Montreal-based dcbel is debuting a home energy system that combines its renewable energy ecosystem with LG Energy Solution's batteries to provide resiliency against blackouts and natural disasters.
dcbel offers a "home energy station" named r16 that merges functions like a solar inverter for DC-to-AC conversions, a bidirectional electric vehicle DC charger and AI-assisted energy management. It can power homes with solar energy or via the battery from an electric vehicle (EV), freeing it from the grid and greenhouse gas-generating energy sources.
But a limitation of solar energy is its reliance on the sun, which could be a problem during blackouts or outages when power from the grid is not available. To address this, dcbel partnered with LG Energy Solution to bundle a lithium-ion battery that can store surplus energy for use when needed, or when electricity costs from the grid are at their highest.
Matthieu Vidricaire, head of growth and operations at dcbel, told SustainableBiz, “One of the keys to really leverage the true benefits of solar production is the ability to store. LG Energy Solution are market leaders on that front and combining solar with storage . . . there’s a lot of momentum to combine all solar installations with storage.”
The dcbel-LG home energy system
The system incorporates r16, solar panels and LG Energy Solution's RESU Prime batteries.
The batteries will come in two sizes:
- the RESU16H with a 16 kW-h charge and can be scaled up to 32 kW-h, which can fully cover the average daily electricity use of a home; or
- the RESU10H Prime has a maximum charge of 9.6 kW-h to back up critical loads during peak hours and emergencies.
The “game changer” is how the system allows for the automatic configuration of energy use through AI-driven functions that ease “complex things to optimize.” The software can integrate and orchestrate an ecosystem of solar panels, EVs, racking and batteries.
It also calculates energy consumption and can produce a carbon footprint impact with dcbel's cloud IoT management platform Chorus.
The home energy system incorporates dcbel’s bidirectional EV DC charger that can turn a vehicle battery into a power source for a home.
Based on the average installation for a single-family home in the U.S., Vidricaire said the RESU16H is a “sweet spot” for the home category. He said it can back up the house for a full day and leverage solar production if the home is isolated from the grid.
If overall optimization is met for the average U.S. installation — with solar production, the RESU16H and average EV battery charge of 40 kW-h — he said the system can serve the energy needs of a standard U.S. home for up to five days.
For people who want to push the system further, a house could theoretically be backed up as long as necessary with significant solar production, additional battery storage and an EV.
How the relationship started
dcbel and LG Energy Solution forged the venture when both companies realized they had converged on the goal of providing cost-viable, DC-AC conversion solutions for the residential home energy industry.
The industry is adopting solar energy and addressing demands from homebuilders, governments, incentive programs and consumers to look for energy independence and/or resiliency.
Vindicaire called it a “perfect marriage” because both companies’ capabilities and products are fully complementary.
California debut, and meeting resiliency needs
The home energy system will debut in California. Vindicaire said it was an “obvious” place because there is a “very clear need in California for a solution like the combined offering of this home energy system with battery and solar.”
He noted California is an early adopter of solar energy and has deep EV penetration. There is already a fair amount of momentum from consumers to go toward the direction dcbel was moving; they just needed a next-generation of products and capabilities to continue that progress.
As California has faced the brunt of extreme wildfires and interruptions like public safety-related power outages, coupled with high energy prices, it was an ideal place to market the home energy system.
“Your average Californian home owner is looking for the kind of attributes we want to bring to the market, which is, ‘I would like energy resiliency. I don’t need to be off-grid, but I need (a solution), because there is a fair amount of outages — planned and unplanned — for which I would like to be less disrupted.’ ”
He said it gives Californians an alternative to oil and gas generators which do offer flexibility, but run counter to the goal of reducing fossil fuel usage and cutting carbon dioxide emissions.
As well as bolstering resiliency, the home energy system can join the distributed energy ecosystem, allowing homeowners to sell excess solar electricity to the grid.
With the home energy system in the middle, it can make decisions to optimize the solar production, including recognizing if the grid is a net buyer at a certain period with a good price per kW-h.