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Automatic Load Type and Identification for Plug Load Management Systems

Stage: Development

Plug loads consume a significant and growing portion of the energy used in commercial buildings, yet their distributed and ever-changing nature makes them a challenging building end-use to manage. While plug load management (PLM) systems that employ smart plugs to meter and control devices at the outlet level exist, they may require significant labor for installation and maintenance. For example, the manual labeling of every device in a PLM system can become outdated when devices are moved. Because of misidentification, energy-metering controls may become problematic as critical devices may be shut off inadvertently. To address these deficiencies, researchers at NREL have developed a PLM system with automatic and dynamic load detection (ADLD) technology that can identify and locate devices as they are plugged in. NREL’s technology can simplify PLM in buildings, allow for a reliable and dynamic plug load control system, and reduce building energy consumption.



Researchers at NREL have developed a plug load management (PLM) system with automatic and dynamic load detection (ADLD) for improved plug load management. The system takes advantage of intelligent, Internet of Things (IoT) connected devices to handle the main capabilities of a PLM system. The system can automatically identify and locate devices as they are plugged in via wall outlets into a building's electrical network. When a device is plugged into an outlet, the outlet communicates its location within the building to the device through Near Field Communication (NFC) technology, a Universal Serial Bus (USB) connection, or a Power over Ethernet (PoE) connection. The device then can communicate its identity, location, operating state, and power consumption to a central PLM system. The system communicates with all devices directly, rather than through smart outlets, thereby allowing the system to keep track of devices as they are moved throughout the building, to monitor their energy use, and to send control signals directly to the devices. Whereas state-of-the-art PLM systems control devices by turning off the power at the outlet or circuit level regardless of the types of connected devices, NREL’s PLM  system allows the devices themselves to safely power down when they are instructed to do so.


To learn more about Automatic Load Type and Identification for Plug Load Management Systems, please contact Erin Beaumont at:


Erin.Beaumont@nrel.gov
ROI 20-29.

Applications and Industries

  • Commercial and industrial building plug-load electrical systems.
  • Commercial and industrial building plug-load USB and PoE systems.
  • Building management and/or operations.
  • Energy service companies.

Benefits

NREL’s plug load management (PLM) system

  • Keeps track of the locations, types, identities, operating states, and power consumption of devices automatically;
  • Avoids misidentification and mismanagement of devices for problem-free energy-metering controls;
  • Enables a reliable and dynamic plug load control system;
  • Reduces plug load building energy consumption;
  • Interfaces standard, USB, and Power over Ethernet (PoE) outlets to plugged-in devices; and
  • Uses wired or wireless connections to communicate between the outlets, devices, and PLM system.

Beyond plug load energy metering and control, advanced PLM technologies may open the door to the development of many new capabilities, such as those related to demand response, building and grid resiliency, and Internet of Things (IoT) applications for connected appliances.