Smart Home Research Set to Begin
KTH researchers are about to begin work on designs for innovative new “smart homes” in Norra Djurgårdsstaden, the gigantic showcase development that will re-shape the northeastern edge of the Swedish capital in coming decades. Smart electric grids, already a KTH strength, are an important element in the project.
Set to begin in coming days, KTH’s new smart homes project will run for two years, and will include a number of Sweden’s largest players in construction, energy, home appliances and research in the field.
The research and the construction itself will cover a range of technologies, including precise control of ventilation and electric charging stations for automobiles. The team will begin by building a model apartment to provide a detailed demonstration of the smart building of the future.
For example, the flat will automatically steer electrical appliance operation to times when electricity is cheapest and has the lowest environmental impact. At the same time, it will ensure that cars are fully charged when needed and that the washing machine has finished running when clean clothes are needed. The keyword is timing.
“Our task as researchers is to work out the best solutions,” says Henrik Sandberg, a researcher at ACCESS and associate professor in the Department of Automatic Control at the KTH School of Electrical Engineering. “Sometimes electricity is cheap during times when it’s not the best environmental choice. A washing machine goes through several cycles during a load, and these cycles draw different amounts of current. There are a lot of parameters to track.”
Sandberg points out that, even with all the intelligent technology, the house’s residents always have the last word. They will be able to decide if they want to run an appliance regardless of the price or environmental impact of electricity at that moment. A smart home can’t be allowed to become a prison.
In addition to the work on shifting electricity consumption to the best times and building a physical house for display and testing, the project includes several other facets of smart house research (the team also chooses to refer to “active houses”).
One of these is making more efficient use of electricity, for instance by automatically reducing heating or air conditioning when nobody is home.
“We’re putting a strong focus on user friendliness. If residents don’t use the smart features, the whole idea of a smart home falls apart,” Sandberg says.
Substantial research will go into visualising electricity consumption so that innovative approaches to energy conservation can be put in place. This may involve gadgets like iPads that can show savings. Another focus area looks to ensure that price signals from electricity markets are brought into the concept, along with marketing programs and matching electricity contracts to usage.
Finally, the smart house will be evaluated to determine how well the theoretical studies match up to actual performance. The project is designed to meet stiff environmental standards set to come into effect in 2020.
“It’s an important step in the development of smart grids,” says Sandberg.
The research project includes KTH, Interactive Institute, Fortum, ABB, Electrolux, JM, NCC, HSB and ByggVesta, and the total sum spent on the project is SEK 21.8 million ($3.2 million).
For more information:
Henrik Sandberg, +46-8-790-7294; email@example.com
Nils Brandt (evaluation of the smart home): +46-8-790-8059; firstname.lastname@example.org
Lennart Soder (electricity contracts, marketing concepts): +46-8-790-8906; email@example.com.
By Peter Larsson