No, it’s not the start of a joke. And the image doesn’t show Sunny Home Manager and a dishwasher. Rather, the topic is a common language for connecting household appliances and applications for the sake of energy efficiency. This is an important goal of the EEBus Initiative.
To make device intelligence suitable for household use, the Sunny Home Manager development team has been operating Bosch dishwashers including Home Connect with the SMA Energy Manager for several months using the EEBus interface. The second Plugfest (“plug party”) (see box) was held at the end of April, when the participating manufacturers worked together to test how well the appliances already communicate. Of course, we were also curious about how things are going. A visit to the SMA Test Center.
SMA Software Developer Daniel Rudolph pushes a button to activate the Flex Start* with which the dishwasher, controlled by the Sunny Home Manager, finds the ideal time to start the washing process. We wait … and wait … and wait … and then: It works. The dishwasher starts running. Daniel is relieved.“Based on the forecast, the Sunny Home Manager chose the cost-optimized time to work,” he explained. “We were lucky that it is sunny and the forecast is good. With a poor forecast, the Sunny Home Manager waits until the last possible moment to start the appliance so that it still finishes on time.” This avoids the unnecessary use of purchased electricity – the system effectively “hopes” that the sun will come out so the dishes can be washed with the best possible energy efficiency.
Standardized energy management for energy-efficient dishwashing
When starting the dishwasher, the user can select one of the following options directly on the control panel or via the Home Connect app
1. Start now: The dishwasher starts immediately and uses solar and/or grid electricity, depending on availability
2. Delayed start (pre-selected start time): The user specifies that the dishwasher should not start immediately but instead wait for a certain period of time, such as two hours. The dishwashing process will then end two hours later than with an immediate start.
3. Flexible start: The user specifies the latest possible time for the dishwasher to finish the task and gives control of the task to the Sunny Home Manager. The Sunny Home Manager uses its energy planning function to determine when the dishwasher should start.
Thus, it also ensures that during the task, the dishwasher maximizes its use of locally produced and cost-effective solar energy. PV self-consumption increases, lowering energy costs for the user. Meanwhile, less power is fed into the grid, thereby relieving the burden on the distribution grid.
EEBus: breakthrough for the Internet of Things (IoT)
The goal of identifying a vendor-neutral standard for communication with household appliances also took SMA into new territory. So far, SMA has the proprietary SEMP protocol and the SMA radio-controlled sockets for controlling household appliances through Sunny Home Manager. “But ultimately, of course, all devices must be able to communicate with each other. Only a uniform and widely available standard makes it simple for all manufacturers to connect their appliances in an intelligent system,” said SMA Product Manager Martin Volkmar. “The EEBus Plugfest again confirmed that we are ideally prepared with Sunny Home Manager. Together with the members of the Initiative, we are now working hard to further advance this uniform industry standard. In the future, intelligent household devices shall communicate in one uniform language worldwide.”
What is a Plugfest?
A Plugfest somewhat resembles a “LAN party,” with a great many boxes and screens connected with even more cables.
At the EEBus Plugfest, the companies participating in the EEBus Initiative spend two whole days showing how their devices implement the just-published first official release version of the EEBus. The engineers bring their device prototypes to a common location and connect everything together. If each device “understands” all of the others, it proves that the integration of the new EEBus standard was successful. The Plugfest is an important step on the path to a uniform industry standard that the VDE (Association for Electrical, Electronic and Information Technologies) in Offenbach can then identify with an official seal of approval.
You can find more background information about the EEBus Initiative in this blog interview with EEBus Executive Board member Sven Schreiber and on the homepage of the EEBus Initiative .
Click here to read the press release on the partnership for information about the connection between SMA and BSH household appliances.
Image, above: Martin Volkmar, Product Manager for Sunny Home Manager, and Daniel Rudolph, Software Developer, at the Testing Center
*The appliance’s “Flex Start” option can be selected by pressing a button on the appliance itself or via the Home Connect App.
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