place the order.
Product can be export to the Caribbean, Latin America and other parts of the world.
Chat with one of our customer service representatives or call us at 1.954.657.7777 to access the list of recommended international carriers (forwarders) for shipping from USA to your country. (Shipping within the continental USA is free for orders over US200).
Details and Specifications
Skip the fuel and get quiet, portable power to run your appliances and mobile devices. Charges through a 120 V AC wall outlet or optional solar panel (sold separately).
Able to parallel two or more panels for quicker charge (max 240 Watts input) or combine multiple units or similar batteries for increased run times.
With no engine or need for fuel, enCUBE™ is a clean power source with zero emissions.
It can be used indoors during power outages and offers quiet ambient sound levels.
enCUBE is the fuel-free alternative to portable power, so it can be used at home or when you’re camping, hunting or on the job.
days for professional use. No hour limit.
- Custom options let you build your generator any way you want it.
- 60-Watt folding solar panel
- 150-Watt solar panel
- 25-foot solar extension cord
- Solar panel parallel connectors
|120V 3600W 20A (for 0.3 sec.) and 1800W 15A (for 10 min) max / 1440W continuous (12.5A)
|12V / 5V USB
|Run Time @ Half load
|Varies on load. see owner’s manual.
|Sound level @ 7m
|Low Battery Auto Shutdown,GFCI,High Temp Shutdown,Overload Fuses
|Yes; shows battery charge level
|Fuel Tank Capacity
|12V 100 A-hr
|Maintenance free sealed AGM lead acid battery
|Charge Time Solar
|Charge Time 120V
|18.5 x 14.0 x 16.0 in. (w/o handle)
Kohler enCUBE 1.8 KW Solar Recharging Generator
The Kohler enCube was on the edge of innovation when it first came out, but its lead-acid power source is making way for more popular lithium-ion units.
Do a Google search for “solar generator” and you’ll be in prepper heaven with all kinds of choices from instruction on building your own DIY kit to legit-looking systems that are awfully tempting. There are questions left on the table though, especially if you’re not a prepper but the idea of a solar charging generator sounds appealing. The big one for most of us (and I’m included in that group) is the reputation of the company building an rather expensive generator. When I saw the Kohler enCUBE 1.8 KW Solar Recharging Generator at World of Concrete earlier this year, I finally had an option where the reputation was already proven.
With reputation established, the next question is all about capability. A typical gas-powered jobsite generator has to pull 5000 watts in order to get the attention of many professionals. That’s not a surprise with a suite of tools that includes everything from drills to miter saws. However, this golden age of cordless tools might make us reconsider what we actually need. The Kohler enCUBE and I are going to address that end of the question in future article. For now, let’s see what the enCUBE has to offer.
There are only two reasons to mention the packaging for a tool – either it’s terrible or it’s excellent. For Kohler, it’s outstanding. I was nervous about having a generator of this weight shipped, but it turns out there was nothing to worry about. A custom molded high density foam ensured any bumps were absorbed while extra rigidity was added to reinforce the corners of the box.
Even on paper, the power to weight ratio stands out like a sore thumb. 109 pounds is a lot to haul around. In the Kohler enCUBE’s defense, it has an integrated wheel base and telescoping handle to make moving it around easier. The weight comes from using a 12 volt, 100 amp hour AGM lead acid battery. This isn’t your standard car battery. It’s designed as a deep cycle power source that won’t suffer the negative effects that typical lead acid batteries encounter when discharging too far before recharging.
A total of six power outlets come on the unit to give you a variety of options. For standard devices, like corded tools and battery chargers, you have two 120 volt power outlets. Tech devices can be recharged on a pair of 5 volt USB outlets. Finally, two 12 volt vehicle outlets are also available.
Battery terminals on the back allow for vehicle jumpstarting. I’ve been told by an insider that it can also be used to daisy chain an extra battery as a power source, but that’s outside the scope of what the enCUBE has been designed to do.
The battery is accessible by removing the screws under the top lid. This means that you’ll be able to replace the AGM battery yourself when the time comes and leaves the door open for potential improvements.
Sunlight: Gatorade for the Kohler enCUBE
Solar charging is one of the major draws for this system, but those new to the idea need to be sure and understand the expectations. Solar power is efficient and clean. However, it also tends to be slow. I received the enCUBE with the optional 60 watt solar panels. This puts my complete charging cycle time at somewhere around 20 hours in perfect conditions.
The reality is you’ll only experience those conditions for short periods of time. Even in Florida, peak charging on a good day is only going to be in the neighborhood of 4 – 6 hours.
Whether recharging via AC power or solar, the Kohler enCUBE gives you a charge status indicator. It uses a 5 bar indicator along with a digital readout of your current charging power. I went out at high noon (high, hot, bright sun at 92 degrees) to see what I could pull for input power. I maxed out at 45 watts of input power and averaged close to 30 watts. That means my peak charge time is just under 27 hours and my realistic charge time is closer to 40 hours from completely depleted to full.
You can reduce the charge time greatly by going with Kohler’s 150 watt solar panel option or by combining up to 240 watts of panels. With the real world charging I saw, this would make your average charge time between 10 (240 watts) and 16 hours (150 watts).
While it’s billed as a solar recharging generator, using the wall charger will be your go-to option overnight between jobs. The manual states that it may take as many as 24 hours to fully recharge the battery. Even though I was pulling 85 watts from the wall (14 hour charge time), the system is going to reduce the charge rate as it gets closer to full to protect the battery.
Why Not Use Lithium-Ion?
If you’re reading this as a professional tool user, you’ve probably wondered why the Kohler enCUBE wouldn’t just utilize a big lithium-ion battery. It’s a great question – lithium-ion is lighter, has a smaller footprint, longer life cycle, charges faster, and doesn’t lose the ability to deliver full power as it drains. With all those benefits, you’d think a lithium-ion power source would be a no-brainer.
The big reality at this stage of the game is price. The enCUBE starts at just under 1100 and runs about 1400 for the package I received. To make a lithium-ion package at the same price point, we’d be looking at 25 – 30 amp hours, not 100. Lithium-ion is certainly somewhere down the line for serious consideration. However, with a battery-powered generator having to balance capacity, power, and price point compared to gas powered generators, it just doesn’t make much sense.
Using the Kohler enCUBE
The Kohler enCUBE is listed as a 1.8 kilowatt (1800 watt) generator. It is capable of drawing 20 amps (3600 watts) for the quick surge required by tools and devices. In high stress applications, it can produce 15 amps (1800) watts for 10 minutes. However, for sustained power, you’re looking at 12.5 amps (1440 watts). The battery certainly holds more capacity than the two high-draw scenarios, but Kohler has designed protections into the system to extend the battery life.
When you’re powering smaller items through the USB and vehicle chargers, you can pull power without turning the system on. You only need to power it up when you’re using the outlets and all three will operate normally with the power on. You’re able to run the generator while it is charging as well. As the unit reaches the last 20% or so charging, it reduces the energy flow. It continues to slow down the draw until it reaches a maintenance trickle charge to protect the battery.
Aside from the information you’re given during charging, a couple other useful bits of data are displayed during use. Similar to the input wattage displayed during charging, you’ll now see the output wattage. The computer takes this and calculates the amount of time you can continue to run at that output – an outstanding feature for any kind of sustained tasks.
Living in the golden age of lithium-ion power, we need to get back to our more careful roots when using an AGM lead acid battery. These have a battery memory. If you constantly charge with only 20% or 40% of the capacity used, you’re going to limit the future capacity. You also need to avoid going too deep into the discharge. A low battery alarm and automatic shutoff will occur when the voltage drops too low, but you also want to keep an eye out to avoid dropping below 20% remaining capacity to avoid damage.
Properly maintained, an typical AGM lead acid battery can last up to 8 years and more than 4000 cycles. Less careful use should still net 2 – 3 years and 700 – 800 cycles. You’ll want to extend the life as best you can considering the 150 – 250 replacement price tag.
A Note About Value
If you’re comparing the enCUBE to gas powered generators, there’s going to be a gap. Even on the high end of the scale, generators in this wattage class are going to be several hundred dollars cheaper than the package we reviewed (though the generator on its own is in the high-end range). You can easily get triple the power or more for the same price with gas power, but you lose all the benefits that battery brings with it.
When you’re looking at the 1800 watt battery powered generator class by itself, things get more interesting. Goal Zero and Earthtech are the main competition – they’re going to start at 2000 and go north from there. Additionally, Kohler has been around for a long time and their name is synonymous with quality small engines, including those found on generators. Kohler offers a longer track record and reputation along with savings of more than 600 by the time it’s all said and done.
There are lingering questions about what we can realistically run and should expect to get out of the Kohler enCUBE in terms of work. I’m going to leave those dangling out there for another week or two and tackle them in another article. At this stage, we simply wanted to get to know the enCUBE and see what it was all about compared to other small generators out there.
There are trade-offs between gas and battery powered generators. The Kohler enCUBE has no emissions, no gas and oil to worry about, no small engine maintenance concerns, is nearly silent, and can be used indoors. The downside is the weight, price, and recharge rate.
Where the enCUBE shines is in its ability to deliver power across three platforms with a brain that helps maintain the battery for a longer lifespan. It enjoys the Kohler name and reputation while tackling a price point that’s hundreds of dollars less than their battery-powered competition. Whether you’re preparing for a loss of electricity or looking for a more environmentally friendly way to get the job done, the Kohler enCUBE is at the top of this generator class.
Kohler Power buys startup that uses game-theory math to manage microgrids
Can game-theory mathematics help keep the balance as solar panels, batteries and electric vehicles are linked together in microgrids? Kohler, the bathroom fixtures giant, is betting yes.
Kohler Power Group, the corporation’s quiet but globally active generator and energy services arm, has announced that it is acquiring Heila Technologies, a six-year-old Somerville, Mass.–based startup whose technology is currently managing two dozen microgrids across North America.
Heila’s software and hardware are built around the idea that a rigid command-and-control approach is not the best way to integrate solar arrays, EVs, batteries, fuel cells, backup generators and other distributed energy resources (DERs).
Instead, Heila has used principles of game theory — a branch of mathematics dedicated to modeling and predicting how independent agents behave in cooperative or competitive settings — to develop a system that enables individual DERs to work out among themselves the best ways to balance the grid.
Heila’s unique distributed control architecture allows DERs to respond to shifts in the balance of supply and demand of electricity, voltage or frequency fluctuations, and other disruptions to their shared system in what’s known as a “ self-healing” approach. The idea is that DERs can self-adjust in ways that bolster grid stability as a whole without centralized controls that attempt to manage each device’s actions.
The concept is emerging as a central theme for a host of technologies developed to keep increasingly complex microgrids running or to get lots of DERs to support power grids that weren’t designed for them.
Companies like Heila that can successfully pull off these complex coordination tasks are becoming hot commodities for grid software vendors and energy services giants looking for ways to tap into fast-growing distributed energy markets.
Kohler and Heila did not disclose the terms of the acquisition. Heila had previously raised 3 million from Table Rock Infrastructure Partners, Massachusetts Clean Energy Center and Acario Innovation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Tokyo Gas Co., as well as other private investors.
“ We want to make batteries and microgrids and generators work together everywhere,” Heila CTO and co-founder Jorge Elizondo said in an interview. “ Working with Kohler, we can take our technology worldwide.”
Elizondo and Heila co-founder and CEO Francisco Morocz met at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. They grew the company they co-founded with a combination of federal government grants and revenue from early projects such as a showcase microgrid at the Stone Edge Farm winery in California.
Further Department of Energy–backed work at New Mexico’s Kirtland Air Force Base and an all-electric housing project in Basalt, Colorado led to connections to utility and battery partners, as well as an expanding roster of projects in Louisiana, Florida, Washington, D.C. and, in the company’s first venture outside the U.S., Costa Rica.
How Heila fits into the complicated microgrid landscape
Heila is a small player in a big industry. Deep-ed private-equity firms are putting billions of dollars into distributed energy and microgrid businesses, partnering with established grid vendors such as Siemens and Schneider Electric that have their own microgrid control platforms. Companies like Enchanted Rock, Scale Microgrid Solutions and PowerSecure are building projects centered on natural-gas-fired engines that provide reliability when the power grid goes down.
The increasing cost-effectiveness of solar power and batteries is also driving more fossil fuel generator companies to integrate them into their projects. Generator makers such as Caterpillar, Cummins, Rolls-Royce, Wärtsilä and Aggreko have all partnered with or acquired battery-management technology platforms to expand their capabilities on this front.
Kohler Power Group, which has manufactured generators since 1920 and sells them in more than 100 countries, is adapting to similar demands from its customers, Brian Melka, group president, said in an interview.
“ Companies have put in solar to try to reduce their energy costs,” he said. “ They likely have backup generators on-site or emergency standby power, and now they’re trying to add battery storage to that system, or fuel cells.”
“ One of the main challenges with traditional solutions is the level of centralized command and control,” Melka said. “ It creates a lot of complexity in connecting power sources and power consumers” — a complexity that only grows as customers add and subtract new devices and loads.
Get Caught Up
This startup turns electric water heaters into grid batteries
Kohler Power intends to integrate the technology into “ every product we put out [so they will] be what we call Heila-ready,” Melka said.
While the vast majority of Kohler Power’s business is with commercial and industrial customers, it recently launched a Power Reserve battery system targeted at residential customers, along with a new home energy management division.
That puts it in competition with Tesla, Sunrun, sonnen, Sunnova and other rooftop solar vendors offering batteries, as well as with Generac, a leading generator maker that’s now selling batteries and Smart thermostats.
These companies are investing in technology to manage solar, batteries and other household loads in ways that can help reduce stress on the power grid. For example, Generac has launched a grid services unit, fueled in part by its acquisition of Enbala, a company that aggregates devices such as pumps and motors, backup generators and behind-the-meter batteries to earn money in energy markets.
Heila’s work on linking solar– and battery-equipped homes into neighborhoodwide networks could offer even more fine-grained levels of grid-balancing capabilities, Melka suggested. “ The ability to link up a community of homes that have solar-plus-storage, and generators as well, and create resiliency for 40 to 50 houses rather than just one house at a time — Heila has demonstrated they can do that.”
Heila’s software integrates economic values, such as varying cost of electricity produced from different DERs or the potential payments they can receive for providing grid-stabilizing services alongside the physics-based measurements that keep DERs in balance, Elizondo said. “ It comes with the [utility-rate] limitations on how much you can import and export at what times, services you can provide the utility such as demand response and voltage support,” he said. “ Interacting with the utility and the grid is one of our main features.”
The benefits of going with a game-theory design versus a command-and-control approach can really start to pay off when “ trying to scale and bring many resources together,” Elizondo said. “ There’s a limit to what you can handle from the centralized approach.”
Melka emphasized that Kohler intends to give Heila free rein to continue providing its technology to projects outside of Kohler Power. “ We want them to be agnostic in how they go to market,” he said, “ and really scale and create power resiliency everywhere.”
Can radically distributed DER controls gain traction in the market?
Ben Hertz-Shargel, the global head of grid edge research for analysis firm Wood Mackenzie who holds a doctorate in mathematics, noted that Heila’s game-theory approach follows a long-running body of academic research into complex systems and swarm intelligence, in which there is no centralized control.
Distributed DER control systems are being developed by companies such as PowerFlex, the California Institute of Technology spinout acquired by EDF Renewables North America in 2019. and PXiSE, the Sempra Energy subsidiary that was acquired by Japanese energy tech conglomerate Yokogawa Electric last month. Toronto-based Encycle has used a decentralized “ swarm” approach to perform commercial HVAC energy management since 2005. Hertz-Shargel added.
“ Whatever the claims about game theory, emergent intelligence and the like, a microgrid is just about physical stability,” he said. Whether centralized or decentralized, the control architecture needs to maintain frequency and voltage throughout the network. “ Heila has a significant burden to prove that their solution is more robust than those of companies like Enchanted Rock, PowerSecure and Schneider Electric, who own the market and have years of complex projects behind them.”
Heila and Kohler are also competing in an increasingly crowded marketplace, Hertz-Shargel noted. Large commercial and industrial customers “ are being approached by companies across the value chain, from asset developers to retailers, to provide integrated energy solutions for resilience and sustainability.” he said. “ The majors will be soon to follow.”
Similar competitive pressures exist in the residential space, not just from providers of generators, batteries and solar but from the tech giants such as Google, Amazon, Apple and Samsung vying for market share in home automation, voice-activated devices and Smart appliances, he said.
“ Once you control the home ecosystem of devices, it’s a small step to managing their energy consumption,” Hertz-Shargel said.
One big question for microgrid technology providers like Heila trying to make inroads into these residential markets is how successful they will be at convincing partners to embed their technology into new “ Smart” devices, he said.
Companies will face plenty of opportunities to compete against each other — or to partner to combine the capabilities of their technologies in new ways.
Jeff St. John is director of news and special projects at Canary Media.