Batteries

Published on July 12th, 2016 | by Kyle Field

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Maxem Adds Intelligence To Residential Home Electric Systems

July 12th, 2016 by  

Transitions Now was founded by Jan-Willem Heinen with a very simple goal that is summed up on its homepage: “we build cleantech companies.” After a bit of research into Transitions Now and the companies operating within, I had seen enough to want to dig in a bit further, and seeing as how I was already planning to be in Amsterdam for a few days in July, I arranged for a visit to the office.

After a bit of searching and a fair amount of exploring the new city on bike (aka, getting lost), I found the offices tucked away in a modern neighborhood in northeastern Amsterdam. Stepping into the office, I could feel the excited energy of the place as if it were almost tangible. People buzzing around in all directions, huddled around desks, fervently working on the latest challenge or development … it was clear that progress was being made, the common goal was being moved forward.

I was primarily interested in the one startup underneath the Transitions Now banner, Cohere, and its flagship product, Maxem. Cohere was launched in 2011 as the brainchild of Jan-Willem Heinen, who saw a gap in the current EV charging offerings when it came to enabling homeowners to charge at home on the often current-limited home electricity grid connections that are typical in Europe.

maxem_grid_charges

A Connected, Intelligent Solution

Maxem is an end-to-end solution that revolves around a small piece of hardware that taps into the home electric box as well as key large power users in the home like EV chargers, the heat pump, home energy storage, and residential power generation units like solar or wind.

With all of this connectivity, the Maxem solution maximizes the synergies between the various systems with a focus on first measuring consumption and generation, then applying its intelligence to control the individual appliances on the home grid. The ultimate goal of Maxem is to help the electricity appliances in the home work together to reduce peak energy pricing costs, eliminate the need to pull power from the grid, and, ultimately, to reduce the carbon footprint of the home.

maxem_installed

Dynamic Scaling

Maxem speaks in kilowatt-hours as the universal language of energy and can dynamically scale the power consumption of these major consumption units to smooth out the power pulled by the home.

For example, if the EV is charging during the middle of the day, the power from the rooftop PV solar system can be directly funneled into the EV instead of pulling from the grid. In markets where net metering accommodations are not available or are not consumer friendly, keeping PV generation on site is a big benefit.

The system also dynamically balances home energy usage and EV charging draws to stay under max loads. When home energy usage drops, Maxem intelligently funnels the unused capacity to the EV and, conversely, will slow down EV charging if the home energy usage increases.

maxem_high_low_evcharging

The Dashboard

Underpinning the Maxem hardware is the brains of the operation, which the owner interacts with through a streamlined, modern software dashboard that shows with beautiful simplicity the work being done by the system. Key metrics include Solar Generation, Home Usage, EV Charger Usage, % Sustainable, and other key metrics.

For me, this is data that I pull manually and dump into my home energy tracking spreadsheet, so having an intelligent, beautiful system pull it for me would be a huge win. The metrics are all presented in a “single pane of glass” with obvious color coding that makes it clear how the home is performing vs. the ideal state.

Check out the very recently launched beta of the dashboard here (that actually went live when I was there!) to see what it looks and feels like.

maxem_dashboard

Availability, Pricing, etc.

The Maxem solution is currently available throughout Europe, with global deployments in the works. Due the hardware connectivity of the solution, each region is being assessed individually to ensure the tightest integration possible.

The solution is currently priced at €595, which includes installation by a certified professional. This is sure to be another challenge for the solution, as building a network of certified, trained installers takes time — though, on the upside, the solution install appears fairly straightforward and is something most electricians should be able to tackle.


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About the Author

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. TSLA investor. Tesla referral link: http://ts.la/kyle623



  • Ivor O’Connor

    Nice.

    I wonder when we in the USA can start using stuff like this?

    • JamesWimberley

      You can. But see my comment above. There’s an ecosystem growing round Nest, and Apple has another. Be prepared to read about ZigBee, IoT and many other protocols till your head spins.

      • Ivor O’Connor

        Cool. I just joined a makers group. I’m looking forward to getting dizzy.

  • JamesWimberley

    What protocols does it use? The intelligent home market is bubbling, but the stew is inedible because of desperately fragmented technical standards. To sort this out, it will either take the emergence of a dominant player or coalition (as with the Betamax vs. VHS war) or very determined regulation. Either way, small players doing their own thing don’t stand a chance.

    • I sent them a note asking about this. I’ll share when I hear back.

    • Matt

      Oh why is it that smart people like this can’t see the benefit to them and their company of getting many of the players together and getting a standard protocol. By each thinking they will “own” the market with their “standard”, they slow the growth of the whole market. It is better to have 10% of $B market than 70% of $10M. Having all major power using devices sharing a common power use protocol could shift market size that much.

    • Michael Coussement

      For energy measurement Maxem has it’s own current transformers. So it is very flexible to measure any type of grid or device independent of the communication protocol. For active management Maxem has Ethernet and RS485 ports; Some charging station brands use UDP, others use TCP with web sockets and others use ModBus. In the energy management market there are a lot of devices using ModBus. Devices like external kWh-meters, solar inverters or heat pumps. Due to the rapid changing energy environment flexibility is one of the main drivers in our design philosophy.

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