Kiwigrid's HEMS in employee testing: Christian & Dana's solar carport
With The Independent Home, Kiwigrid provides a product that enables homeowners to easily and intuitively manage their energy needs. Benefiting end customers include Kiwigrid employees Christian Geie (Head of Platform Operations) and Dana Kästner-Geie (Teamlead Human Resources).
The two use their employer's home energy management system (HEMS) to monitor energy flows from their solar carport. The significant advantage for Kiwigrid is that the employees gain a personal connection to the products and can provide feedback directly to the company and its developers.
How the idea of the solar carport was born
Dana and Christian decided to install a PV system on their property as they wanted to cover the energy consumption of their family of six from self-generated energy as much as possible in the future. Christian had already planned the construction of a carport and, while designing it, came up with the idea of installing solar panels directly as roofing instead of rooftop materials. This way, lots of light would reach the inside, making planting the carport possible. Christian and Dana knew that the project would require a certain amount of money and would only pay off financially in a few years. Nevertheless, the green idea of being able to supply themselves with self-generated energy in the future motivated them to put their plans into action.
A special kind of construction project
To install the solar panels as a roof for the carport, Christian contacted Kiwigrid's long-time customer Solarwatt. For this special project, panels had to be installed on wood, a unique case for Solarwatt, which usually installs its PV systems on rooftops. The wooden construction posed some challenges for the installers, as all the wooden pillars had to be the exact same height to install the PV system successfully. Moreover, the carport’s construction occurred during COVID-19, which led to delivery problems and delays. In the end, however, the effort was worth it, with a total of 28 glass modules placed as a roof. A Kiwigrid Energy Manager Rail was installed in the control cabinet as a finishing touch.
"I’ve already implemented a few construction projects in our house, but our solar carport was probably the most complicated. I’m very grateful to Solarwatt for taking on this special case and executing it with us. Looking back, it was really rewarding and made me very proud." - Christian Geie.
What the solar carport enables today
Today, the finished solar carport offers Christian and Dana exactly what they had hoped for. During sunny months, the family can live entirely off-grid, despite the high electricity consumption of a household with four children. The degree of self-sufficiency is high throughout the year, and excess electricity generated can even be fed back to the grid. However, this is not something Dana and Christian are currently using due to the high level of self-consumption. The installed air-heat pump, for example, is constantly drawing electricity, so there is hardly any surplus.
Kiwigrid's HEMS helps to track energy flows and self-sufficiency values at any time and adjust consumption accordingly. The clear, visually presented graphs and charts in Kiwigrid's HEMS reinforce the family's good feeling about living sustainably and being largely unaffected by rising electricity prices.
"Being able to observe and understand our own energy management so closely is very motivating. It's also inspiring and educational for our kids to see when we've been self-sufficient and explain what that means and why environmental awareness is so important." - Dana Kästner-Geie.
How Kiwigrid benefits from the solar carport
As an employer, Kiwigrid also benefits from the Geie family's extensive construction project. The installation and regular private use of The Independent Home revealed potential improvements to Christian and Dana, which they reported back to Kiwigrid and even discussed directly with the company’s developers. The feedback was further addressed in internal groups and used to improve the usability of HEMS.
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