M2M - The Industry

About two decades ago, I started my “technology” career in the PC area.  It used to be that installing a PC meant way too many wires to be installed. 

One day, one of my colleagues told me that he was investing in a company that produced wires for electronics (I cannot remember the name).  I thought he was crazy….I mean, WiFi and other short area technologies were on the horizon, as was the push towards laptops…..who needs all of these wires if we are not going to be tethered to our desks?

Well, that was a mistake.  The investment went through the roof, as I missed one key item….even portable devices have batteries that need to be charged.  So, even though we may not be using as many connection cables for communication, the explosion in the amount of personal devices meant a huge amount of power cables were needed.

Funny how Elon Musk’s solution to using less power is to use a battery in your home….ironic since many things that are plugged in are actually just to charge the battery!

And, Mr. Musk, you may be on to something…

There are a few issues with many of the current attempts/technology to reduce electricity uses:

Expense  Putting a solar panel up on your roof may pay for itself over time, but it can sure cost you a lot to start.  Sure, there are some payment plans available and sure, many jurisdictions will provide rebates/incentives for you, but it still may be out of reach for many users. 

Practicality  If you live in Phoenix, I can see a lot of upside to putting in a solar panel, as you get over 3000 hrs of sunshine a year.  However, what about Seattle?  Not to pick on Seattle, as I adore the city, but I have been there for several few day stretches and never seen the sun.  As well, what if you live in an area (like I do) where you are prone to hailstorms…..not sure how well the panels may hold up to hail the size of your cat’s head.

Portability  Ok, you have some space on your lot and you get past all of the legal/regulation red tape allowing you to install a windmill on your property….Doesn’t help you much in the event of an evacuation, or if you simply go to your cottage.

Use of the grid during peak times  In many areas, the peak usage of electricity may not correspond to when green energy produces the most.  If you live in a cold weather climate, the maximum use is actually in the winter, when days are shortest.  Also, in many areas, smog rolls over the city at the time of the day when the temperature reaches its peak, meaning that you may not get as much sun exposure as you would at other times of the day.

Enter Tesla’s Powerwall battery

The idea of the battery is that it either draws power from the grid during off hours (when it is a lower cost rate in many areas and/or the grid is under-utilized) or it draws power from renewable sources. Either way, it allows you to use this power during times when you need it most. 

Is the battery ideal for you?

There are several factors that will decide this:

•       The cost of electricity at different times of the day at your house.  If there is a big difference between peak and off-peak usage, it likely makes a lot of sense.

•       Can you attach it to a solar panel, especially an existing one?  If you can charge it for free (or close to free) using an existing investment, I have to think that this may be a no-brainer.

•       Where you live matters….as mentioned, Phoenix = yes, Seattle = no.

•       Do you live in a place that has spotty electrical coverage, such as a rural area, or one that is prone to natural disasters?  If so, I think that there is value as a back-up alone….

The Bottom Line

I remember when a few neighbours were chatting one day about plug-in electric cars.  Despite the fact that every household could replace at least one of their cars easily with a plug-in, none of us have.  The reason is that people don’t like to invest in long-term paybacks unless it makes things better.  The same goes for a solar panels….most people just don’t want to make the investment.  However, I think that the Tesla battery is an easy way to save energy. I mean, who doesn’t already have a dozen or so other devices to plug in each night…so, what is one more?

As always, Novotech is ready to assist with your M2M needs. Whether you’re looking to control, track, monitor or back-up, Novotech has the solutions and products you need. View our Line Cards and let us know how we can be of assistance.

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