08/11/2022

Five Components You Need for an Effective Nanogrid

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4 Min. Read

A nanogrid can help support electrification while making you more independent from the grid. Setting one up can help you avoid worrying about local utility costs, peak hours, blackouts from storms, or high summer demand. Whether you decide to build your nanogrid at once or invest in one component at a time, the following elements will help you design a system adapted to your needs.

The Basics

The electrical grid your utility operates is a network for delivering power from producers to consumers throughout the city or region. Meters and sensors monitor how much electricity is being generated and used. A grid operator strives to ensure the electric supply is adequate for user demands.

A nanogrid is a miniaturized version that supplies power to a single house or even a single load. It connects generating sources and provides distribution in the structure in an island or grid-like mode. By contrast, microgrids are larger versions that serve more than one building or much larger buildings. They are garnering more interest as people and businesses look for resilience from their area’s larger grid infrastructure.

Components Needed

What are the necessary components needed to create a nanogrid at your home or another site? In addition to some optional but popular additions, there are five basic parts to a small, independent grid:

  • Local power source – A nanogrid needs local power production, such as wind turbines or solar panels, to operate independently of the broader grid. Renewable electricity generation is a cleaner alternative to drawing power from the local utility. Traditionally, the energy produced by solar power systems went to the utility grid and would offset electricity costs. However, if an independent small grid has been set up, the solar system owner store can generate energy for free for their own use.
  • Load – The system can support electrical devices of any size that will request and use power. The load may be household items that run 24/7, such as a refrigerator, or on-demand items like an EV charge station.
  • A gateway – Power and communications on grids (and between grids) flow through gateways. The gateway interface is used to interface the components of the nano grid in a home or in a remote area.
  • A controller – The core of a nanogrid is the controller, which delivers power to the loads, negotiates through gateways, and manages the use of internal storage. One common controller these days is a “smart” electric panel. All electrical panels contain circuit breakers, but a smart panel allows you to remotely distribute electricity to the different circuits in your home. You no longer need to keep all the circuits operating around the clock or inspect breakers when one is down. Instead, the interaction is through an app. You can also remotely switch from one energy source to another (i.e., from a solar array to the primary grid or a battery backup system). In those cases, the controller manages the power flow to and from the gateway to the loads.
  • Battery storageEnergy storage is a key component for grid independence. You can use the battery to store the power produced by your solar array. By storing energy produced when the sun is shining for use when it is not, you can save money. In addition, this lets you avoid or at least optimize grid period pricing ans allows you to power your home during a utility power outage.

Two Other Popular Elements

These two other components are frequently part of nanogrids:

  • An EV charging station (or the EV itself) – Incorporating an EV charging station into a local grid is useful in order to take advantage of the best rates, stored energy, and smart panel controls to cost-effectively charge your car. If your EV is capable of bidirectional charging, using the charger to incorporate the vehicle’s battery into your grid enables you to use the EV as a home power source. This can be particularly helpful in avoiding tapping into the utility grid when your own power production is hampered because the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing.
  • A backup generator – Owning a backup generator is invaluable during outages. When severe winter weather events interrupt or shut down the electric utility grid, a portable generator that operates on natural gas or propane, along with backup batteries, can keep the power flowing for days which is a relatively affordable resiliency backup strategy. With the smart panel, you can get critical systems in your home or business running within seconds, whether you are there or not.

Smart Energy Considerations

A nanogrid is a good solution for homes and businesses with onsite power sources like solar arrays, those wanting to curb the use of fossil fuel burning power sources with electrification, people seeking off-grid living, and those living in remote areas. Additionally, with more eratic weather occurrences and natural disasters, establishing your own grid is useful where backup power or power quality is likely to be interrupted for some time.

Do not leave the success of your system to chance. Before purchasing a smart panel, battery storage system, or other elements to build your independent grid, take time to work with an experienced electrician, such as the Certified Installer network accessible through Qmerit.

Qmerit can help you modernize the electrical capabilities in your home and establish your nanogrid thanks to our network of Certified Installers. We deliver qualified, trusted installation solutions for homeowners, EV owners, commercial building owners, and others pursuing electrification. Contact Qmerit today to find out how we can help you become grid-independent.

Author: Lowry Stoops Lowry Stoops President, Qmerit Network