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Consumer Technology

Published on February 29th, 2016 | by Jake Richardson


Intelligent Ice Battery For Homes Introduced By Ice Energy

February 29th, 2016 by  

Ice Energy has introduced the Ice Bear 20, a thermal residential energy storage solution which will be used by utilities, with a consumer product slated to come out in 2017 as well. (The California-based company has had a larger commercial product available in the marketplace, which has also been used primarily by utilities.) CEO Mike Hopkins answered some questions for CleanTechnica about the new offerings.


The Ice Bear 20 integrates with ductless mini split systems or existing HVAC ductwork.

How does an Ice Bear 20 potentially reduce a homeowner’s cooling bill?
By using less electricity and cheaper electricity.

1. Energy savings due to efficiency gains

The IB 20 cools homes more efficiently than conventional ACs by not using its compressor during the hottest hours and instead using ice made during cool hours. This can reduce total electricity consumption by about 5%.

2. Additional financial savings for homeowners who are on time-of-use rates

The IB 20 shifts electricity use from peak hours, when rates are high, to off-peak hours when rates are low.

3. Increase value of solar generation

Some homeowners depend on retail net metering rates to get a quicker return on their solar investments, essentially using solar over-generation to increase ROI. As net metering legislation is evolving with some of the payback benefits being scaled back in certain states (see Nevada), some existing solar customers might not be able to generate as much revenue as expected. With the IB 20, they can use solar over-generation to charge their ice battery rather than sell power back to the utility at a low wholesale rate, and use the stored ice for cooling when retail rates are high. Rather than getting a low price for the over-generation, they save electricity when retail rates are high.

How can it store excess solar power generation for later use?
Homeowners can use solar over-generation to make ice. They can then use the stored ice later in the day when there is no solar and cooling is desired.

Who purchases the Ice Bear 20…the homeowner or the utility?
While the IB 20 provides financial savings to homeowners and efficiently maintains cooling comfort during extreme heat, it also offers multiple benefits to utilities. These include a 2-way communication system that lets the utility manage AC load in real-time; eliminating the need for expensive peaker plants; deferring or avoiding costly transmission and distribution investments; and preventing brownouts/blackouts during extreme heat events. Utilities can purchase and deploy fleets of IB 20s to strengthen their grids and reduce operating costs, while home and business owners in California enjoy rebates and incentives that make the Ice Bear 20 a better investment than any conventional AC unit.

What is the cost per unit?
For utilities, which buy in MW scale, the pricing is similar to our Ice Bear 30, so the least cost distributed energy storage is about 50% of the cost of lithium-ion batteries on a life cycle basis.

For homeowners in California, IB 20s can be purchased for the cost of a conventional AC system.

Would a home need more than one, or just one?
The IB 20 is equivalent to a 5-ton AC unit, so it would serve a home up to 3,500 sq. feet. A home requiring two 5-ton AC units would require two IB 20s.

How much does one weigh and where should it be located?
It is installed outside the home at ground level where the AC compressor unit usually sits. It weighs 1,200 lbs. when empty and 3,900 lbs. when filled with water. It integrates directly into existing HVAC ductwork or with ductless mini-splits inside the house.

Who is qualified to install an Ice Bear 20 and what is the installation cost?
Ice Energy trains HVAC-certified installers in each territory. The IB 20 is as easy to install as the compressor unit of a traditional air conditioner, so any HVAC-certified installer can quickly learn how to install the IB 20. Installation cost varies per area (labor costs) and with each site (ease of access, number of units installed, etc.).

What are the dimensions of one unit?
79” wide x 47” deep x 40” tall

How long is the warranty and what does it cover?
Ice Energy products are warranted to be free from defects in workmanship and materials under normal use and service per the terms below.

• Tank and Ice Heat Exchanger …………….. 5 years
• Compressor ……………………………………… 5 years
• Condensing Unit Heat Exchanger ……….. 5 years
• Other Components ……………………………. 1 year

What rebates and incentives are available for the Ice Bear 20?
Each utility offers different incentives and rebates. In California, the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) can cover up to 60% of equipment and installation costs.

How does a unit reduce peak cooling load by 95%?
During peak hours, the Ice Bear 20 turns off the energy-intensive compressor and just uses its stored ice.

How many gallons is the unit’s freezing tank?
265 gallons of tap water.

Does using an Ice Bear 20 mean the owner will also consume more water, and is there an estimate of how much more?
Once the Ice Bear 20 is filled, it uses the same water for 20 years. In some climates, the Ice Bear 20 actually produces water (condensation process that happens during cooling).

What smart grid technology does the unit use?
An onboard, networked monitoring and control system.

The residential unit seems like it has a potential to become very popular – especially in areas with very hot summers. How many units do you expect to sell in the first year they are on the market?
We have interest in 1,000 units before we’ve even begun production, so we expect the product to be highly successful.

Image Credit: Ice Energy

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