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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 Arizona Public Service residential users, this time period is one hour.  Salt River Project has a demand window of 30 minutes.  You are charged for the highest average demand reached during the on peak time period.  Demand is measured in time and in amount.  The typical measurement used 1000 watts or 1KW averaged  per a given time period. 
The current charge for APS is $13.50 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. 
The SRP demand rate schedule once you hit 10kW is $35/kW for the highest 30 minute period.  10kW x $35 is $350 just in demand charges. This does not include how much power you used.  One can see the benefits of not reaching the 10kW demand peak and with this system not only do you never have to worry about, you can tweek it at work on your laptop during lunch.  Make sure the kids don't have the Jacuuzi on during on peak hours! 

Examples of KW loads in a residence:
  • Electric Clothes Dryer:        6KW
  • Electric Water Heater:      4.5KW
  • 3 Ton Heat Pump:            5.6KW (1.6 KW/ton)
  • 5 Ton Heat Pump:               8KW  (15 year old heat pump: 11KW)
  • Range:                              2.5KW per burner
  • Oven:                                   5KW
  • Pool pump (per pump)         2KW
  • Electric Spa Heater:           10-20KW
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.
How much does a load controller cost? 
How many options do you want?  How many loads are being controlled?  How many WIFI integrated thermostats would like installed?  How many appliance sensors would you like to monitor?
We find once you are made aware the options you choose how the system is ordered and the price reflects a custom designed system.  Our trained field techs can help you make these decisions. 
A load controller doesn't "cost", it pays.  You will be provided with an accurate quote at the time of the site survey.  Click here to email us your information        
How long does it take to install? 
The average installation time is two hours.  Less on smaller homes, a bit longer on larger homes

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? 
The data logged by the system is cloud based meaning it's always there to look at.  There are menus to choose from once the dashboard is accessed to view set points, usage and "see" your power being used in real time.
Like most new technology there is a learning curve which does take time.  The excitement to learn more comes when you see the effect it has on your power bill every month.   






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 also 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.   



A sample graph showing demand, run times of loads as well as solar energy being generated. 




Sensors feed data into the relay panel (on the right) and the loads to be controlled are fed into high quality
reliable 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.  



 Moving the cursor over the interactive graph shows details in a pop up window, 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 significant savings and 24/7 protection again a runaway demand charge.  Remember, it's the highest usage recorded in a 30 (SRP) or 60 (APS) minuted time window.  R est assured knowing the system will not allow demand levels to go over where you set it at.   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



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. 

 What's The Next Step?
Email your contact information and our team will help you set a time to for a site survey.  This is required to determine the fucntionality of the system.  Click here for more information
                                                                                                                                                                                        



 

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