A smart energy system with storage at its heart

The ecocoah fully integrated smart energy system is designed to help residential customers improve usage of solar energy. Pic: MariaGodfrida/Pixabay.

The ecocoah fully integrated smart energy system is designed to help residential customers improve usage of solar energy. Pic: MariaGodfrida/Pixabay.

BY JASON DEIGN:

A Swiss firm called ecocoach is looking to penetrate the challenging residential market with an integrated energy storage and smart energy system aimed at optimising usage of solar energy.

The system comes with lithium-ion batteries, inverter and controller all in a single cabinet.

It is designed to provide plug-and-play solar PV and smart meter integration, energy management, smart home functions and electric vehicle charging, with maximised solar self-consumption.

Control and configuration is through a mobile app which simplifies management and shows power flows between the different components of the home energy network.

Pirmin Reichmuth, ecocoach’s CEO, told Energy Storage Reportthat the fully integrated system could shave 30% off the cost of installing an energy storage system using individual off-the-shelf components. 

The ecocoach lithium-ion battery system

Ecocoach, a sustainable energy and technology company, designed its system after scouring the market for storage systems to integrate into a 100-apartment building development, he said.

This has resulted in a scalable system that can be used in locations ranging from private homes to housing estates, depending on the configuration. “It was a very practical beginning,” Reichmuth said.

“We looked at what we needed and didn’t find what we were looking for: an integrated energy management and storage system where you do not have to assemble the components yourself and manually adjust them to each other.”

Ecocoach’s ecoBatterySystem uses 6.5kWh lithium nickel manganese cobalt oxide batteries from LG Chem, paired to provide from 13kWh up to 65kWh of storage capacity.

Pricing for the system depends on the capacity involved, with a 26kWh ecoBatterySystem costing around €24,600, Reichmuth said. This is more than competing battery products. 

Systems with an inverter

However, battery systems such as the Powerwall do not come with an inverter, power management system, smart metering or grid and plant protection, which the customer has to pay for separately.

Buying these individual components not only bumps up the cost of an installation but also increases the chances that the system might not work as expected.

As a result, said Reichmuth, “we have had a lot of interest from end users and installers” because of the ecoBatterySystem’s simplicity. “It’s easy to use,” he said. “All plugs are pre-wired and no programming is needed.”

Reichmuth said ecocoach had taken care to build its integrated system from industry-standard components so that faults do not occur in the first place.

The ecoBatterySystem went on sale this year in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, aimed at homeowners and building operators. 

Extending sales to other parts of Europe

Reichmuth said ecocoach was hoping to extend sales to other parts of Europe within the next two years.

And while Germany, in particular, is a hotly contested market for energy storage, in Switzerland sales are picking up thanks to a law this year that made it possible for citizens to consume and trade self-generated electricity.

Ecocoach has a further advantage in Switzerland, in being a home-grown brand. “I think it matters,” said Reichmuth. “The system has to be good, but Swiss innovation and Swiss quality is liked in Switzerland.

“We’ve had a great response.”

Although peer-to-peer energy trading is still in its infancy in Switzerland and elsewhere, ecocoach hopes that the ecoBatterySystem could make it easy for customers to gain revenue from self-produced solar power.

Included in the system is energy management software that includes smart metering and helps to control not just electricity use but also heating and water consumption. 

Using prosumer applications

“For us, it’s the next step,” Reichmuth said. “There are already people who use these prosumer applications. It’s getting easier for customers to do this.”

Ecocoach’s products represent the latest in a growing trend towards residential battery system integration.

In the US, for example, a company called Concept by US launched what it claimed was the world’s first plug-and-play residential storage system in 2016.

The launch followed the unveiling of integrated offerings from JuiceBox (now Adara Power) and Sonnen, although in these cases the battery systems did not include an inverter, smart metering, energy management and other features.

  • Stay on top of the fast-moving world of residential energy storage at Energy Storage Europe, from March 12 to 14, 2018, in Düsseldorf, Germany. Register for your ticket now.

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