End of the fuse box

New products from Span, Square D, and others may soon replace the boxes in our home closets

“The home energy market is ripe for innovation,” writes Jonathan Shieber in Techcrunch, adding an obvious example:

Fuse boxes haven’t changed in nearly 100 years and there are few startups looking to provide better ways to integrate and manage various sources for electricity generation and storage as they become more cost competitive.

One such startup is Span, whose “smarter” electrical panel uses embedded artificial intelligence to “balance your energy needs, let you categorize and prioritize your loads, and make it easy for you to optimize your power.”  Designed especially for families whose home improvement check or wish lists include solar energy, home energy storage, and EV charging, the Span system supports AC and DC coupling, works with cellular, bluetooth wifi and ethernet connections, and claims that installation “can be done by any certified electrician, using most off-the-shelf breakers.”  The control system isn’t hidden away in a closet, but is handheld equipment that looks, feels, and works like many current remotes, familiar tv remote controls. And, unlike the old fuse boxes, Span’s system promises to warn, monitor, schedule and advise customers as to how to get the most out of their energy usage. Although a new startup, Span has a heady heritage, having been founded by Arch Rao, who drove Tesla’s Powerwall home energy storage,.

This week, an older and more familiar name entered the same arena, when Schneider Electric unveiled its own upgrade to the traditional fusebox, pictured above. It is part of the home energy management system, tagged as Wiser Energy from Square D,  described as “an integral part of any smart home. With Wiser Energy, you can give your home a voice. It helps you keep tabs on your home by notifying you when devices are on or off in the home, and monitors home energy usage in real-time, for a safer and more efficient home.” The new product joins other Square D products which have entered the residential area: home surge protection and battery backup.

Per Techcrunch:

The new product is part of a broader range of Square D home energy management devices that Schneider is aiming at homeowners. The company provides a broad suite of energy management services and technologies to commercial, industrial and residential customers, but is making a more concerted effort into the U.S. residential market beginning in 2020, according to [Manish] Pant, [Schneider Electric’s executive vice president for its Home and Distribution division.]

Below, from February, an example of how the company is reaching into homes:


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