One of the things we don’t hear much about when it comes to rooftop solar and electric cars is the cost and complexity of connecting them to the existing wiring in the home. Lots of residences have electrical panels installed 50 years ago when circuit breakers were the new, new thing. Adding an EV charger or solar panels to the roof may be more than that old panel in the basement can handle.
Upgrading your home’s electrical service can be expensive. Just upgrading from 100 amp to 200 amp service can cost $2,500 or more. But a company known as ConnectDER has created a way to simplify the process at greatly reduced cost. What they do is insert a device that plugs in between the meter socket and the electrical meter.
The ConnectDER (which stands for “distributed energy resources”) device can either accept incoming electricity from a rooftop solar installation or send electricity directly from the meter box to an EV charger without making any changes to the entry panel. That could save residential customers thousands of dollars.
The ConnectDER device is available now free to all 3.5 million Con Edison customers in New York City and Westchester County who want to add a rooftop solar system or EV charger to their homes.
What does the company get out of the deal? Data. The ConnectDER is internet enabled, so Con Ed knows how much electricity is being generated by solar panels or used to recharge an electric car and when. It can use that information to plan how it will invest in future system upgrades and how to operate its distribution system more efficiently.
“ConnectDER makes it more convenient for our customers to take advantage of the economic and environmental benefits of solar energy and electric vehicles,” James Skillman, manager of Distributed Generation for Con Edison, tells Daily Energy Insider. “We are glad to make this product available free of charge because we see solar power and EVs as important staples of our clean energy future.”
Whit Fulton, CEO of ConnectDER, adds, “We see the addition of data and communications elements for grid support on top of a simplified interconnection as a leap forward.” If the results of the 2 year trial are favorable, Con Ed will expand the program to include all customers in its service area.
ConnectDER says “The Smart ConnectDER™ is UL Listed equipment that enables rapid interconnection of grid-ready distributed energy resources. The device creates a safe, standardized, low cost alternative to traditional wiring methods. It contains onboard metering, communications, and controls to unlock alternative tariff models and grid management capabilities.
“The Smart ConnectDER operates in parallel with the utility grid. It is approved for use with grid-interactive photovoltaic systems where the inverter(s) meets UL 1741 requirements. The Smart ConnectDER can be factory configured to terminate DER field wiring to either the load side or line side of the utility meter.” The device supports up to 15 kW @ 240 V according to the company. Installation is said to require less than 10 minutes.