IoT Energy Management Solutions: key benefits for adoption
As organisations continue to make carbon-neutral pledges, energy management systems will play an increasingly important role to help achieve these goals. This is because they can help deliver savings of up to 30 per cent. Consequently, this will place the traditional solution and service providers under pressure to deliver large-scale solutions at a lower cost.
This article highlights four key benefits that IoT energy management solutions can provide over traditional solutions. These benefits can help solution providers meet the growing demand for large systems while reducing costs.
What is an energy management solution?
If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.
An energy management solution collects data from all types of installed metering devices, collating it into a central software system. Sustainability experts then examine the data and use it to optimise assets to reduce energy consumption.
In commercial buildings, energy management solutions can range in sophistication. There are simple meters that allow you to download data offline into spreadsheets, through to advanced IP addressable meters with dedicated proprietary software.
While most solutions may be great at what they do, not many can scale across entire portfolios at a low cost.
Note: For this blog, I’ll overlook power monitoring solutions. They are a more technically demanding subset of energy management that monitors power quality and availability.
Common issues with energy management solutions
In a previous role, I delivered many energy management solutions and encountered several issues. The following three were the most common:
- Expensive meter networks: upgrade projects to extend metering visibility into a building are often expensive. This is not because of the meter installation itself, but rather the networking component.
- Unreliable data: a lack of data storage close to the meter can attribute to mediocre data consistency. This affects your ability to report accurately to monitor and implement changes. A case in point is the frustration often expressed by NABERS auditors (Australia only) when trying to deal with gaps in data sourced from BMS systems that have frequently been taken offline during the audit period.
- Hard to access to data: often, solutions run on-premise and integrate to a head-end locked away in a basement. As a result, it is hard to get the data in front of the people who implement change. Also, some systems that are connected lack open standards for exchanging data. This lack of interoperability makes it hard to access the data, especially for third party software tools.
Fortunately, technology advancements driven by IoT can help to solve these issues for energy management solutions.
What is IoT?
In a broad sense, IoT technology makes data more available so businesses can achieve more. This is largely due to Moore’s law, where sensors and devices are continually improving. This results in them being cheaper and smarter. Also, with estimations of 75B devices to be connected by 2025, data transmission, storage and cloud technologies are also improving and getting cheaper.
Noticing this trend shift six years ago, we created WideSky, which takes many of these IoT technological advancements and brings them to the energy management space.
What benefits does IoT bring to energy management?
There are many benefits when adopting IoT for energy management. Below are four key ones:
1: Lower installation costs
- New wireless mesh technologies like the Thread Protocol allow methods to quickly network meters. For example, data acquisition devices like the WideSky Hub remove the need for hardwired cables, making installations faster and more economical.
- Wireless technologies like LoRa can also make low power collection devices more economical. For example, battery-powered water logging devices are easy to install and commission. Some of these devices can now operate for 10 years without requiring a battery change.
- Meters are getting more powerful, like the CET PMC-512. It packs 12 x single or 4 x three-phase circuits into a small DIN mounting device, allowing you to monitor more channels for less.
2: Improved scalability
- Software solutions that centralise the data and perform the analytics can host on cloud computing technology. This allows solutions to grow and scale as required. SaaS models enable low-cost solutions, as you only pay for what you use.
- Several open-source technology companies are building game-changing databases to handle our massive appetite for data. Modern solutions like WideSky Cloud leverage these to improve performance on large data sets and lower solution costs.
3: Powerful analytics
- Multiple buildings can integrate into a single platform, allowing data analytics to easily run across entire asset portfolios. This data centralisation allows for benchmarking across all assets for targeted improvements.
- Organisations that integrate large portfolios into cloud solutions also need initiatives like Project Haystack. Haystack avoids data management headaches, making it easier to unlock hidden value with analytics.
- By combining Haystack models with powerful structured query tools like GraphQL, we have been able to develop easy-to-use WideSky Self-Service Analytics, to enable domain specialists to implement powerful analyses without assistance from IT specialists.
4: Easy to use
As data is made available online, it can be accessed by anyone from any device. Apps like TenantView can provide occupants with a live view of their utility consumption, running costs and greenhouse gas contribution.
What about security?
Security should always be the core consideration for any Internet-connected solution. It is an ongoing journey that needs attention, not only during the implementation phase but also during operation. Vulnerabilities in IoT are continually found and exploited. But, the vast majority can be prevented simply and cost-effectively. Fortunately, there are many published best practices for IoT solutions. These allow you to connect your systems and fully realise the benefits of IoT.
IoT brings real benefits to energy management solutions. These include smart meters, wireless networking and advanced analytics. It also allows you to deploy larger-scale implementations at a lower cost. In some cases, IoT technology can unlock access to new streams of data that were previously not feasible. Over the coming years, we’ll continue to see rapid technological improvements as organisations embrace IoT to help reduce their carbon footprint.
See how we’ve created a scalable IoT energy management solution here at WideSky for Energy.