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DC Microgrids

At Elecyr we make 380 volt DC power a reality. We’re masters of battery management and our team includes some of the guys that built the internet. We are combining all our knowledge to make a new kind of electric grid to replace the old-fashioned top-down system that’s been around for 150 years."

The grid is broken.

"The US Department of Energy agrees. The DOE wants all commercial buildings running on 380 volt DC by 2050. The 3,236 grid blackouts in the US in 2012 were an increase of 30% over 2008. When the grid fails, as it does much too often, people suffer and some people die."

DC microgrids save lives.

"Natural disasters have skyrocketed over the past decade. When power is out food spoils, people die from exposure to the elements, and critical medical procedures are left undone. In military forward operating bases, where a generator can cost $1000 per gallon to operate and where thousands of lives have been lost delivering fuel, our DC microgrid cuts fuel use in half."

DC microgrids made smart are Digital Microgrids.

A Digital Microgrid is your own electric utility, like the power lines lining the streets and feeding your home or business. It works with any power source – renewable solar, a generator, even the grid – letting you store power until you need it, all automatically. It’s hive-like in its resiliency. It repairs itself to bypass areas that are disrupted. We developed the Digital Microgrid to save energy and reduce the soft costs of solar installations. We stole ideas and advanced communication theory from the way the internet is built to create a new kind or power network that’s fault tolerant, scaleable and surprising simple.

Solar Power

Solar power is DC microgrid ready.

Solar arrays produce 380 DC -- but today, when you put panels on your building, the power you’ve harvested is converted and pays an energy tax. It’s converted to AC (10% loss). It’s sent to the power company (more loss). It’s sent back to you when the sun’s not shining (another loss). It’s thrown away if the grid is down (total loss).

Off-grid doesn’t mean a wood stove in the wilderness any more. You can be off-grid in the middle of a city. Solar power is here and in some places rooftop power provides half of the electricity used by homes. Now with a Digital Microgrid you can be off-grid and you can still sell back extra power you produce or use the grid as your back up for the cold, dark days.

Solar power is clean and renewable. When you power with your own solar you become energy independent -- maybe even Zero Net Energy independent. That helps save the planet.

Energy storage keeps you covered when the sun doesn’t shine.

Energy storage, once used just for a few minutes of battery backup, is now an important part of smoothing the flow of power for renewable power generation. A few years ago there were only lead-acid batteries. They’re ok for backup but don’t work well for daily deep discharge. In the past decade all sorts of new batteries have come to the forefront. The safest, most economical batteries for renewable energy storage are LFP batteries which are doubling in power density every decade. However, like all batteries in a large energy storage application, LFPs need continuous balancing, and that’s an Elecyr specialty.

DC microgrids save energy and the landscape.

Datacenters, users of 15% of all electricity produced, are converting to DC and saving a third of their electric bill just by leaving AC behind. Every time you convert back and forth to AC power, you lose. Inside computers it’s all DC. TVs run on DC. LED lighting runs on DC and energy efficient heating and cooling runs on DC. Just get rid of all those little black power converters converting from AC wall power and you save.

High Voltage AC power transmission

High voltage AC power transmission has other faults including radiation like a microwave. Don't get too close. Those lines are up high over your head for a reason. Very high voltage AC can’t be buried underground or under the ocean. So if the grid were all DC, all those unsightly wires could be underground and out of sight.

Lower soft costs and increase profit.

Solar soft costs are now the largest component of a solar installation. Just look at the engineering complexity of the typical system and it’s pretty easy to see why. Going all DC from the panels to the batteries to the inverters makes it all simple and efficient. These are components that scale from the smallest home to a city-supporting solar power station. The installer needs only stock one kind of panel converter, one type of battery storage module, and one style of inverter. Like the internet, it’s the distributed architecture and smart software that make it possible. You end up with simplified inventory, scaleable architecture, fault tolerant design, and safe installation.

Why not?

So if DC microgrids save energy, are more resilient from outages, work well with renewable solar power, use safer transmission lines, improve profits, and even save the view, why aren’t we changing all our power to DC "microgrids? At Elecyr we’re making a power play to make sure that the change happens. If you’re interested in helping to invent the future, join us. Click here to read the latest entry in our blog and, if you’d like us to keep in touch, share your email address with us as well.