Regen Energy saves power
Regen Energy is a Canadian company that uses cloud feedback for energy management. They make a small device about the size of two packs of cards that monitors electricity demand at a single air conditioner or heater, and adjusts the electric use to save energy and money. Â It publishes the data to Internet web servers to enable additional savings. Â
Regen calls its device a ‘controller,’ and it canÂ connect to any major source of electric demand. Most often, this is an air conditioner or a heating unit, typically next to or on the roof of a building. The device is connected to the electrical power source so that it can measure the amount of power used. It also sits between the thermostat and the heater or cooler so that the device knows when the thermostat demands more heating or cooling. The device can change the thermostat’s signal, delaying or simulating a demand for heating or cooling.
The Regen devices are designed to communicate wirelessly, both to Regen’s Internet servers and to each other. They coordinate with each other so that they don’t all demand electric power at the same time. Â (Regen calls this local feedback function “swarm logic“.) Â In effect, the controllers delay the demands of some buildings until the other buildings can be satisfied. Â Most utilities levy a “peak power” charge on their corporate customers, based on the highest combined demand of the company. Â By coordinating power use, the Regen units cut the peak demand and save money on power.
All the data is transmitted via a cell phone data network to Regen servers on the Internet. Â From there, a website displays it for customers, which offers another way for customers to cut energy costs. They can look at graphs showing how much energy each building uses, and can thereby determine when heating or cooling units need maintenance. They may also discover that some locations are drawing power at times when they shouldn’t (for example a warehouse may be heated all weekend even when no one works there). Regen’s website allows the customer to set schedules and restrict the amount of heating or cooling done during off hours thereby saving more energy. Â Regen claims typical cuts in energy costs of 25-30%. Â With entry costs as low as $7,200, even small companies can benefit.
Finally, the company promises to add demand response capabilities in the future. Demand response would allow a customer to keep his heating or cooling units off during periods of high electric demand, in response to instructions from the utility. This can earn significant rebates from the utility.
Regen goes a bit further than simple cloud feedback — its “controllers” are more than sensors. Â They communicate with each other to coordinate the combined electrical load. Â TheyÂ have a clever “proxy thermostat” that effectively and simply switches an air conditioner or heater on or off. Â Regen combines these functions with an easily accessed and extensible Internet service. Â The resulting package is simple to install, and can provide energy savings for both small and large companies.
(Note: see comments for updates on controller logic and demand response.)