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Smart Dimmer Fuse Workshop March 2017

Powernet’s novel Smart Dimmer Fuse (SDF) will replace traditional home circuit breakers to control electricity use based on residents’ preferences, while also improving safety. The device will include power electronics needed for the load curtailment capability, and sensing and processing for high-fidelity load measurements.

SDFs will be installed at the breaker panel for key subcircuits. For each of these subcircuits, the device measures the voltage and current, and can control the subcircuit voltage. Additionally, the new fuses will detect faults and provide greater safety than thermal-magnetic breakers in use today.

SDFs can curtail the power of controllable loads through voltage or current control, based on consumer settings. First-level reductions are generally unnoticeable, like pausing electric water heaters, air conditioning systems and refrigerators, especially at times when nobody is home or not typically bathing. When electricity prices rise to the point at which residents have indicated they can live with more noticeable load reductions, SDF actions include dimming lights or suspending the running of a clothes dryer.

The new fuses will also be critical in helping the Home Hub to identify what appliances are on each subcircuit. This learning will be critical to the success of Powernet, which relies on determining and predicting loads and their controllability. The Home Hub will use the SDF load models to plan demand-side resources for optimization within the home and for the Cloud Coordinator. A full picture of residential resource availability requires both the instantaneous controllability and accurate forecasting of consumption at a subcircuit level.