This California home is shedding energy by automatically cutting power to its array of high-end electronics.
GOLD WINNER: Best Green Home
June 19, 2009 by Steven Castle
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A Lutron HomeWorks lighting control system also helps the Levinsons save energy by dimming lights and programming preset scenes so that only the lights needed for particular tasks come on. But Frank is going beyond that, replacing many of the traditional incandescent bulbs with dimmable compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and even higher-efficiency LEDs (light-emitting diodes). He says a lot of the home’s 50-watt halogen lights are being replaced by 5-watt LEDs. These LEDs can’t dim all the way down to 1 percent, but that’s a compromise the Levinsons will gladly live with, as they’re saving a lot of energy.
The Levinsons can see much of what they are using in electricity via the Agilewaves energy-monitoring system. It’s connected through an Ethernet network and viewed through a web interface by Frank. SoundVision is planning to display data on the Crestron touchpanels, though for now Quisisem says the web interface is more robust.
Sensors monitor the electrical, solar, solar thermal, and water systems and send that information to a data acquisition box, and a PC server maintains the database.
Frank can see when his nephews are in the downstairs apartment playing on the computer all night. And the monitoring capability has enabled him to identify problems with the system. For example, after the photovoltaic solar system was installed, he noticed irregularities with the data associated with it and realized that one of the inverters used to convert the DC power from the solar system to AC for the home’s electrical use wasn’t working properly. There would be no way to know that from simply reading a monthly utility bill.
For now, Frank can see that he’s producing more energy from the solar system than he is using, though he plans to add a hot tub and a lap pool. That will use up more juice—and he’s sure to know exactly how much.
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Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates
Systems Design and Installation
SoundVision, Novato, CA
Don Larwood, Berkeley, CA
Solar Systems Installation
SunPower 12-kW photovoltaic system with dual inverters
Heliodyne solar thermal system and Takagi tankless water heater
Pioneer Elite KURO PRO-150FD 60-inch plasma
Mitsubishi PD-5065 50-inch plasma
Chief PDR-2042B articulating wall mount
Chief PDR-UB universal articulating wall mount
Sanus extension mount SA-VMB1B
Sanus low-profile plasma mount SA-VMPL2B
Audio Control Model 860 12-channel 60-watt amplifier/equalizer
Audio Control Model 1160 16-channel amplifier/equalizer
Axis 243SA video server
Denon AVR 3808 receiver
Denon AVR 4308ci receiver
Panasonic, Blu-ray DVD player with SD card slot
Panasonic Blu-ray player set up for multiregion DVDs (2)
ReQuest F2.400 250-GB music server
Velodyne 3000-Watt Dynamic sub amp (2)
Leon Speakers Hz616 center-channel speaker,
Leon Speakers PR606-60 Profile series on-wall speakers (2)
Leon Speakers HZ414-LCR left, right, center speaker for 50-inch plasma
SpeakerCraft Aim Wide 5 in-ceiling speakers (24)
Velodyne in-wall subs (2)
Active Thermal Management cooling system
Extron video switchers
Panamax MAX 7500-PRO power conditioner & voltage regulator
Panamax power conditioner with 20-amp circuit
Panamax Powermax 8 Series surge protector
CONTROL, NETWORKING & LIGHTING SYSTEMS
Crestron home control system
Lutron HomeWorks system
Netgear Ethernet switches
Channel Vision P-0921 2-door telephone entry system
Holovision intercom entry system
Middle Atlantic racks
Pro-Series HDMI cable
Terk XM antenna
Tributaries Series 5 audio cables
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