Smart Homes Need Smart Batteries

17 May 2017

Image credit: PixabayImage credit: PixabayAs our homes get smarter, the systems powering our homes also need to become smarter. To work toward that goal, researchers from the Institute of Automation, the Chinese Academy of Sciences and the School of Automation and Electrical Engineering at the University of Science and Technology Beijing are proposing a solution to optimize power consumption in batteries.

“In smart home energy management systems, the intelligent optimal control of [the] battery is a key technology for saving power consumption," Prof. Qinglai Wei of the Chinese Academy of Sciences wrote in the paper.

Using a method that divides the main issue (how to best use batteries in smart home systems) into smaller issues, Wei and his team considered the physical charging and discharging constraints of the battery. An algorithm learns which inputs (for instance, the demand for power from a device) lead to which outputs (providing power). By questioning the link between input and output, the algorithm learns more about the optimal times to charge and to discharge to limit power grid consumption. To extend battery life, every iteration of learning is limited by the understanding that the battery can only charge and discharge to certain limits. Anything beyond those limits and the battery could experience extreme wear.

"The battery [makes] decisions to meet the demand of the home load according to the real-time electricity rate," Wei wrote, noting that the objective of optimal control is to find the ideal balance for each battery state (charging, discharging and idle) within the battery's constraints, while still minimizing the power needed from the grid.

Next, the team will examine how to avoid the damage caused by switching between charging and discharging modes.

The research is published in the IEEE/CAA Journal of Automatica Sinica (JAS), a joint publication of IEEE and the Chinese Association of Automation.

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