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Residential Load Controllers
Frequently Asked Questions

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Let there be no confusion:
Automated Power Systems is in no way related to, sponsored, endorsed by or affiliated with Arizona Public Service Company aka: APS, an Arizona based electric utility company.
Easy way to remember: They sell power, we help you conserve it.

 
Frequently Asked Questions:
What is a load controller?
A load controller is an outdoor mounted computer that measures your power usage and controls peak demand by load shedding.  Loads (A/C, Dryer, Water Heater), are not allowed to run at the same time which causes high demand charges.
 Load controllers work in conjunction with electrical rates that have a demand charge.  Since the demand charge on most energy bills can be as much as the consumption, controlling demand significantly reduces your electric bill.  Think of it as a cruise control for your power bill.  You set it where you want it.  The lower you set it, the more you save.

What is Demand?
Demand is the highest usage of electrical power during a given period
.  For APS residential users, this time period is one hour.  You are charged for the highest demand reached during any sixty minute period.  Demand is measured in time and in amount.  The typical measurement used 1000 watts or 1KW averaged per a given time period.  Either 30 minutes (Salt River Project) or 60 minutes (Arizona Public Service Company).  
The current charge is $13.85 per KW.   Simple math dictates a demand of 10KW would equate to $138.50 for one hour usage of power!   Cutting this in half (easy to accomplish with a load controller), would reduce your bill by almost $60 per month.
Demand rates are expected to rise to $16/kW making this investment pay off even faster.

Examples of KW loads in a residence:
Since the meter measures an average of power usage, adding the KW values above would not be how the meter reads your usage.  Example: Let's say a 5 ton heat pump consuming 8KW runs 10 minutes on, 10 minutes off.  The average demand that the meter (and the load controller), "sees and reads" is a  4KW load.   A water heater uses 4.5KW but can run for a full 60 minutes (the APS demand time window), after a load of clothes and therefore would contribute 4.5KW to the months bill.  The Inergy Smart Panel System has built-in timers and one can be set to keep the water heater from running during on peak hours.  

What Does a Load Controller Connect To?

On most all electric homes, the load controller is connected to the heat pump(s), the clothes dryer heating element (so the tumbler keeps spinning), and the electric hot water heater.  Years of experience has shown that pools should run at night during off peak periods and ranges/ovens do not need to be connected.  Since the microprocessor in the load controller is aware of all loads being used, (not just the ones connected to it), when the demand needs to be controlled the load controller will shed loads to allow the use of the range or oven.   If set correctly and programmed you won't even know the load controller is working until you open your energy bill each month and see the reductions. 

I Have Natural Gas, Can a Load Controller Help?
Absolutely.  Your savings won't be as high as an all electric home but you will be able to lower your demand more because of less appliances using 220v to operate.  Lower demands means lower bills.  The recently introduced APS rate is one of the lowest in the country and compatible with our load controllers. We know, we have been doing this since 1981 and have helped hundreds of APS customers lower their monthly bills.

Do Load Controllers Need To Be Maintained?
No, once installed it is very rare to have a problem with them and they do not require maintenance or check ups.  

How do I know what's going on?  How do I control it?
All of the data collected is sent to a cloud based system so you can log into your account online and view your power usage, create graphs of use with a simple click and make changes such as raising or lowering demand levels (it changes seasonally), timers for the water heaters, and what you are currently using and an archive of what you have been using. 






Current transformers  are placed around the main buss bars in your electrical panel and measure power consumption.   This information is read and recorded by the controller. 
Every light bulb, appliance and outlet is recorded and archived in a cloud based system.  





   

Current sensors are placed on loads and can then be tracked, archived and graphed.  
Being able see the load use on a graph which is stored on a cloud based system one
then has the ability to do predictive maintenance on HVAC equipment.  Should one of
the units take longer than typical to reach a target temperature, you will be alerted that
attention is needed.   



You will be able to track usage both in real time and historically, run times of loads, set levels and change the
priority on your laptop or PC.  (soon to have a mobile app).




Sensors feed data into the Smart Panel (on the right) and the loads to be controlled are fed into high quality
30amp latching relays. 



The control box is mounted outside on the right side of the main service panel and acquires data, sends
it to a cloud based storage system so it can be viewed from any location with net access.  Phone app's
are being developed so you can turn loads on or off, change temperature remotely, read the history of the
temperature/energy usage/peak demand and do it remotely.




One of many graphs that can be veiwed in real time. Moving the cursor over the interactive graph shows
details in this case the highest demand during that billing cycle was 17.465kW.  Clicking on the graph
expands it for more precise information. 


Can a Load Controller Help Me?
 
D. Marrzella in Scottsdale has a four bedroom ranch with a pool and has saved $16,000 in twelve years on her APS bill.  Although this figure is on the high end of most of our customers, you can expect at least a 30% drop in your monthly bill with little or no change in lifestyle, many save as much as 40%.  Remember, you have control of the load controller, you set where you want it to be. 

What does a Load Controller look like?
Below is the Pensar System 1000 (outdoor display) This unit is mounted next to your existing electrical breaker box




This is the relay box which is mounted outside and houses the control module.  There are modes on the display which shows your demand set point (where you set the maximum demand level), current demand (what the home is currently using), past hourly average (this is what the APS meter measures from), highest demand peak (what the highest peak reached was during last billing cycle), time, date and alarm settings. 
Typically you would interface with this display to set the demand where it best fits your lifestyle.   It may take a full year to know just how low you can set it as the seasons and demand levels change and we encourage our customers to check it more often than not during the first year.  Demand adjustments should reflect the load on the home, for example:  one setting to accommodate the summer load, a lower setting for Fall and Spring, and one setting to insure your home is warm during the winter.  Key point to remember: the lower you set the demand level, the lower your demand charge.

Ok, I'm Interested, What's The Next Step?
Your first call is going to be to your local power provider, either Arizona Public Service Company: 602 371 7171 or Salt River Project at 602-236-8888 and ask for customer service.  Assuming you have been in your home for a year, request your consumption history for last year including demand levels.   Having the demand levels on this history is very important for our energy experts to determine accurately how much we can save you.  This is free to all customers.   Again: Last years consumption history with demand levels. 
Once you receive this document call us and schedule an energy audit and we will come out to your home and show you how to save.  This document is not required for an assessment, it helps define patterns and calculate the ROI.

Our team has licensed HVAC contractors and can make certain your a/c or heat pump is working at peak efficiency.  For a demand controller to be 100% effective, the a/c or heat pump must be operating at manufacturer's recommended specifications. 



 

Call 602 789 1699 to schedule an on site analysis
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